New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher officially kicked off Farmers Market Week in New Jersey at the Seaside Park Farmers Market by calling on Garden State residents and visitors to stop in at a community farmers market and buy Jersey fresh agricultural products.
“Farmers markets bring the farm to a community’s doorstep, giving people access to just-picked, high quality, nutritious produce grown by our state’s farmers,” said Secretary Fisher. “From local residents to visitors vacationing at the shore, the Seaside Park Farmers Market provides a fun day out, shopping for Jersey fresh produce, locally grown plants, and a variety of other specialty items.”
The Seaside Park Farmers Market, located in Marina Field, has five farmers and 14 other vendors. The market, which operates on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., first opened in 2007.
“We opened the market to introduce Seaside Park to Jersey fresh produce and to be able to buy from local farmers and vendors,” said Robert Martucci, Seaside Park Business Administrator. “It brings a good feeling to see residents and visitors come out and support our local farmers and vendors.”
There are 147 community farmers markets in the state, 12 of which are new this year. 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. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs administered by the State Department of Health and Senior Services allot $20 in checks to qualifying individuals, which are valid through November 30. In addition, those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may use their electronic benefits cards to buy produce at farmers markets in 11 counties. Both programs are accepted at the Seaside Park Farmers Market.
“Right here in New Jersey, USDA provides almost $2.5 million statewide for these wonderful programs that offer WIC moms and their children and seniors the opportunity to use their nutrition assistance benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at markets like this one,” said Patricia Dombroski, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “Plus, these programs also benefit local farmers by bringing additional customers to the markets.”
Secretary Fisher presented the market with a proclamation from Governor Chris Christie designating the week of August 7 to 13 as Farmers Market Week in the state to encourage all citizens to visit farmers markets wherever they live or work and reap the benefits of Jersey fresh fruits and vegetables. Likewise, Dombroski presented a proclamation for National Farmers Market Week. Many state, county and local officials were on hand for the ceremony, including Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry Little.
“Ocean County is very proud of the many farms we have and the many acres of farmland that have been preserved under the Farmland Preservation Program in Ocean County,” said Freeholder Little. “The farmers’ markets allow us to highlight the pride we take in our farms here in Ocean County and across the state of New Jersey. Jersey fresh isn’t just a slogan; it’s a way of life for many of us.
“In Ocean County, there are 10 community farmers’ markets, from Point Pleasant Beach to the north to Toms River across the bridge to our southern communities like Barnegat and Stafford townships. These markets provide Jersey fresh produce and vegetables to our residents and visitors while giving local farmers and Ocean County a forum to let people know how important local farmers are to our county and our state,” he said.
Eating Jersey fresh fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products can go a long way to improving overall health. Eating locally also is a good choice for protecting our environment by reducing the miles a meal travels between farm and fork, lessening fuel consumption. In addition, choosing locally grown products helps keep New Jersey farmers on their land, preserving the Garden State’s quality of life.
Jersey fresh produce is at the peak of the season with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, squash, peppers, eggplant, squash, basil, melons, beets, cabbage, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, kale, leeks, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, turnips and white potatoes.
To locate a nearby community farmers market, visit www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.
To learn more about farmers market nutrition programs, visit http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/communityfarmers.html#1.