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Announces Panel to Develop and Expand Agri-Tourism Industry in State

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2004


Lynne Richmond




(EAST WINDSOR) – New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today kicked off the start of the fall agri-tourism season by venturing into K & S Farms’ 9-acre corn maze cut in the shape of the Garden State. He also announced the appointments to a new advisory council that is charged with helping agri-tourism grow in New Jersey.

“Agri-tourism, such as corn mazes, hay rides, and pick-your-own farms, is about spending time with your family outdoors and enjoying New Jersey farms,” says Secretary Kuperus. “People of all ages love these fall activities, and the council plans to work to promote and strengthen agri-tourism.”

The New Jersey Agri-Tourism Industry Advisory Council is made up of five at-large agri-tourism operators; five designated members from the New Jersey Wine Industry, New Jersey Agricultural Fairs Association, New Jersey Equine Industry Advisory Council, New Jersey Direct Marketing Association, and New Jersey agricultural museums/living history farms; and four ex-officio members: the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Rutgers University, and the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Development Commission.

The Council is part of the Department’s economic development strategies and was created in acknowledgement of the agri-tourism sector’s potential for growth in New Jersey.

Sharon Kyle, an owner of K & S Farms and an at-large member of the council, says agri-tourism is growing by leaps and bounds in the state because the public is looking for these types of activities.

“Because many people know very little about farming and how things grow, we wanted to invite the public to our farm so they could experience farm life,” said Kyle. “At the same time, to be able to continue to remain in agriculture in New Jersey, we needed to diversify our operation, so we added the corn maze.”

The Kyles started their corn maze last year and plan to open the 2004 maze on September 25. The maze, designed and cut by Rob Stouffer of Precision Mazes in Missouri, has three miles of pathways and visitors must collect tokens representing 10 New Jersey cities to fully complete their journey. The maze is located on a portion of a 77-acre tract of preserved farmland the Kyles purchased in 2003.

“The Kyles are a perfect example of how New Jersey farmers are turning to agri-tourism ventures to improve their economic viability by expanding their retail season,” said Secretary Kuperus.

While there are no agri-tourism statistics in New Jersey, travel and tourism in general is the state’s second largest industry, generating $31 billion in revenues annually. As an example, income from agri-tourism related activities on Vermont farms totaled $19.5 million in 2002.

Agri-tourism includes pick-your-own activities; hay rides; corn mazes; farm tours; living history farms and other educational activities; agricultural food and seafood festivals; county fairs; equine industry activities including horsebackriding; and other entertainment and recreational opportunities.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture provides these agri-tourism links:

- For pick-your-own farms, roadside markets and community farmers’ markets: http://www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/
- For Agricultural Fairs: http://www.njagfairs.com/
- For a list of New Jersey wineries: http://www.nj.gov/jerseyfresh/wine.htm
- For agriculture education sites in New Jersey: http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/histsite.htm
- For Horse Park of New Jersey information: http://www.horseparkofnewjersey.com/
- For the equine calendar of events for September: http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/horsecal0804.htm
- For a comprehensive list of New Jersey gardens and arboretums: http://www.jerseygrown.nj.gov/njgardens.html
- For New Jersey seafood festivals: http://www.nj.gov/seafood/