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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
May 23, 2012
Buy Local Honey -- With a backdrop of the New York City skyline and the new One World Trade Center, Secretary Fisher and Jersey City Mayor Healy took to the roof of the Hyatt Regency Hotel to visit with the hotel’s newest residents -- 36,000 honey bees -- in an effort to promote the purchase of local honey from New Jersey beekeepers, as well as support urban beekeeping. The two bee hives, courtesy of beekeeper Joe Lelinho of Hilltop Honey, North Caldwell, are part of the hotel’s initiative to incorporate local honey into the menus at their on-site restaurant, Vu. Hyatt Jersey City staff reached out to Lelinho several months ago following a discussion about their desire to serve local honey in Vu. The Hyatt’s partnership with Hilltop Honey is an extension of Hyatt’s corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive, which strives to make their communities places where their workers are proud to work, their guests want to visit and their neighbors want to live. Lelinho placed two hives with 36,000 honey bees on the roof of the hotel on April 5. By the end of the season, the bee population should swell to between 50 and 70,000. Each hive is expected to produce about 100 pounds of honey this first year.
Winter Death Loss Survey -- The annual winter death loss survey, conducted through the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, showed that beekeepers who did not treat their colonies to reduce the Varroa mite load experienced a 44 percent death loss (down from last year’s 65 percent). Those who treated their colonies to control Varroa lost 20 percent (up from 18 percent). A total of 426 beekeepers participated in this year’s survey reporting on over 5,473 colonies, which is about double the amount of participation from the previous survey.
Community Farmers Markets – The Jersey Fresh website has been updated to reflect the 2012 community farmers markets throughout the state and the number of markets has increased from 148 last year to 154 this year. These markets serve as venues for NJ farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers, many times in areas without access to fresh produce. Many of the farmers participating also accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks. Visit www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov to find a nearby market.
Top FNS Official Visits Camden Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program -- The nation’s top official for school nutrition programs, Audrey Rowe, and Secretary Fisher joined 16 first-graders at John G. Whittier Elementary School in Camden in tasting red grapes as part of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) on May 2. Rowe is the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service Administrator. Her agency oversees the FFVP, which is operated in New Jersey by the Department of Agriculture. This school year, Whittier and eight other Camden City schools are among 143 schools throughout the state that are participating in the program, which provides students with fresh produce during the school day. Over the course of the year, students at Whittier have sampled produce such as persimmons, Brussels sprouts and Asian pears. Food and Nutrition Service provides children and needy families with better access to food and a more healthful diet through its 15 nutrition assistance programs and nutrition education efforts. One of those programs is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which is federally funded but operated in New Jersey by the state Department of Agriculture The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program exposes school children to healthy foods and increases their fruit and vegetable consumption, ultimately leading to improved lifelong dietary habits.
Jets Eat Right, Move More – The Division of Food and Nutrition has wrapped up another year of the Eat Right, Move More program, a partnership with the NY Jets and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign. This spring, Department representatives and Jets players held programs at Mercer High School in Hamilton Township, Linden High School in Linden, Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood and Thomas A. Edison Central Six Middle School in West Orange, driving home the importance of good nutrition and exercise. This is the sixth school year of the program and the Jets have indicated they would like to continue the program next school year.
Animal Emergency Response Study – A County Animal Response Team (CART) Development Working Group on May 4 took the first steps toward a study to evaluate the readiness levels of the CARTs and create a template for developing a CART in NJ. The group, using a federal homeland security grant, hired a company to conduct the study to help standardize procedures and forms to better equip CARTs to assist those in other counties, allow for regionalization and increase the state’s capabilities in terms of animal emergency response. The company also will draft suggested wording to modify the law providing for CARTs to reflect those changes. The project is expected to be completed by July 31, 2012.
NJ Envirothon -- For the third year in a row, students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES) in Manahawkin were the winners of the New Jersey Envirothon, held May 5 at Girl Scout Camp Sacajawea in Farmingdale. The team will represent New Jersey in the 2012 Canon Envirothon at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA in July. These same students made up the winning Envirothon team last year. They competed against 32 other teams on knowledge of natural resources-related topics, including soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife ecology and a current environmental issue. This year’s Envirothon theme was “Nonpoint Source Pollution/Low Impact Development.” Each of the MATES team members received $1,000 scholarships from the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts. The MATES team was the first team ever to receive a perfect score on one of the Envirothon tests; they scored 100 for aquatics. MATES also had a second team at the competition, which came in second place overall.
Conservation Awards Ceremony – Winners of the Conservation Poster Contest and the first and second place NJ Envirothon teams came to Trenton on May 17 to be honored at an awards ceremony. Secretary Fisher and State Conservationist Don Pettit were on hand to congratulate the students. This year’s poster theme was “Soil to Spoon.” The first place winners in each grade category will be entered in the Nationals Conservation Poster contest.
Aquatic Animal Vaccine Production Facility – The Department joined the Business Action Center in the Secretary of State’s office to hear a proposal from an Israeli company seeking to establish an aquatic animal vaccine production facility in the state. A site visit to the NJPHEAL was organized for staff from Choose NJ and owners and investors of the Israeli company to meet the State Veterinarian and explore ways to collaborate if they decide to locate in New Jersey.
11th Annual FFA Golf Benefit – Hosted by New Jersey FFA Alumni the Golf Benefit will be held June 19, 2012 at Mercer Oaks Golf Course in West Windsor. All proceeds will support FFA leadership and scholarship opportunities for FFA members.