Specialty Crop Block Grants - The Christie Administration has received a $707,065 Specialty Crop Block Grant to fund 11 initiatives to benefit Garden State crops such as fruits, vegetables, as well as horticulture and nursery. The grants are part of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to promote specialty crops in the nation and stimulate food-and agriculturally-based community economic development. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will use $342,000 of the funding to support the popular Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs. Funding will go to: New Jersey Agricultural Society; Atlantic County Board of Agriculture; New Jersey Blueberry Growers Association; New Jersey Farmers' Direct Marketing Association; Garden State Wine Growers Association; New Jersey Peach Promotion Council; Trenton Farmers Market; Tri-County Cooperative Market Association. The New Jersey grant is part of $63 million in 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grants that will fund 755 projects throughout the nation.
Gypsy Moth Suppression - A public meeting will be held at the Health and Agriculture building in Trenton on January 6 to discuss the proposed gypsy moth caterpillar spray plan for 2016. Almost all municipal ground egg mass surveys requested have been completed and more than 16,232 acres have been identified as qualifying for treatment in 53 spray blocks in 24 municipalities in (Cape May, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Salem, Sussex, and Warren Counties).
Christmas Tree Donation Day -- More than 100 New Jersey Christmas trees were delivered to New Jersey National Guardsmen and their families on December 14 as part of Christmas Trees for New Jersey Military Families, a joint initiative of the New Jersey Departments of Agriculture and Military and Veterans Affairs, the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association and New Jersey Agricultural Society's Farmers Against Hunger program. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher welcomed military families at a special ceremony at the New Jersey National Guard Joint Military and Family Assistance Center in Bordentown. Christmas Trees for New Jersey Military Families is a new collaborative program. The New Jersey Agricultural Society collected the trees over a three-day period using their Farmers Against Hunger trucks. More than 12 New Jersey Christmas tree growers donated over 100 trees for the initiative. More than 50 soldiers and airmen picked up trees during the event. The remaining 50 trees will be collected by unit representatives who will deliver the trees to families who currently have a loved one deployed.
Choose and Cut Christmas Tree Season -- As part of the Christie Administration's fifth annual ‘Season of Service' initiative, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher cut a Christmas tree at Wyckoff's Tree Farm in White Township, Warren County, on November 30 ceremonially kicking off the choose and cut Christmas tree season. Secretary Fisher also thanked growers for their generosity in participating in "Christmas Trees for New Jersey Military Families." Governor Christie proclaimed November 30 as Jersey Grown Christmas Tree Day, encouraging New Jersey residents to support the state's farmers and visit choose and cut Christmas tree farms, as well as showing appreciation of our military during the holiday season. Wyckoff's Christmas Tree Farm won the 2015 New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association Christmas annual tree contest with a Fraser Fir.
Jersey Fresh Online Store -- An online store called the Jersey Fresh Shop was built and launched, hosted by Cafe Press. The store offers merchandise such as t-shirts, aprons, car magnets, home goods and gifts bearing the Jersey Fresh logo. All proceeds from the store will go directly toward promoting New Jersey farmers and the produce grown within the state through the Jersey Fresh program. The online store can be found at; http://www.cafepress.com/jerseyfreshshop.
Thanksgiving Soup Kitchen Visit -- New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today joined volunteer wait staff at St. Ann's Soup Kitchen, helping to serve Thanksgiving lunch to 300 area residents in need. The lunch consisted of turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, bread, soup, and desserts. Brother Paul Miller of the Secular Franciscan Order and founder of Franciscan Charities opened the soup kitchen about 10 years ago. The kitchen serves 240 people per day, 5 days a week Monday thru Thursday and Saturday. The first kitchen consisted of a few volunteers in the abandoned St. Ann's church. On its first day 12 people were served. There was no kitchen and very little access to running water or electricity, but the volunteers kept coming back. More than 300 volunteers joined and St. Ann's Church was restored to a fully functioning house of worship with a kitchen. In addition to St. Ann's Soup Kitchen, Franciscan Charities also operates St. Rocco's Food Pantry which is open the third and fourth Saturdays of each month from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Both St. Ann's and St. Rocco's receive donations from the public, different religious organizations, grants through Shop-Rite supermarkets and government programs, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and New Jersey Department of Agriculture's State Food Purchase Program (SFPP).
Eat Right, Move More Program -- Carlstadt Public School in Carlstadt, NJ, was honored on December 1 by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the New York Jets as this year's regular season winner of the Department of Agriculture's Jets PLAY 60 "Eat Right, Move More" program. Jets kicker Nick Folk met with sixth through eighth graders and conducted a PLAY 60 program. In addition, he surprised six students with the opportunity to be honored on the field at MetLife Stadium during the New York Jets game versus the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, December 13th. The Jets PLAY 60 "Eat Right, Move More" program, a partnership between the Jets, the Department of Agriculture, and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Inc., encourages New Jersey school children to take advantage of healthy foods in their school cafeterias and become more active. Carlstadt was chosen for its creative efforts to encourage students to eat healthier. Carlstadt Public School will now move on to the next phase of the "Eat Right, Move More" program where they must have at least 100 students participate in the Jets PLAY 60 program. Carlstadt will then be in the running with other schools in New Jersey who apply by January 20, 2016 at www.nyjets.com/play60ermm for kitchen and physical education grants and a Jets player visit, which will be announced in the spring. One "Grand Champion" winning school will be awarded a $15,000 grant and a visit from Folk. Three schools will be awarded "Division Champion" grants of $5,000 and a Jets player visit.
New York Produce Show - Secretary Fisher and Assistant Secretary Murray attended the New York Produce Show in New York City on December 2. Jersey Fresh had a booth, promoting the New Jersey produce industry and the high quality and variety of Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables.
Division of Food and Nutrition Receives Federal Grant -- The Division was recently awarded a USDA Administrative Review and Training (ART) Planning Grant for $75,000. A Project Manager has been assigned to oversee and ensure the objectives of the grant are met. They are currently developing a survey to gather feedback on the needs of school food service as it relates to Professional Standards.
Conservation Poster Contest -- New Jersey's Soil Conservation Districts are now accepting entries in a poster contest designed to raise awareness of natural resources and related issues among young people. The theme for this year's poster is We All Need Trees. Students may compete in the following categories: Grade 2-3; Grade 4-6; Grade 7-9; and Grade 10-12. First place winners in each category will receive $200; second-place $100; and third-place $50. All first-place winners will be entered in the National Association of Conservation Districts poster contest. The competition is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts and the state's 15 Soil Conservation Districts, which work to conserve and manage soil and water resources in the state. For more information and the entry form, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/anr/pdf/conservationpostercontest.pdf.