Gypsy Moth -- The statewide aerial defoliation survey was completed by July 9th and showed a large increase over the levels experienced last year. Gypsy moth caterpillars damaged 2,887 acres in 51 municipalities in 17 counties this year. Department staff will conduct ground surveys in the next few months to identify areas to include in the 2014 spray program.
Jersey Fresh Marketing --The Department has started a new Facebook page focused entirely on Jersey Fresh at www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial. It is an interactive site and we encourage people to share Jersey Fresh recipes, talk about visits to farmers market, farms, wineries, etc. and pass along tips on enjoying Jersey Fresh. The page also may feature profiles of farmers, so please send in any suggestions. The Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Report continues weekly, updating people on the progress of the summer harvest. Jersey Fresh television commercials aired July 15-21 on t.v. stations in New York and Philadelphia.
Summer Food Service Program -- Secretary Fisher, along with Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill, and James Harmon from USDA Food and Nutrition Service on July 10 helped serve lunch to more than 125 children participating in the New Brunswick Youth Services Program PLAY SAFE (Summer Activities For Everyone) program at McKinley School, one of the state’s 100 sponsors of the Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Fisher said most of this year’s sponsors have begun their programs for the year and are available to students in their areas. Currently, there are 1,001 feeding sites around the state. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, yet it is one of the most underutilized federal assistance programs -- only 13.5 percent of the 418,000 children who received free or reduced price lunch in New Jersey last year had access to these healthy meals during their summer vacation. The City of New Brunswick has participated in the SFSP since 1991. It provides meals to children ages 6 to 12 at 10 sites operated by the Youth Service System PLAY SAFE program and an additional 10 sites operated by other community groups.
Seafood Chef Practice -- Secretary Fisher on July 16 taste-tested Golden Tilefish and Green Vegetable Chowder, the dish the state’s top seafood chef Christopher Albrecht will prepare as New Jersey’s entry in the Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans on August 3. Albrecht, the Executive Chef at Eno Terra in Kingston, and his sous chef, John Crawford Koeniger, held a practice run of his entry today at New Jersey Restaurant Association(NJRA) Headquarters in Trenton for Secretary Fisher and a group of restaurant industry experts, who gave Albrecht tips designed to help him at the Great American Seafood Cook Off. Albrecht said he is well-prepared, excited and ready to bring home the trophy.
County Animal Response Team Training -- About 70 members of our state’s County Animal Response Teams and Emergency Management personnel attended the Department’s training on July 17 at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville for hurricane preparedness training. The group also was given Standard Operating Procedures to help improve communication and interaction between counties in emergencies.
CASE Training -- Three New Jersey agricultural education teachers are taking a training this summer to become certified to teach the newest Curriculum in Agriculture Science Education (CASE) course, Natural Resources and Ecology. In all, 15 teachers throughout the state are taking trainings to be able to teach one more course. Courses include, Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Principles of Agricultural Science – Plant, Principles of Agricultural Science – Animal and Animal and Plant Biotechnology. Third-year Allentown High School ag teacher Dale Cruzan was chosen to teach the course in Illinois this summer as a Lead Teacher.
FFA State Officer Video -- The Department prepared a video highlighting the preparation by the New Jersey State FFA Officer Team that goes into presenting the annual state convention, which took place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick May 21-23, 2013. The goal of the video is to inform about the effort and discipline needed to put together such a large endeavor and attract new officer candidates. The video may be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_m64gTDFw.
Advanced Beekeeping Course -- This year State Apiarist Tim Schuler developed a new curriculum for teaching the “Beyond the Basics of Beekeeping” class. The Apiarist taught 25 beekeepers advanced elements of beekeeping. The class was held at Rutgers University where a small apiary is kept. Topics covered included: Thinking like a beekeeper, mite control, feeding, splitting, queen production, diseases, wax working, and selling honey. This class was made more “hands on” than other courses. The class is offered through the Rutgers Office of Continuing Education and is increasingly more in demand by New Jersey beekeepers.
Organic Cost Share Grants -- The Department announced a partnership with the federal government to reduce organic certification costs as part of the Christie Administration’s ongoing efforts to promote New Jersey-grown and marketed organic food products. Through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, each qualified producer of organic products is eligible for a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of its costs of certification not to exceed $750. Certification costs include fees and charges levied by the certifying agent for certification activities. To qualify for reimbursement under this program, an organic producer must have been certified or incurred expenses for the continuation of certification during the period of October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. Certification must be through a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Applications must be received by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture no later than November 19, 2013. Applications and more information about the program are available online at www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/organiccostshare.html.
Boxwood Blight -- Boxwood Blight, a disease of boxwood caused by fungus Cylindrocladium buxicola, has been found in the landscape, as well as, in nursery stock in New Jersey. A case of boxwood blight was reported in a central New Jersey planting. Investigative findings have shown that a southern New Jersey nursery was implicated in the new finding of this disease in the state. Samples from the nursery were collected and further investigation of the plantings continue to try to determine where the source of infection. Growers of boxwood are being contacted, and advised how to manage the disease based on Best Management Practices developed by the Boxwood Blight Working Group and the National Plant Board. Many growers have reached out to their customers to advise them to either treat with appropriate fungicides to protect healthy boxwoods from contracting the disease or to destroy visibly infected plants and clean up and properly dispose of all plant debris in the area.