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For Immediate Release: August 18, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(BAYONNE) – Miles from the nearest farm, residents of Bayonne this summer have been able to buy freshly picked Jersey Fresh produce, not from a farmer, but from Bayonne High School students.

Joined by state Senator and Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today was one of the patrons of the Bayonne Youth Farmstand Project outside Bayonne City Hall. Eleven students have been selling locally grown fruits and vegetables there every Tuesday through Thursday, as well as at satellite locations near senior citizen housing around the city.

“These teenagers are accomplishing more than simply selling produce – they are learning about agriculture and gaining business skills, they are supporting local farmers, and they are giving city residents access to delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables,” said Secretary Kuperus.

The Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension (RCRE) Youth Farmstand Program is designed to “support local farmers, increase workforce readiness skills and life skills in at-risk youth, and build healthier, stronger communities.” RCRE partnered with the Bayonne Board of Education to bring about the Bayonne project, providing students with the training necessary to operate farm stands. The workers are a mix of regular and special education students.

“We’re happy to have Secretary Kuperus visit our successful youth farm stand project, which has been an excellent learning experience for the students as well as a benefit to our citizens, especially the seniors,” said Doria. “Our residents love the Jersey Fresh products they are able to purchase at the conveniently located stands.”

From Left to Right: Tom Fogu, School Superintendent Patricia McGeehan, Carol Van Baron,
Mayor Doria, Secretary Kuperus, Mary Beth Doria

The stands participate in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) & Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which makes available locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to nutritionally at-risk pregnant, breast-feeding, or post-partum women; children two to five years old; and eligible seniors age 60 and older. Eligible participants receive four $5 vouchers valid through November 30 to purchase locally grown produce from certified vendors.

After the third week in operation, the Bayonne students surpassed the profits from 2003, the last year they participated in the project. As of August 16, the students had collected 313 WIC and 626 senior vouchers, totaling about $4,700. They had sold 490 bulk items – either crates, cases, or bushels – of fruits and vegetables.

Statewide in 2004, 72 at-risk/special needs youth participated in the RCRE Youth Farmstand Program. More than 1,000 cases of produce were purchased from local farmers. Almost $2,600 in profits were distributed among the participants, based upon stand sales and hours worked. More than 3,500 customers in economically disadvantaged areas purchased $15,780 in Jersey Fresh produce. Sites reported up to 80 percent of their customers were low income and/or elderly. More than 33 percent of those who redeemed WIC or Senior Farmers Market vouchers indicated they had no other accessible outlet for voucher redemption.

The Bayonne farmstand project ends August 18, and begins again at City Hall only Friday afternoons starting August 23. It will continue to operate through October 18.