I love it when several entities come together for a good cause, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) — itself a good cause — is facilitating just that. On Saturday, March 20, they are holding a multi-faced event that includes a free community seed exchange (more on the significance of that in a moment), a benefit concert headlined by a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Nashville, and a feast of locally produced food and wine — all at Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington.

The evening kicks off with the free seed exchange. If, like me, you didn’t save seeds from last year’s garden — or if you didn’t even have a garden last year (or ever) but are thinking about it for this season — the organizers will be handing out packets of heirloom seeds for swapping purposes. The exchange, says NOFA-NJ outreach director Stephanie Smith, “is a first for New Jersey. Even on the entire East Coast it’s not nearly as common as it is in, for instance, the Pacific Northwest. The purpose is to have fun and to begin amassing a pool of seeds specifically adapted to local conditions.”

For those who are interested in planting a cool-weather vegetable garden, organic seedlings from two local farmers will be for sale during the seed exchange. Among the transplanted crops that Mike Rassweiler of North Slope Farm in Lambertville and Al Esposito of Poplar Wood Farm in Port Murray, Warren County are expected to offer are lettuce, arugula, tatsoi, broccoli, and kale.

The seed exchange is prelude to the evening’s main event: a benefit concert featuring Nashville-based singer-songwriter Adrienne Young. In 2003 Young’s debut album “Plow to the End of the Row” was nominated for a Grammy (very unusual for an indie performer), and the Los Angeles Times called Young “the Americana music find of the year.” How fitting is it that Young’s CD includes a packet of wildflower seeds and features artwork based on the Farmers’ Almanac? Opening for Young’s bluegrass/folk rock band will be Hopewell’s own Mountain View Band. Tickets to the concert are $20 per person and include a complimentary glass of Hopewell Valley Vineyards wine, a bowl of chili — either vegetarian or beef chili made from grass-fed beef raised at Hopewell’s Beechtree Farm — and bread from Lawrenceville’s Village Bakery. In addition, wine will be available for purchase throughout the evening.

Here’s how the evening will proceed. The seed exchange and seedling/transplant sale begins upstairs at the winery at 6:30 p.m., and is free and open to all. Those who purchase $20 concert tickets will move downstairs for wine and chili in the winery’s tasting and event room (which I featured in the January 20, 2010 issue of U.S. 1). At 8 p.m. Mountain View Band will take the stage, followed by Adrienne Young at 8:30 p.m. The event will benefit NOFA-NJ and its mission to support organic and sustainable agriculture in New Jersey.

NOFA-NJ’s concert and (free) seed exchange will take place on Saturday, March 20, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Hopewell Valley Vineyards, 46 Yard Road, Pennington. To order concert tickets, $20, visit www.nofanj.org, phone (908) 371-1111, or email cdeetz@nofanj.org.

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