Home > News > Press Releases > 2014 > CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES JERSEY FRESH FARM TO SCHOOL WEEK IN HUNTERDON COUNTY
CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES JERSEY FRESH FARM TO SCHOOL WEEK IN HUNTERDON COUNTY
Plant Science Students Grow Produce Vertically
For Immediate Release: October 2, 2014
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(WEST AMWELL) – The Department of Agriculture celebrated the fourth annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week on September 26 by visiting the agricultural science plant science class at South Hunterdon Regional High School in West Amwell and learning about their innovations with vertical produce growing.
The Department of Agriculture’s Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, taking place September 22 to 26, highlights efforts to connect schools with New Jersey farmers to purchase local produce for school meals. It also seeks to teach children where their food comes from by growing it themselves in school gardens.
“Farm to School Week is a great time for schools to celebrate New Jersey’s abundance of fresh produce grown so close to where we live and to teach children the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables,” said Secretary Fisher. “We applaud the schools that have connected with our farmers and regularly serve local produce to their students.”
South Hunterdon Regional High School Agricultural Science Instructor Tiffany Morey said they are using a vertical planting wall provided by the New Jersey Farm to School Network. Students in her Plant Science class plant, water, feed, maintain and harvest the wall for the school year. They are currently growing basil, parsley, several varieties of lettuce, spinach, cabbage and Asian greens. The produce is used by the cafeteria staff and culinary arts classes.
“We have a great culinary arts program in our school and supportive cafeteria staff who utilize fresh produce in their dishes, so the wall seemed like it would be a good fit for our school,” said Morey. “The agricultural science students were able to grow fresh greens that were turned into salads served during school lunches in the cafeteria and into more complex dishes by the culinary arts program.”
More said the wall is a great way to illustrate the farm to table concept within her school and provide students with fresh, nutritious and locally grown produce throughout the year.
NJ State FFA National Officer Candidate Lauren Fillebrown learns more about the Mobile Edible Wall from a South Hunterdon FFA member during the presentation
Beth Feehan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Farm to School Network, said she first saw an “edible wall” like the South Hunterdon agriculture students are using at a conference and felt it would be beneficial in the Farm to School program.
“These Mobile Edible Walls work as indoor school gardens, allowing students in all different settings to see how plants grow, to experience the successes and failures of growing food and to have hands-on experience right in their classrooms.”
There has been much focus on Farm to School recently. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno last month signed a package of bills that support New Jersey’s Farm to School program by increasing student access to healthy, locally grown foods.
For the first time, the Department of Agriculture will provide additional funds this school year to schools for connecting their Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program with the Farm to School Program. The schools must provide Jersey Fresh produce a minimum of two days each month from September to November and from April to June and must verify where the produce was grown. Eighty percent of the 158 schools are participating. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is federally-funded and administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to provide healthier food choices; expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience; and increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.
The Department also initiated a program this year to recognize schools and farmers who work together to ensure students have access to healthy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias. The Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition Program helps schools expand their farm to school efforts, highlight Jersey Fresh produce in their meals and educate students about good nutrition and the state’s agriculture industry. The program is a new marketing opportunity for farmers to strengthen the relationship between their farm and the community. Schools in the recognition program are required to have programs during Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week. The applications for the recognition program can be found online at: http://bit.ly/1erIfPb.
By law, Farm to School Week takes place each year the last week in September. For more information about the Farm to School Program, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/childadult/farm_to_school.html.