Farm to School Bill Signing – Secretary Fisher, Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario and various NJDA staff were on hand August 25 when Acting Governor Kim Guadagno signed five bills into law supporting the Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School program at Terhune Orchards in Princeton,. The package of unanimously passed bills supporting the “Farm to School” program raise awareness of the program, create potential revenue streams for continued development and create a clearinghouse web portal to allow farmers to better connect with schools and food banks. The Farm to School program connects school nutrition with local farms, improving the quality of school meals and strengthening relationships in the community. The program also helps children understand where their food comes from through the integration of food-related education into the curriculum and hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits and culinary classes.
Community Food Pantry Fund – The Department distributed checks in August from the Community Food Pantry Fund, collected through donations submitted to the state through a state income tax form check-off, to the six food banks. The check-off, designed to raise funds to pay for food purchases, was first available on the 2010 tax year forms. A total of $27,895.94 was distributed from the funds collected during the 2012 and 2013 tax years.
Emerald Ash Borer – New Jersey Department of Agriculture officials in August confirmed that the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, has been found in Burlington County. The beetle was found in a trap in Westampton that was part of an annual Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection survey to detect EAB. An infestation of emerald ash borer was discovered by a private citizen in Bridgewater, Somerset County, in May, the state’s first sign of the destructive pest. Emerald ash borer had already been detected in Pennsylvania and New York counties bordering New Jersey. EAB is now present in 23 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of trees. The state will now survey trees in the area where EAB was found in Burlington County to determine the extent of the EAB infestation. It is expected that a federal quarantine will be expanded to include New Jersey.
Invasive Pest Display – Secretary Fisher unveiled a new exhibit at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange on August 22 designed to educate the public about invasive pests threatening trees in New Jersey. The display, located on the zoo’s Pollinator Pathway, an educational walkway around the Orange Reservoir, 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. The concept and design for the display came from Paul Kurtz, Department entomologist and Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Program Manager. He worked with the Turtle Back Zoo, as well as the Cape May County Zoo in Cape May Court House and World of Wings in Teaneck to locate the displays at the facilities to reach a greater number of people.
Animal Health Laboratory – The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory was again involved in assisting in the investigation of an animal death that was in the news. The AHDL performed the necropsy on a dog that was sealed in a pet carrier that had been connected with a hose to a car’s exhaust. The dog’s owner was arrested last week four months after the alleged incident.
Farmers Market Week – Secretary Fisher and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials on August 6 marked Farmers Market Week with a visit to the Bordentown City Farmers Market in Bordentown City. Governor Chris Christie proclaimed August 3 through 9, 2014 as Farmers Market Week in New Jersey to remind consumers to visit these markets this summer and fall. Secretary Fisher was joined at the market by James Harmon, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, Director of Special Nutrition Programs, Paul Hlubik, State Director of USDA Farm Service Agency, and other state, county and local officials. There are 148 community farmers markets in the state, eight of which are new this season. Farmers who attend these markets sell produce they’ve picked at the peak of ripeness within 24 hours of sale to ensure the best taste and highest quality. Many of the farmers accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers and SNAP food stamp cards. Bordentown City Farmers Market is open Wednesdays 3 p.m. to dusk through September 24.
Just Peachy Salsa Visit with Lt. Governor – Secretary Fisher joined Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno on August 5 at Campbell’s Soup in Camden where they, along with Campbell’s employees and volunteers labeled and boxed “Just Peachy” Salsa to benefit the Foodbank of South Jersey. The project is a joint effort between New Jersey peach farmers, Campbell’s and the foodbank to make a product using peaches that might have otherwise been thrown away and turning it into a product that is being sold to raise funds for the foodbank.
Peach Dinner -- Secretary Fisher visited blueplate Restaurant in Mullica Hill on August 6 and was served a delicious three-course meal celebrating the Jersey Fresh peach harvest, one of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council’s Peach Month events. Peaches used in chef Jim Malaby’s dishes came from nearby Holtzhauser Farms in Mullica Hill. Menu choices included white peach gazpacho, baked peach and cheese curd, rosemary scented fried Saturn donut peach, smoked and shaved pork belly with grilled peaches, brown sugar and peach brined chicken, peach cider braised beef short rib, hot smoked salmon with coriander seed marinated citrus peaches, and, for dessert, White chocolate-white peach croissant pudding or Holtzhauser Farms’ mixed peach cobbler.
CASE Institute – Secretary Fisher on August 1 visited Woodstown High School in Salem County where 12 agriculture teachers from seven states including four from New Jersey attended an 80-hour training course preparing them to teach a new rigorous, academic course on food science and safety in the fall. The Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) Institute was hosted by Rutgers University, Woodstown High School and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture from July 27 through August 7. The participants became certified to field test the “Food Science and Safety” course and were provided the curriculum and practical experience to teach the course upon completion of the nine-day session. The teachers must report back to CASE on the course; any necessary adjustments will be made and then the course will be offered to all agriculture teachers. Secretary Fisher observed while the educators in attendance performed an experiment, similar to what they will teach during the school year.
Agricultural Fair Visits – Secretary Fisher attended four county fairs in August. He spoke at the openings of the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show on August 1, Middlesex County Fair on August 4, and Salem County Fair on August 5, and toured the Somerset County 4-H Fair on August 7. This year’s fair season enjoyed mostly beautiful weather.
Dubinin Scholarship -- The New Jersey Equine Advisory Board is offering a $1,000 scholarship to help 4-H and FFA members pursue their equine activities. Members of organizations represented on the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board also are eligible. Applicants must be New Jersey residents between the ages of 13 and 16. The Sara Dubinin Scholarship, in memory of Sara Dubinin who loved horses, will be presented at the New Jersey Bred Equine Breeder Awards Luncheon on January 25, 2015 at Charley’s Other Brother Restaurant in Eastampton. Sara, a Sayreville resident, graduated from Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy in 2006. The 19-year-old was attending Middlesex County College when she succumbed to injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident in September of 2007. Those interested in receiving the scholarship must submit an application form including an essay on, “How horses have affected my life and how horses figure into my future.” The application can be found at www.jerseyequine.nj.gov/dubininapplicationform.pdf. Consideration of applications will be weighted upon the candidate’s financial need. The deadline to submit the essay is January 2, 2015. It can be submitted to Lynn Mathews, 609-292-2888 or email@example.com.