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July 27, 2011

Jersey Seafood Challenge
– First Lady Mary Pat Christie declared Scott Anderson of elements in Princeton the winner of the 2011 Jersey Seafood Challenge at Drumthwacket on June 30.  Anderson prepared his signature dish that featured fluke with garlic scapes, panko, arrowhead cabbage and herbaceous vinaigrette. As the champion, Anderson will represent New Jersey at the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans in August.  Fifteen chefs from all over New Jersey participated in the Jersey Seafood Challenge.

Gypsy Moth Defoliation Survey – Gypsy moth caterpillars damaged 1,317 acres of trees in 68 municipalities in 17 counties this spring.  More than half the damage was heavy.  The Department’s annual aerial defoliation survey showed that spray efforts in the Camden County towns of Waterford and Winslow Townships were successful, with no trees defoliated in Waterford and 5 acres of trees with leaf loss in Winslow.  The aerial spray program in May comprised 274 acres in the two municipalities.  Last year, gypsy moth caterpillars damaged 3,813 acres of trees, while 91,890 acres were defoliated in 2009. 

BJ’s Jersey Fresh Program -- Secretary Fisher visited the Hamilton Township BJ’s Wholesale Club to congratulate the company for making a commitment to sell Jersey Fresh produce at the company’s 20 locations in the state through its Farm to Club program.  BJ’s kicked off its Farm to Club program this summer offering produce from Maugeri Farms in Woolwich Township, Porch Farms in Pedricktown, Cassaday Farms in Monroeville and the Landisville Co-op in Landisville.  Photos of the farmers are displayed in the stores and also appear on the produce packaging. Since launching the Farm to Club program, BJ’s has sold 50 percent more zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, corn and cucumbers than the same time last year.  BJ’s Farm to Club produce sales are up 70 percent and overall produce sales are up 12 percent. The company made the commitment to sell Jersey Fresh after a pilot Jersey Fresh farmers market at its Manahawkin store last summer was so well-received by customers. 

Agricultural Achievement Award --  The Department is again accepting applications for the New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award, sponsored by Amy Butewicz, a former New Jersey Equestrian of the Year, as a way to give back to the community.  Worth $500, the scholarship is meant to assist its recipient in beginning their future in agriculture.  New Jersey residents who are entering their senior year in high school this fall and are planning a career in agriculture or science may apply for the award.  One winner will be selected and awarded a scholarship to honor their achievements.  To receive the award, submit a resume along with an essay answering the question, “How has your involvement within your respective nominating organization helped to shape your future career choice?”  Contestants must also be a current, active member of an organization either on the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and/or represented at the Youth Reception portion of the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention.  Each organization on the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and a participant of the State Agricultural Convention is able to nominate a maximum of two contestants.  Applications must be mailed to the Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 330, Trenton,
NJ 08625.

Animal Health Network – The Department, in cooperation with Rutgers University and the Cooperative Extension System, is in the process of organizing a New Jersey branch of the Animal Health Network (AHN) to help reach small livestock and poultry owners with vital animal disease-related alerts and information from the State Veterinarian.  The system uses local feed retailers in addition to the existing extension system to get important messages out to limit the spread of disease and safeguard animals. The State Veterinarian will be the lead in activating the network and creating the alert/message content.  Once established, two tests will be conducted on the system and then testing will be done annually.

CASE Institute -- Rutgers University and Northern Burlington Regional High School along with The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will host an 80-hour training course for high school teachers from around the country August 1 through 11 in Burlington County to prepare them to teach a rigorous, academic hands-on course to agriculture students.  Nineteen teachers are registered to attend the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Institute at Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus, from as far away as Oregon.  The  participants will become certified to teach “Principles of Agricultural Science – Plant” course and will be provided the curriculum and  practical experience to teacher the course upon completion of the eleven day session.  CASE is an instructional system that provides intense teacher professional development and curriculum that is changing the culture of agriculture programs, in our state and country.  The CASE Program includes courses and lessons that build on each previous course/lesson coupled with inquiry-based lesson delivery style, leading students to a higher understanding of big-picture science, technology, engineering and math concepts in agriculture.   New Jersey has 13 schools offering CASE courses, including Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Principles of Agricultural Science - Plant and Principles of Agricultural Science – Animal.

Summer Food Donations – Secretary Fisher visited the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Hope Mobile food pantry on July 27 to call attention to the need for food donations 12 months a year.  Summer traditionally is a time when food pantries report less donated food items to stock their shelves.  Fisher watched a food distribution at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Thorofare, which regularly serves between 100 and 150 people.  The Hope Mobile distributes to 15 sites monthly throughout Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Salem Counties and reaches more than 21,000 families faced with food insecurity issues.  To date, the Hope Mobile has distributed more than 156,000 pounds of food each month since it went on the road in July 2010.  The tractor trailer used as the Hope Mobile can hold 45,000 pounds of food and also provides cooking classes, nutrition education, food stamp outreach and other services to improve nutrition and self-reliance.

Summer Food Service Program – This year, there are 89 Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) sponsors, seven of which are new.  Sponsor and site information was forwarded to the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry and the New Jersey 211 Hotline to ensure families are able to find feeding locations.

Farm to School Week – Planning is underway for the first official Farm to School Week in New Jersey, the week of September 24-28.  School visits are planned during the week and the Department will coordinate marketing and promotional efforts.  Laminated seasonality cards were produced by the New Jersey Farm Bureau using a grant from the USDA and are being distributed to the state’s school food service operators.  The Department also will mark National Farm to School Month in October.

Agricultural Fairs -- The Agricultural Fair season opened July 4 with the Cumberland County Fair. Fairs continue through August 28 with the Hunterdon County Fair.  Fair listings can be found at