Social Media -- Secretary Fisher kicked off the first Jersey Fresh social media campaign, #JerseyFreshLove, on May 14 during a stop at the Farm and Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill. The Department wants to hear from Jersey Fresh produce fans about where they get their New Jersey grown fruits and vegetables, how the produce is being used and their favorite farms to visit. The Department is looking for people to share their love of Jersey Fresh through photos – post images of favorite Jersey Fresh fruits, vegetables or dishes; a local farmer, farmers market or roadside stand; a favorite restaurant that serves Jersey Fresh and Jersey Seafood dishes; a visit to a winery; or agritourism adventure. Also, post spottings of the Jersey Fresh logo or share a recipe. Tell us a little about your photo, where you are and why you love it so much. Be sure to include the hashtag #JerseyFreshLove in all your posts about Jersey Fresh. Each week the Department will gather some favorites into an album and share them. Remember to show your Jersey Fresh Love.
Plant Something -- Secretary Fisher joined the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association at Condursos Garden Center in Montville, on May 4 to kick off a campaign that encourages people to plant something this spring and live a better life. Secretary Fisher and NJNLA representatives talked about New Jersey’s Plant Something campaign (www.plantsomethingnj.org), which promotes the benefits of gardening, using materials purchased locally. The Department of Agriculture supported Plant Something by providing the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association (NJNLA) with a $40,000 federal Specialty Crop Block Grant. With these funds, the NJNLA has produced brochures, posters, window clings, bumper stickers and plant stakes as well as two 30-second radio public service announcements conveying the message, “Don’t Just Stand There…Plant Something.” Fisher presented NJNLA Executive Director Dominick Mondi and Condursos’ owner Anthony Luciano with a statewide proclamation declaring the week of May 3-9 as Plant Something Week in the Garden State. This week celebrated New Jersey’s vibrant $445 million horticulture industry.
Agricultural Plastic Recycling -- Secretary Fisher was on hand on at the Cumberland Solid Waste Complex in Deerfield on May 15 for the first day of the 2015 plastic pesticide container recycling program. The facility is one of six sites around the state that accept the triple-washed containers from now through November. There is no cost for the program. The state has had a plastic pesticide container recycling program for the last 20 years, with the Department of Agriculture leading the initiative since 2002. The program is open to all New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-(DEP)-licensed pesticide applicators. The DEP issues participants one-core credit toward their NJDEP pesticide license. Participation keeps these plastics out of landfills and saves them money.
Invasive Pests – Gypsy moth spraying took place on May 21 in two municipalities and two county parks in Morris and Passaic. Downstown Aerocrop Service of Vineland, was contracted to perform the aerial suppression activities. Efforts to track the emerald ash borer continue this season with a delimiting survey. A total of 81 purple sticky traps have been set up in municipalities by volunteers surrounding the five positive locations identified last year in the state.
Pipeline Condemnations of Preserved Farmland – The SADC has reported how to calculate its share of condemnation awards from pipeline utility projects on preserved farmland. The SADC is required to base its share of such awards on the full settlement value, as opposed to what can be a lower appraised value, on each individual farm taking. The SADC has sent letters to each affected landowner explaining the matter in detail, and copied county counsel and the pipeline companies in relation to the two pending condemnation cases before the agency – the Transco Pipeline “Leidy” project in Hunterdon and Somerset counties and the Columbia Gas pipeline project in Gloucester County.
Organic Certification Grants -- The Department announced on May 21 a partnership with the federal government to reduce organic certification costs. Through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, each qualified producer or handler of organic products is eligible for a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of its costs of certification not to exceed $750. Applications must be received by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture no later than November 19, 2015. Applications and more information about the program are available online at www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/organiccostshare.html.
NJ Envirothon -- A team of high school students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES) in Manahawkin was the winner of the New Jersey Envirothon, held Saturday, May 2 at the Cape May County 4-H Fairgrounds in Cape May Court House. MATES Team One consisted of Gillian Schriever of Little Egg Harbor, Megan Tumpey of Brick, Lauren Zodl of Little Egg Harbor, Michael Signorelli of Toms River and Katie DeMario of Toms River. The team will represent New Jersey in the North American Envirothon July 27 – August 2 at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. The Ocean County students competed against 33 other teams on knowledge of natural resources-related topics, including soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife ecology and a current environmental issue. This year’s theme was “Urban – Community Forestry.”
Jets Eat Right, Move More Program – Division of Food and Nutrition School Nutrition Coordinator Arleen Ramos-Szatmary along with New York Jets punter Ryan Quigley and tight end Chris Pantale honored Aaron Decker School in Butler and Glen Meadow Middles School in Vernon Township in May 24 as two of this year’s first-prize winners in the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Jets PLAY 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program. The Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and New York Jets players Quigley and Pantale held a special program for the students at the two schools and presented them with a $5,000 prize to be used for kitchen updates and physical education equipment, made possible by the Jets, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Inc. The final program of the spring is slated for May 29 at Adamsville Primary School in Bridgewater.
State FFA Convention -- Secretary Fisher opened the New Jersey FFA’s annual convention in West Long Branch on May 20 with a message to the future leaders of the state’s agriculture industry to find their purpose and passion and reach for their dreams. More than 400 students, advisors and staff attended the convention at Monmouth University, which has a theme of “Break Through Limits.” Highlights of the three-day convention included a talk entitled, “Going All In,” by motivational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez, who was named a NJ Hero by first lady Mary Pat Christie in 2012. Members also heard from National FFA Central Region Vice President Kristen Schmidt.
Agricultural Education Teachers -- There are three openings for Teachers of Agriculture for the 2015-16 school year. Warren Hills Regional School district posted a position due to a retirement; Woodstown High School posted a position due to non-renewal of the current teacher and Cape May Tech will post a vacancy do to the recent passing of their horticulture teacher. Nationwide, the supply of agriculture teachers continues to be low with more positions than people to fill them.
Animal Health Pathologist -- Dr. Angelique Leone has joined the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory as a Veterinary Pathologist. She received her undergraduate degree from the Rutgers University and DVM (VMD) from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She was a resident veterinary pathologist at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine and worked as veterinary pathologist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom from 2013 to 2014. She has diverse experience and will be part of the AHDL’s expanding pathology services.
Eastern Produce Council Dinner -- The Department hosted the May 19 Eastern Produce Council dinner at Demarest Farms in Bergen County to promote Jersey Fresh agricultural products to more than 240 council members representing the NYC regional retail, sales (brokers & buyers), and transportation and service companies related to the produce industry.