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Current List of Agricultural-Related Bills in the NJ Legislature 

With all eyes on Atlantic City , we can’t lose site of New Jersey’s $82 billion food and agricultural sectors.

Below are links to agricultural-bills currently before the NJ Legislature this session:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByKeyword.asp

Farmers Markets

When do farmers’ markets start in N.J.? 135 options for summer 2016

Farmers Market Returning To Brick

Burlington County seniors eligible for farmers’ market vouchers

Hunterdon Land Trust celebrates Farmers’ Market’s 10th anniversary

Other Happenings 

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program on Healthy Eating

Staying true to its land grant mission, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County participated in the Cape May County Healthcare Resource Day on April 23rd. Marilou Rochford, the extension’s Family and Community Health Sciences Educator spoke about Eating Better on a Budget. Rutgers cooperative extension is located in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties and provides a number of services designed to improve family and community health, and to support New Jersey’s food and agricultural systems and infrastructure.

H/T Cape May Herald.com

 

 

Farms and Farming for those Most in Need

Two articles this week pointing to the importance of New Jersey farming in providing access to fresh food for urban communities and for those in need in more suburban and rural areas.

New trustees named at Valley Crest Farm and Preserve

Robert J. Shanahan, Jr. an attorney from Flemington, and Mike Beneduce Jr., a fourth generation farmer and winemaker from Pittstown, have been named to the Board fof Trustees at the Valley Crest Preserve. The Valley Crest Preserve is a nonprofit that grows and provides fresh produce for people in need. Valley Crest Preserve is located in Lebanon NJ.

Urban Farming in NJ: A Vital Link in the New Jersey Foodshed

Michele Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation penned columns in the Hunterdon County Democrat  and The Daily Record about the importance of urban agriculture in New Jersey.

Urban agriculture and the repurposing of old industrial sites for agriculture and food processing has also been a key concern of NJ Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher as well.

Byers provides links to a number of key urban agricultural initiatives in Trenton, Newark, Camden, and Patterson:

Trenton 

Capital City Farm an initiative of the D&R Greenway Land Trust  is supported by Isles which is developing 30 community gardens around the City of Trenton. Capital City Farm will be located on two acres of land behind the Trenton Soup Kitchen.

Newark 

Greater Newark Conservancy supports two urban farms in Newark, including an orchard with 75 fruit trees.

AeroFarms is converting an old steel factory in Newark’s Ironbound section into a vertical farm that will provide fresh greens year-round.

Camden 

Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation operates the Emerald Street Garden which includes a greenhouse, chicken coop and bread oven. Community gardens operate in many abandoned lots throughout Camden. Camden’s agricultural landscape includes orchards as well as community gardens and urban farms.

Paterson

City Green operates in Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic. Projects include a one acre farm in Paterson and a five acre farm in Clifton. City Green is a good example of how to operate at a bioregional scale in a state dominated by home rule and fragmented jurisdictions.

It’s Farmers Market Time!

Farmers markets are starting to open across the state, usually in a south to north pattern. Here’s a quick rundown of those markets that made the press this week.

Cowtown Farmers Market in Pilesgrove NJ. It’s old school in that piles of fresh produce and fresh farm products from nearby farms are intermingled among rows and rows of flea market wares, bargain basement stuff, and antiques. Great way to spend a 1/2 day or so with the kids.

Brigantine Farmers Market in Brigantine NJ.

Shore Area Markets The Asbury Park Press provides a handy dandy guide to farmers markets in Monmouth and Ocean Counties this week. One of my favorite memories as a kid is driving to the beach with my grandparents and watching the fields and farms unfold. Pulling in at some roadside farmers stand and getting fresh sweet corn and tomatoes on the way home was always a treat.

While the roadside stands and roadside markets are fast disappearing along with many of our small roadside farms, NJ’s still abundant produce, fruit, and value-added products can be found at many of these farmers markets covered by  the APP.

 

 

 

Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher works to ensure a Garden State for the future

NJ agriculture leader to retire, but stay connected to industry

Rebecca Byrne attends 4-H summit in Maryland

Pier Semanchik of Hackettstown High School Named the 2016 4-H New Jersey Equestrian of the Year

 

N.J. agriculture giant killed in tractor accident

Food Incubator in northern NJ could help keep farmers down on farm

Density, diversity are good news for N.J. farmers

Food markets sprouting in North Jersey

How to shop–and not to shop–at a farmers market

 

 

Have been absent for quite a while as I wrestled with a PhD program, my parents failing health, and field research on the aftermath of Sandy across the greater Metropolitan NYC area.

Lately, however, I have been thinking more and more about the NJ Food and Agriculture sector as I’ve been driving through what remains of the hinterlands of Monmouth County.

NJ Spotlight had a great article last week about the possible development of a food incubator in Northwest NJ as a way of managing remaining farmland in Sussex and Warren counties  and helping new and young farmers to get started and keep farming.

FOOD INCUBATOR IN NORTHERN NJ COULD HELP KEEP FARMERS DOWN ON FARM

The Foodshed Alliance  was incorporated in 2010 as a formal organization dedicated to preserving the rural food systems of Northwest New Jersey and increasing rural resiliency in these same areas. They’ve been operating since 2001.

I was happy to see this article by NJ Spotlight as I’ve been thinking a lot lately about NJ Food and Agricultural systems prompted by some recent visits to Minneapolis that started me wondering again about the feasibility of a NJ-Wide Food System study, similar to the Greater Philadelphia Food System Study commissioned by The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in 2010.

A key part of my academic research covers community resource networks and “The Plural Sector”, the large expanse of ventures and organizations that are neither fully private nor fully public. So I was very excited to see some thought being given to alternative ways of organizing for success in NJ’s dwindling farmlands.

I hope to get a chance to visit and talk with the folks at the Foodshed Alliance this summer as a part of a relaunch of this blog.

 

 

Earlier this week, I received this emailed press release about the NJ blueberry crop from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture: “POPULAR JERSEY FRESH BLUEBERRIES NOW AVAILABLE”.

“Jersey Fresh blueberries, the official state fruit, are now in season and available at local supermarkets, farmers markets, roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms, Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher announced today.”

This should be an interesting year for berries because strawberries are late this year and many farmers are still struggling with the strawberry crop this year because of the rain and wetness.

“Getting the strawberries out of the field this year is like mud wrestling” said a Farmers Market/Farmstand employee I talked to this week.

“They are going fast [the strawberries]” she added and they sell out early every day at every market.

I can attest to that having missed out on fresh strawberries every Sunday for the past three weeks at the Red Bank Farmers market.

If you’ve got a hankering for fresh blueberries and are trying to find some fresh ones visit the

Jersey Fresh Site

or

Visit NJ Farms

Matthew Smith, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan is one of fifty majors in Rutgers recently redesigned Agriculture and Food Systems major. Smith sees healthy, organic foods as integral to a recovery and healing process and is envisioning a career that may see him starting a CSA and working on urban agricultural issues.

See the full story in Rutgers Focus: An Army Vet Finds Rutgers’ Agricultural Programs and a Future in Growing Things”

Just another way Rutgers helps contribute to a safe and healthy New Jersey.

And why Rutgers is considered one of the top schools in the country for returning Vets.

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