Avian Influenza -- The Department organized a meeting, held at the Public Health Environmental and Agriculture Laboratory Building on June 16, which updated stakeholders on the NJDA Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Emergency Plan.
CART Trainings – The Department has facilitated 114 hours of training for County Animal Response Teams since March, utilizing NJ Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness funds. Most recently, disaster sheltering training was held in Atlantic County June 13-14 and large animal rescue training was held June 19-21.
NSLP Equipment Assistance Grants -- Seventy schools in 28 school districts around New Jersey will receive grants to purchase, renovate or replace equipment to enhance delivery of the National School Lunch Program in the state. The Department administered the United States Department of Agriculture Fiscal Year 2014 National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Equipment Assistance Grant, which allocated $711,388 to the schools. Applications were evaluated based on equipment that will make a meaningful impact on nutrition and quality of meals; equipment that focuses on breakfast expansion to implement alternative breakfast service methods; improvement of the safety of food served; and overall need. In addition, the applications were competitive and more than 50 percent of the students in the school had to be eligible for free or reduced-price meals and the school could not have received a prior year’s equipment grant. Equipment slated to be purchased with the grants include refrigerators, freezers, hot and cold holding cabinets, convection ovens, ranges, tilting skillets and walk-in refrigerators and/or freezers. For a list of the 2014 grant recipients, visit http://bit.ly/1MlPn0J. USDA also has allocated an additional $508,839 to New Jersey to award to schools under the 2015 National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant. The new grant application can be found here www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/childadult/school.html#4.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grants – The Department has awarded 151 New Jersey schools grants to participate in the 2015-2016 school year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). The United States Department of Agriculture has allocated $4,172,474 for New Jersey for next school year’s program to provide fresh produce to more than 76,400 students in 14 counties during the school day. The students also will receive nutrition education. The goal of the program is to expose children to healthy foods, increase their fruit and vegetable consumption and set them on the road to improved lifelong dietary habits. The Department of Agriculture will provide additional funds to schools for connecting their FFVP 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. Seventy percent of the 151 schools have agreed to participate. Click here for the schools that will participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the 2015-2016 school year.
Farmers Markets Opening -- Secretary Fisher highlighted the opening of community farmers markets around the state by attending the grand opening ceremony for the Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market in Trenton on June 15. New Jersey has about 150 community farmers markets this season. These markets operate one or two days a week, and feature New Jersey farmers selling their just-picked produce. Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market will operate Mondays 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will feature Norz Hill Farm of Hillsborough. Other items available at the market include meat, bread, baked goods and honey. The Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market is operated through a partnership between the Trenton YMCA, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids and the Trenton Healthy Food Network. For complete information on locations, days and hours of community farmers markets throughout New Jersey, visit http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/community.html.
Promoting New Jersey’s Strawberry Crop -- Secretary Douglas today visited Donaldson Farms in Mansfield Township to kick off the strawberry picking season in North Jersey. The strawberry harvest began in South Jersey two weeks ago. Plump, juicy and delicious Jersey Fresh strawberries are available now at community farmers markets, local farm markets and pick-your-own farms in the state. Harvesting of the popular spring crop began in mid-May and should continue through mid-June. Donaldson Farms grows seven acres of Chandlers, Darselect and Cabot varieties. They typically sell from 130,000 to 190,000 pounds of strawberries each year. Donaldson’s berries are available for pick-your-own or at their farm market. The family has been farming in the Hackettstown area of Warren County since 1906.
June Month of the Horse – Secretary Fisher and New Jersey Equestrian of the Year Kirsten Jeansson kicked off June as the Month of the Horse in New Jersey on June 3 with a visit to Hidden Acres 4-D Farm in Burlington County, a thoroughbred breeding facility. New Jersey is home to thousands of pleasure horses, show horses and race horses. To honor the state’s equine industry, Governor Chris Christie has proclaimed June the Month of the Horse in New Jersey. At Hidden Acres 4-D Farm in Chesterfield and North Hanover, Secretary Fisher and Jeansson were given a tour and met the current mare, foal and yearlings in residence. The Wilkinson family has been involved in Thoroughbred horse breeding since 1979. The 222-acre preserved farm is now operated by Todd and Jennifer Wilkinson. They also have pleasure horses and a hay operation for feed.
Forest Pest Display -- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture unveiled a new exhibit at Cape May County Zoo in Cape May Court House on June 10 designed to educate the public about invasive pests threatening trees in New Jersey. The Department is currently monitoring an infestation of emerald ash borer which made its appearance in the state last year. The invasive beetles have attacked and killed tens of millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada since 2002. The display has giant pictures of an emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle, with cutouts for children to put their faces into the scene. Along with the fun activity, there are signs explaining the threat the insects pose to state trees and how to contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in case people spot the bugs. There are similar displays at the World of Wings in Teaneck and Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange to locate displays at the facilities to reach a greater number of people. Each exhibit cost $3,000, with funding coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Program.
Play 60 Eat Right, Move More – The Department and the NY Jets concluded the 2014-15 season of the Department’s Jets Play 60 Eat Right, Move More Program on May 29 when Secretary Fisher and New York Jets kicker Nick Folk honored Adamsville Primary School in Bridgewater as one of this year’s first-prize winners in the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Jets PLAY 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program. Secretary Fisher and Nick Folk held a special program for the students and presented the school 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 Jets PLAY 60 “Eat Right, Move More” program, a collaboration between the Jets, NJDA, RWJF 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.
Honeybees -- The Rutgers 3-day Beginning Beekeeper Course taught by the State Apiarist continues to experience a huge interest with residents of the state. The second class of 2015 was held in May and 60 new beekeepers attended. Since 2006, 3000-3500 people have taken this class. A total of 430 beekeepers participated in the winter death loss survey this year. The overall death loss reported by beekeepers was 35 percent out of 2,097 colonies. Beekeepers that treated their colonies for Varroa mite lost 32 percent of their colonies, while those who did not lost 50 percent. The survey showed that beekeepers that used the new Apivar strip for mite control experienced the lowest over winter death loss at 24 percent and those that treated early in July or August lost about 31 percent of their colonies.