Archive for June, 2012

The NJ Agricultural Leadership Program is now accepting applications for the 2012 program.

Applications can be found here.

The program is run by the New Jersey Agricultural Society which was founded in 17871 and is focused on enhancing and improving agriculture in the Garden State.

The goal of the program is to develop experts in New Jersey agriculture who understand the intersection between policy, economics, business and the land.

Participation is limited to people already employed in agriculture or agricultural related activities.


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The produce and veggies are coming in strong. Hauser Hills Farm sold out of red onions and green beans early. Blueberries were 4 quarts for $10 at the stand next right next to Hauser. I was able to grab some super fresh white onions and broccoli for tomorrow night’s stir fry.

I didn’t get far down the row, but it appeared that some sweet corn was coming in.

E.R. & Sons gave me free beet greens from a customer who wanted them chopped off. Needless to say I was psyched. I’ll be cooking them up with some oil and garlic to serve alongside some leftover homemade paprika chicken and spatezle a friend made for dinner Friday night. Fresh broccoli rabe, fresh mixed greens and a big bag of fresh mint completed my mix. But they also have wonderful looking romaine lettuce, chard, kale, collard greens, watercress, garlic scapes. They also offered a nice set of Dandelion greens. Anyone looking to cook up some greens, especially if you are looking for some sides for BBQ would do well to pay them a visit.

Jesse from Jesse’s in Long Branch was out as usual and I replenished our stock of Jesse’s herb vinagrette, which goes well with herbs, slaw, anything you can imagine. Her restaurant in West End is a wonderful place with many fresh made, home made, healthy options and well worth a visit.

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Thursdays from 4pm – 7pm at the 1st Avenue Green Space.  Next to the Watermark.

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New Jersey’s berry season is in high gear and even the sweet corn is starting to come in piles as a warm winter and mild spring have contributed to one of NJ’s earliest harvest seasons ever.

NJ Blueberries were being picked on May 31st according to Al Murray who runs the Jersey Fresh program and is New Jersey’s Assistant Secretary of Agriculture.

That’s a good ten days earlier then normal. The strawberry season was done by June 10th if my perusal of central NJ farmers markets held true statewide.

So if New Jersey berries and peaches are must haves, make sure you hit your local farmers markets and supermarkets this week.

H/T to Jaime Lutz at the Star Ledger

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The so-called “fake farmers” bill passed out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee yesterday.

The bill, a signature issue of State Senator Jennifer Beck raises required annual agricultural sales to $1000 per year, up from the current requirement of $500 per year.

The minimum acreage requirement remains at 5 acres which is a plus for new farmers in the state as well as for farmers who lease multiple plots of land from property owners in order to make a go of their farming operations. New Jersey has some of the most expensive and scarce farmland in the country and with the average age of the New Jersey farmer at 57, maintaining our state’s agricultural heritage and going farming concerns is an increasing challenge as the number of NJ farms increase while the average size of a New Jersey farm decreases.

The bill adds periodic reviews of the minimum sales requirement and annual evidence of agricultural sales is also required. Proof of income or sales must be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

Most importantly, tax assessors in farming intensive communities will now be required to be trained on farmland assessment in order to be licensed and the State Board of Taxation and State Board of Agriculture will now issue guidelines to help tax assessors identify and qualify legitimate farming activities.

As an interesting side note, the State Board of Agriculture is actually not the same entity as the NJ Department of Agriculture. Governance of the Ag sector in New Jersey is really quite interesting.

In brief, members of the State Board of Agriculture are elected by delegates at New Jersey’s annual state agricultural convention. Board members are then confirmed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate.

The State Board of Agriculture in turn governs the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Any hiring or firing of NJ’s Secretary of Agriculture requires the consent of the State Board of Agriculture. It’s a system that’s been in place since 1914 and the formal establishment of the NJ Department of Agriculture. This system was kept in place even after the state modernized government with the passage of the new NJ State Constitution in 1947.

These changes to NJ’s farmland assessment law have been a long-time in coming.

The bill appears to be a very serious compromise around the very serious issues of open space and fair taxation.

Revenue requirements are higher and the state will now provide some guidance around what legitimate farming operations look like. Just leasing and housing goats to “mow” your lawn will no longer suffice to qualify as a farming activity. At least one would hope.

What I would really liked to have seen in the bill is a minimum holdings requirement that would require lands assessed as farmland to be held in agricultural use for a certain number of years, 5, 10, 15, maybe more. This would ensure prime NJ agricultural lands aren’t simply being banked until the real estate market improves.

Cross-posted at Blue Jersey

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From yesterday’s Courier Post:

Bumper crop: Warm spring brings out peaches, blueberries”

Rutgers Cooperative Service Agent Jerry Frecon:

“In the 48 years I have been working with peaches — and 30 of them in New Jersey — I had never seen peaches bloom this early, and even with the cooler weather in May we are still 10 days to two weeks early.”

NJ Peach Grower Ed Gaventa:

“We’ve never picked that early in my lifetime, I know,” he said.

NJ Blueberries first started showing up last week at Farmers Markets and New Jersey supermarkets. First harvest was June 8th according to the Courier Post.

NJ Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher announced the official start of the New Jersey blueberry season on June 12th, almost two weeks earlier then the usual first harvest.

Yesterday, I came across homemade peach pie and homemade peach berry pie at the Long Branch Poultry Farm.

A very mild winter — an old fashioned European Spring according to one wag — combined with a very hot March and April is credited with the early start of the fruit growing season in New Jersey.

But NJ peaches before the official first day of summer on June 21st? That’s just downright weird.

Update: I missed this story earlier. Sweet corn, other prized Jersey vegetables being harvested early thanks to warm winter, spring

Calls about fresh NJ produce at farmstands, farmers markets and supermarkets came in early in June!

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Collingswood Farmers Market.  June 16th 2012.  I was in South Jersey yesterday and spent some time at the farmers market in Collingswood.

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