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Archive for October, 2011

Nice coverage by the Press of Atlantic City on collaboration and innovation across New Jersey’s agricultural, food, and academic sectors. Everyone’s pulling together to enable Garden State produce and products to be available year-round.

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Great article on the work the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency is doing to help restore wetlands. The 500 acre project is part of the National Wetlands Reserve Project which helps private landowners restore productive wetlands. For farmers, the program provides ways to use marginal or unproductive lands for purposes other than intensive, fertilizer-based crop cultivation. The wetlands restoration projects can help restore soil quality and reduce flooding as well as provide a carbon sink for greenhouse gases and wildlife habitat.

5,000 acres of wetlands are currently being restored in New Jersey. Nationally, 2.3 million acres are enrolled in the wetlands restoration program.

More creative partnerships like these are what is needed to protect and preserve New Jersey’s land base.

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Over the weekend, Michele Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, published an opinion piece where she ran through the numbers on New Jersey sprawl. This is a very important read and is based on Rowan University’s June report on land use patterns in Monmouth and Somerset Counties, which finds large-lot development to be the norm. Projecting the trends into the future, Byers sees some not so smart growth with a very stark split between the locations of jobs and homes in the Garden State.

A little over a year and a half ago I looked at New Jersey’s land base numbers in my post Farms, Open Space Preservation and Business Development: Perfect Together. Over a thirty year period, New Jersey lost 384,000 acres of farmland to development in a state of 4.8 million acres. Combined with losses in forests and wetlands, 672,00 acres of open space disappeared in this same thirty year period between the early 1970’s and the early 2000s. We can’t continue to lose land at this pace, especially if we want to continue to be a national leader in agricultural production and ensure that our farms, farm stands and farmers markets continue to be located close to home.

Agriculture may actually be New Jersey’s true competitive advantage. Continued sprawl can only put increased pressures on our land base and working farms, increase our commute times and erode our state economy.

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Stressing the importance of farmers markets to provide fresh, quality and nutritious food for many New Jersey residents, NJ Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher visited Common Greens Farmers Market last Thursday. The Common Green Farmers Market operates Thursday’s from 11am to 3pm from June through the end of October and has been running for nine years.

“For some New Jersey residents, farmers markets are the only source they have for nutritious local produce,” said Secretary Fisher. “The Christie Administration strongly supports programs to give those residents better access to our farmers’ fruits and vegetables.”

Farmers Markets are still running strong through the end of October and many operate right through Thanksgiving. Long Branch’s West End Farmers Market runs through early December, or as long as the farmers still have produce and farm products to sell.

Many Farmers Markets participate in both the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the WIC (Women, Children and Infant’s) program, both are operated through the State Department of Health and Human Services. Recipients of the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) receive $20 in checks, valid through November 30. FMNP checks are distributed through local WIC Agencies and County Offices on Aging.

148 Farmers Markets are operating in New Jersey this season.

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