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Photo of Michele Sheppard, Assemblyman Fisher and Secretary Kuperus - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: June 7, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – From organic wholesale produce to conventional wholesale fruits and vegetables to a dynamic country farm market, New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today found that the diverse family farms of Cumberland County, through progressive practices and hard-work, are helping to sustain the agriculture.

“New Jersey agriculture has deep roots in the soil of Cumberland County and all of south Jersey with innovative family farms that have been working the land for generations,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “We also are encouraged to see first generation farmers starting a farming tradition with their own families, building on a practice of welcoming new people to our state’s diverse agriculture.”

To start the tour, Secretary Kuperus, along with Assemblyman Douglas Fisher, Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, visited an organic vegetable farm in Newport owned by a long-time Cumberland County farming family, the Sheppards.

“New Jersey agriculture is a strong and diverse industry and I take pleasure in being able to join Secretary Kuperus in touring local farms as they begin their growing season,” said Assemblyman Fisher.

Secretary Kuperus' other three stops of the day -- Andy's Countryside Farm Market, Dave Monteleone Farms, and Ploch Farms -- were in the 1st Legislative District. 

“It is good to see that our Secretary of Agriculture understands the importance of farming in Cumberland County,” said Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew.  “Farming is not an afterthought or sideline in this county. It represents a way of life and an economy that is essential to maintain.”

During the tour, the Secretary made four stops:

Sheppard Farms – a 40-acre organic farm in Newport.  The Sheppard family has been farming in Cumberland County since 1888.  Their conventional farm consists of 1,400 acres.  They are in the second year of production on their organic farm.  The three Sheppard brothers, Tom, David and Erwin, own the trademark, “The Jersey Tomato,” which they market both conventionally and organically to chain stores.  Other organic crops include: sweet peppers, squash, and cucumbers.

Photo of Secretary Kuperus and Andy KraynockAndy’s Countryside Farm Market – a 62-acre farm with a farm market and greenhouses in Millville.  Andy Kraynock is a first generation farmer who became a farmer in 1969 and has been at the Millville location since 1986. He grows greenhouse tomatoes, and sweet corn, melons, sweet peppers, squash, cucumbers and pickles in the field.  He also grows bedding plants.  He uses no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides and uses only compost and organic fertilizer.  He direct-markets at his own farm market and at the Ocean City Farmers Market, and markets in Medford and Wilmington, Delaware.  Kraynock’s son also is a farmer, growing herbs and peppers in Buena, Atlantic County.

Dave Monteleone Farms – a Photo of Dave and Elaine Monteleone on their farm 35-acre farm in Vineland, specializing in herbs such as parsley, dill and cilantro.  Monteleone began farming in 1980 and has owned his own farm since 1984.  He also grows tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, squash, watermelons and cantaloupe, which he sells wholesale and at the Atlantic City Farmers Market.

Ploch Farms
– a 280-acre Photo of John and Ryan Ploch with Secretary Kuperus wholesale produce farm in Vineland, specializing in culinary herbs and greens.  The Ploch family began farming in Clifton in 1915 and has farmed in Vineland since 1973.  The farm is owned by John Ploch with help from his son, Ryan, who was named the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer of 2003.  The Plochs are wholesale growers of 46 different varieties of herbs and vegetables.

New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable industry is the second largest agriculture sector with $262.7 million in revenue in 2005.  The Garden State ranks second in the nation in blueberry production with 7,600 acres harvested and a value of $83.7 million; fourth in the nation in head lettuce production with 400 acres harvested and a production value of $700,000; fifth in the nation for bell peppers with 3,300 acres and a value of $27.8 million; sixth in the nation for cucumbers with 3,300 acres and a value of $13.4 million; tenth in the nation for squash with 2,600 acres and a value of $7.6 million; and, eleventh in the nation for tomatoes with 2,900 acres and a value of $19.6 million.

To promote its produce, the Department is in its second year of a new Jersey Fresh advertising campaign – “Jersey Fresh – As Fresh As Fresh Gets.”  The campaign includes radio and cable television spots, print advertisements and signage on buses.

“The Jersey Fresh campaign connects growers to consumers, setting our state’s produce apart in the marketplace,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “When people buy produce grown by local farmers, they help strengthen and sustain the entire agricultural industry in New Jersey.”