Archive for January, 2011


Honey exhibitor setting up display early Saturday morning.  Hang tight.  I’ll be posting about the winter conference over the next few days.

You can check out my coverage on Twitter at #NOFA

Dr. Mike Hammer, CS Mott professor of sustainable agriculture gave an outstanding keynote & led a great discussion about the Michigan Good Food Charter.


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Lot’s happening in New Jersey Agriculture recently:

A European Gluten-Free food manufacturer is breaking ground on a food processing facility in Logan in Gloucester County on Tuesday. HT to Blue Jersey and the CourierPostOnline.

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center, which provides business incubation and economic development services incubated this project at its Bridgeton facility.

The Jersey City council is promoting urban agriculture and trying to make it easier for residents to keep chickens and bees.

Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson of Camden is introducing legislation to make it easier for urban residents to access and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

NJ Schools are ahead of the curve on school lunch guidelines.

The Horse Park of New Jersey will be holding a 3 day event with a Jersey Fresh Farmers market” and equine events from May 11-15. Should be a very nice combination of NJ agricultural activities.

Unfortunately, I’ll be in Wisconsin that week.

The Northeast Organic Farming Assocation
is holding it’s 21st Annual Winter Conference at Princeton University this Saturday and Sunday, January 29-30.

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Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farms and Foreign Markets Jim Miller
resigned last week after two years at the helm.

I’m finding this interesting since my friend and former colleague, Bud Philbrook served as Deputy Under Secretary for Foreign Agricultural Services under Miller during the first year of the Obama administration.

Turnover is common among cabinet members and White House Staff, but it will be interesting to see how USDA evolves.

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Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog points us to the New York Times release of the 2011 Statistical Abstract of the U.S.

Interesting facts including that fact that red meat consumption is up, veggie consumption is down, and wine consumption is also up.

Minnesota where I lived for most of the 00’s has more hogs than people. Best pork I ever had was an open face pork sandwich with homemade gravy at a VFW just outside Austin Minnesota.

Nationwide, organic acreage has grown 170% since 2002 to cover 4.8 million acres, an amount equivalent to the entire size of New Jersey itself.

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In keeping with our winery theme today, our featured winery for the New Years is/was Silver Decoy Winery in East Windsor.

Silver Decoy is hosting a Winter Open House this Saturday, January 15th. A $5 admission includes a tasting glass. I’m a big fan of Silver Decoy’s Ugly Duckling mash which I like to serve ice cold as a desert wine.

Silvery Decoy has a great property and a very warm and inviting tasting room. We went to last year’s Winter Open House and spent an amazing afternoon there. According to my partner, who has California roots, the facility and presentation at Silver Decoy feels just like California.

In addition to tastings in the barrel room, there was a spread of free food in the tasting room and even brats grilling outside the backdoor on a patio overlooking their snow covered fields. I felt like I was back in Minnesota, where they really know how to have a good time in the middle of winter.

So, head on out to Silver Decoy Winery this weekend for a few hours. If you’re looking to get away, you won’t even feel like you’re in NJ.

Silver Decoy Winery
610 Windsor-Perrineville Road
East Windsor NJ,
(approx 1/4 from the intersection of Rt. 539)
(609) 371-6000

Currently open weekends, but call first. This Saturday’s Winter Open House is listed on the Web site.

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Update, January 11th: Here’s the Star Ledger story on Albano’s bills promoting NJ wineries.

Now, if we could just get the same off-season attention on our working farms, especially the small pocket farms in our developed and developing counties, we could really start educating the public on what it means to be The Garden State.

Update, January 10th, 4:45pm: The Assembly passed both bills today.

In keeping with his efforts to promote New Jersey growers and producers Assemblyman Albano is introducing legislation to help NJ Wineries today.

Albano’s bill directs the NJ Department of Transportation to develop a series of motorist signs to promote agricultural tourist attractions and a companion bill allows NJ wineries to participate in the program.

NJ recently became the fourth largest wine producer in the country according to a local vintner. NJ’s Department of Agriculture lists us as the fifth largest producer of wines in the U.S..

Albano’s new bills build off of his success with his Made With Jersey Fresh Bills which passed the legislature and were signed by the governor last year.

The Made with Jersey Fresh bills provide for the labeling of food products made with Jersey grown ingredients, directs state agencies to buy products made with NJ ingredients where feasible, and asks the NJ Turnpike authority to encourage sales of Made with Jersey Fresh products at service centers.

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La Vida Locavore’s Jill Richardson has a very nice post up today about what to look for in 2011.

A few points to consider:

1.) Tom Vilsack as White House Chief of Staff? I happen to like Tom Vilsack and feel he’s doing an admirable job trying to work within a system heavily tipped towards scale based agriculture. It’s tough to change direction overnight and even tougher to find a balancing point in a system with so many competing interests. If Vilsack actually becomes White House Chief of Staff, I think it could actually be a boon for bioregional food systems and small growers and producers.

2.) Work on the 2012 Farm Bill will begin later this year. Time to start gearing up.

3.) All Agriculture is local: As highlighted below, Jill Richardson believes that the greatest impact we can have right now is in the area of “non-political reform”. Linking people and communities to our local markets and farms is the best way to create change and build more robust bioregional food systems.

To that end, I’m making a commitment this year to cover at least 2 farmers markets a month in NJ from March to November and to finally hit the NJ wine trail with my girlfriend this year and highlight New Jersey’s growers and vintners.

Wineries are becoming an increasingly important part of the NJ agricultural landscape. I’ll talk more about that this year.

I’ll leave you with some great thoughts by Jill Richardson on the concept of All Agriculture is Local:

let’s work on non-political reforms to the food system because that’s probably where we’ll make the most progress right now. Volunteer in your kid’s school garden or in a local gardening group. Get involved in your community. Even just inviting friends over for a meal of fresh, ethically produced food is a great way to take action. Before people get active politically, often they need to get involved by falling in love with fresh food, or their farmers’ market, or gardening. We need to engage more people like that, so that more people have a real stake in our movement. Then, when the political situation changes, we’ll have more people on our side to speak out.

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