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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

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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.

Via Asbury Park Boardwalk’s Facebook Page

From 12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief: “This was a song I wrote for my adopted home town, Asbury Park, when it was struggling on hard times. For 25 years you could go to Asbury in the summer and there was no one on its beaches, no one on its boardwalk; then over the past decade, thanks to the arts community moving in, thanks to the gay community, thanks to people who lived there and toughed it out for that whole quarter of a century, the town has had a renaissance and come back and if you go there in the summer now, the beaches are filled with people and the boardwalk is lined with local businesses and there’s all kinds of people there: rich people, poor people, brown people, black people, white people, all on the boardwalk. So it was painful to see it damaged after all that time from the recent storm and to see our Jersey shore damaged, because the Jersey shore has always been a special place. It’s been inclusive. If you got a few bucks you can have a beach house. But if you’re a retired police man or retired fireman, you can have a cottage by the sea in Point pleasant or Manasquan or Lavallette, and that’s been a principal part of the characters of the Jersey Shore and it’s what’s made it special. I’m sure there will be a lot of difficult conversations when the rebuilding comes around but I pray that that characteristic remains along the Jersey Shore, it’s what makes is special. So tonight this is a prayer for all of our struggling brothers and sisters in New York and all along New Jersey. Here we go man.” Bruce then sings “My City of Ruins”

    And from America’s other bard, a poem by Walt Whitman, who also called New Jersey home:

America

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

Great post with some really visionary thinking from PermaJersey who began writing on post-Sandy issues for the Jersey Shore Bicycle coalition in November.

“Don’t Restore the Shore Regrow it!”

Some great ideas here including bundling the cost of new bike lanes and electrification on the North Jersey Coast Line from Long Branch to Bayhead into our overall rebuilding plan.

Even more intriguing is the idea of rebuilding the barrier island from Bayhead to South Seaside Park with streetcar lines along Route 35 with an emphasis on Dunes, boardwalks and amusement parks and limited or no residential development east of 35 and the new dune line.

Interesting proposal that is really forward-looking and would turn New Jersey towards the 21st century.

Great stuff!

Generating much discussion over the last couple of days is this pair of articles from the New York Times on the efficacy of dune protection during Sandy.

Resisted for Blocking the View, Dunes Prove They Blunt Storm

Sand Dunes Alone Will Not Save the Day

Much talk is centering around Bradley Beach’s 15 year old dune protection and rebuilding project and their use of tiled stone for the “boardwalk” rather than the traditional boards we all know and love.

When I moved back to New Jersey, I was amazed at how much the Bradley Beach dunes had grown in the decade or so I was away. My kids took Karate lessons with a school that held lessons on the beach there in warm weather. I remember walking through these little mounds of sand with tufts of grass sticking up in them. When I came back, they were almost twice as high as I am. And the cost of the project was about $10,000 in 1996 according to Bradley Beach’s DPW director.

Bradley Beach was also protected because they don’t have a back bay or a tidal river bounding them like many New Jersey coastal towns do.

But the experience of Bradley Beach and the experience of hard hit NJ Shore communities should increase our awareness of the need for ecosystem integrity and maintenance as as we rebuild in hazardous locales. Dunes play a critical role in ecosystem integrity in coastal areas.

As we begin rebuilding we should also begin revisiting the idea of watershed planning in New Jersey. This was a concept advocated by the NJDEP under Governor Whitman and would enable us to take a more balanced approach to issues like agriculture, flood plain management, water quality, natural resource protection and residential and commercial development both in the hazardous coastal areas and across the state, especially in sensitive areas like the NJ Highlands and the NJ Pinelands

In the rush to rebuild, let’s not reinvent the wheel. We need to learn from what happened and rebuild our communities so they are both more resilient and better integrated with the coastal processes surrounding us.

Two stories that highlight the dangerous games Governor Christie is playing with the state’s future:

1.) Atlantic City’s Revel resort, $1.3B in debt, faces potential bankruptcy or foreclosure

2.) NJ stallions seek greener pastures, find them in Pa.

“New Jersey is no longer competitive, putting more than 170,000 acres of equine farmland in jeopardy,” said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento on the association’s website, sboanj.com. Luchento also pointed to what he said are more than 10,000 jobs at stake should New Jersey wind up out of the equine business.”

Research from the Rutgers Equine Center shows that the NJ equine industry has a $1.1 billion economic impact across the state and accounts for 13,000 jobs.

So it begs the question:

Q: Why are we gambling with New Jersey’s agricultural future?

But there some very simple answers that can help preserve NJ Agriculture and also rebuild Atlantic City.

a.) If preserving and improving Atlantic City is dependent on casinos and gaming activities, why not headquarter all of New Jersey’s gaming, equine and tourism marketing, regulatory and related law enforcement agencies in Atlantic City with satellite offices in Trenton and on the northern shore in Asbury Park, near Monmouth Park, or at Fort Monmouth?

b.) The partnership between Rutgers, Johnson & Johnson and the City of New Brunswick/Devco is widely seen as the key driver of the revitalization of New Brunswick over the last quarter century. Why not recreate this model in Atlantic City with state gaming, tourism and equine agencies and offices?

If we’re serious about saving and rebuilding Atlantic City why not allow gaming at Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands and make Atlantic City the hub of New Jersey’s gaming and tourism agencies and commissions?

A steady stream of office workers everyday would help sustain and create new small businesses in Atlantic City itself.

Locating state and association headquarters and satellite offices in Atlantic City would also keep AC front of mind year-round, not just in the summer or when a casino hits hard times.

It’s not a quick fix, it’s a long-term process, but it’s a process that accounts for more than just the casino owner’s interests.

Cross-posted at Blue Jersey

Could locally-sourced, Jersey Fresh growers and producers compete effectively in today’s NJ economy? What type of jobs could they contribute and at what wages?