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Photo of the Twitter training - Click to enlarge
Program Funded Through NJDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Funds

For Immediate Release: February 7, 2013
Contact: Lynne Richmond 
(609) 633-2954

(ATLANTIC CITY) – A grant awarded by the Christie Administration is funding a project to instantaneously connect farmers and school food service procurement professionals to facilitate the purchasing of Jersey Fresh produce for use in school meal programs.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture awarded New Jersey Farm Bureau with a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant for the New Jersey Farm to School Twitter Program.

“Creative and innovative programs like this, utilizing new technologies, are vital to advance New Jersey agriculture,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “Using social media to help connect farmers and school food service will increase the amount of Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in schools." 

Farm Bureau is partnering with the New Jersey Farm to School Network to coordinate the program and a training was held in Atlantic City during the New Jersey Agricultural and Vegetable Growers Convention and Trade Show on February 7. 

Photo of twitter training
Sheri Kurdakul of the NJ Farm to School Network leads the training.

“This social media/twitter training between school produce buyers and produce farmers is the type of experiment that may lead to  new practices in communication for many other perishable crop producers and thereby improve the financial viability of those farmers,” said New Jersey Farm Bureau Executive Director Peter Furey.

The 10 participants in the training learned how to set up their Twitter accounts and operate the program on their smart phones.  They also learned when and how to communicate using the program.

Initially, six farmers and five school food service professionals will use GroupTweet to communicate.  GroupTweet is a secure third-party Twitter application that allows multiple people to tweet to others in the group using a single Twitter account.

“Direct communication between farmers and their representatives and institutional food service buyers is a must for increasing local purchasing of New Jersey grown produce,” said Beth Feehan, director of the New Jersey Farm to School Network. 

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture partners with the New Jersey Farm to School Network on the Farm to School Program.  The Department hosts the annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, the last week of every September.  The goal of the program is to encourage school students to eat healthier by increasing the amount of local produce on school menus. 

For more information about the Farm to School Program, visit