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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Business Incubator Planned at LeGates Farm

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By Carl Price

NORTH CAPE MAY – Barbara Wilde, Willow Creek Winery’s owner, bought LeGate’s Farm, on Bayshore Road, in North Cape May, several years ago, with a vision for the property.
“I was looking for a way to give back to the community,” Wilde explained.
Currently, the farm market provides meals for a low cost or free to needy families in the surrounding communities, but if Wilde and the New Jersey Farmer’s Cooperative (NJFC) have their way, a project in the works will have area artisans learning how to support themselves through their art.
The project would include the construction of a business incubator – a 12,000-square-foot building to house 32 15-by-15-foot stalls to be used as studio/vendor space. 
The building would include a large meeting space for educational business workshops and seminars to be used by micro-businesses that could not normally afford a brick-and-mortar location, as either vendor or studio space. 
NJFC members will have access at below-market rates. The NJFC is seeking federal funding for the construction.
The structure is to be built on the site of two pre-existing, dilapidated agricultural outbuildings. No new land will be disturbed. There will also be allotments for growing crops and a teaching garden.
Wilde said she hopes partnerships will open for the new businesses to obtain things, like business coaching and marketing skills. Stockton University is a prospective partner. 
As the micro-businesses become successful and move on to larger spaces, Wilde said, new micro-businesses can move in, creating sustained job creation, and economic growth for the region. 
“We are planning outreach to underserved communities, women and people of color because they have been most severely impacted by the pandemic,” Wilde said. 
An outdoor vendor village, which will be open Saturdays this spring through early fall, will get locals and visitors used to patronizing the farm.

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