Gypsy Moth Defoliation -- The amount of tree damage caused by gypsy moth caterpillars this year was less than half of what it was last year and was mostly concentrated in the northern counties. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s annual statewide gypsy moth aerial defoliation survey showed 1,330 acres of trees in 24 municipalities in 11 counties were defoliated, as compared to 2013 when 2,887 acres of trees in 51 towns in 17 counties were damaged. The defoliation survey was conducted in late June and early July. Tree damage was centered in Morris, Passaic, Bergen and Sussex counties, which sustained 1,110 acres of tree damage. Minimal amounts of damage were seen in Burlington, Camden, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean and Warren Counties. For more details from the survey, go to www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/pdf/2014gmsurvey.pdf.
Emerald Ash Borer -- Two more Emerald Ash Borer infested trees were detected in Bridgewater Township, Somerset County near initial find. Field staff conducted investigations at 56 locations in 16 municipalities in eight counties. All investigations have been negative for EAB and have identified severe ash decline resulting from a combination of ash yellows disease and native ash wood borers. The statewide Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) survey continued this month. EAB traps have been deployed in all counties except Middlesex. Those traps will be deployed shortly. So far no additional EAB findings have been detected though this survey in the state.
Farmers Market Opening Tour -- Secretary Fisher celebrated the beginning of community farmer’s market season in New Jersey on July 3 with visits to farmers markets in Mercer, Monmouth and Burlington Counties. The farmers market tour brought attention to the more than 145 farmers markets operating statewide. Garden State farmers markets offer residents the opportunity to enjoy freshly-picked, Jersey Fresh produce directly from New Jersey farmers, while supporting state agriculture and their local economies at the same time. Fisher made stops at the Princeton Farmers Market, West End Farmers Market in Long Branch and the Chesterfield Healthy Community Farmers Market.
Summer Food Service Program Kick-Off -- Secretary Fisher helped serve lunch to 150 students on June 30 at Winslow Township School #6 as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. School #6 is one of three summer nutrition sites sponsored by the Winslow Township School District. This is the third summer the District has participated in the Summer Food Service program, which helps ensure children who receive free or reduced price lunch during the school year continue getting healthy meals during the summer. Secretary Fisher called attention to these programs in an effort to increase awareness of their availability in locations throughout New Jersey. A total of 100 sponsors and 1,074 feeding sites will be approved to operate during the 2014 summer operating period.
Jersey Seafood Challenge -- Secretary Fisher declared Jeffry Wierzbicki and his Sous Chef Brian Kirby of Winberie’s in Summit the winners of the 2014 Jersey Seafood Challenge on June 26 for the signature dish, New Jersey Scallop BLT. As the champion, Wierzbicki and Kirby will be New Jersey’s official representatives at the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans in August. The competition was held at Viking Village in Barnegat Light. Wierzbicki earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. He began his career at the Boston Harbor Hotel and the Bay Tower Room in Boston. He also spent time working at Biarritz, France, Ambergris Caye, Belize as well as opening Epicurean Restaurant at Mission Point Resort in Michigan. He has been Executive Chef at Winberie’s in Summit for more than eight years.
Fresh Produce Webinar -- A Fresh Produce Training Webinar was held June 20 and July 10 for the Emergency Feeding Operations. The training was conducted by Meredith Melendez, Senior Program Coordinator, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension of Mercer County and William Walker, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Division of Markets, New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Topics covered included: sourcing, purchasing and distributing fresh produce, the Food Safety Modernization Act, produce handling and storage. The webinar will be posted on the Department of Agriculture website for future reference.
Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriation -- On January 29, 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-2), providing TEFAP States impacted by Hurricane Sandy with supplemental funding for USDA foods and administrative resources. New Jersey was one of the states determined eligible for assistance. The supplemental assistance was intended to replace food and administrative resources that were diverted for Hurricane Sandy relief. The EFOs received peanut butter and canned chicken purchased with these additional Sandy Relief funds. In addition, several of the EFOs, with sufficient documentation, will receive additional funding this month to offset the costs related to USDA and non-USDA administrative resources and food diverted State-wide for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Disaster Resilience – The Department hosted a presentation by Dr. Dane Egli on the “Value of Resilience for Agriculture in The Face of Complexity and Inevitable Disasters” on June 24. Dr. Egli has an extensive background in Homeland Security and he is a senior advisor for the National Security Strategies at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Agriculture is one of the 16 key critical infrastructures and disruptive events to agriculture, as well as other infrastructures, are happening in greater numbers and intensity. He offered insights that might inspire a new generation of leaders to move the natural impulse to simply fix things when they break or shut down things when attacks, disasters or a crisis occurs. He answered the question how we can best prepare our communities, businesses and networks in a way that reflects the adaptation and smart resilience in the face of increasing storms and scarce resources.
Agricultural Fair Season – Agricultural fairs are underway throughout the state. July fairs include: Burlington County Farm Fair, Cumberland County Cooperative Fair, Monmouth County Fair, Morris County 4-H Fair, Cape May County 4-H Fair, Freedom Fest State Fair, Cumberland County 4-H Fair, and Warren County Farmers Fair.
FFA Golf Tournament -- The 13th Annual FFA Golf Tournament in honor of Jacque and Cyndee Roszel was held June 24 in Cream Ridge with 60 golfers and many sponsors. More than $7,000 was raised to support scholarships, student leadership development programs, and state officer training.