Contact: Lynne Richmond (609) 292-8896
(KEARNY) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service’s Regional Administrator Yvette Jackson today celebrated National and State Farmers Market week with a visit to the Kearny Farmers Market, one of seven new markets to open in the state this season.
“Farmers Market Week showcases the great service these markets provide to local residents who might not otherwise have access to healthy and delicious Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables grown by our state’s farmers,” said Secretary Kuperus. “In addition, by providing farmers with places to sell their products, farmers markets help keep agriculture strong and growing in New Jersey.”
Kuperus presented market organizers with a proclamation signed by Governor Jon S. Corzine declaring the week of August 6 through 12, 2006 as Community Farmers Market Week in New Jersey. Jackson likewise presented a proclamation from USDA Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns pronouncing the week National Farmers Market Week.
The number of markets in the state has been on the rise over the past few years. About 30 new markets have opened in the past four years, with seven opening this season in Freehold, Kearny, Clifton, Hackensack, Washington Borough, and Newark (2). In total, there are 84 community farmers markets attended by approximately 250 farmers operating in nearly 75 municipalities in New Jersey.
Nationwide, there are more than 3,800 farmers markets – a record number - compared with about 2,800 in the year 2000. According to the USDA, sales generated by farmers markets have been estimated to exceed $1 billion a year, with most of the money going directly to small family farmers. Jackson said the growth demonstrates the popularity of farmers markets as consumers enjoy shopping for products directly from farmers.
“Farmers’ Markets are an important part of any neighborhood, especially in urban settings,” said Jackson. “USDA recognizes that fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital component of a healthy diet. That’s why we offer the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program discounts to qualified seniors, women, infants and children. These programs provide coupons that can be exchanged for locally grown fruits and vegetables. And in New Jersey, consumers get the best: Jersey Fresh.”
The WIC & Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program make locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs available 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 farmer vendors. For more information on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/wic.html.
In New Jersey in 2005, there were 64,250 WIC vouchers and 31,109 senior vouchers redeemed through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. There are currently more than 200 certified farmer vendors in the state, who will benefit from nearly $2 million available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The two farmers at the Kearny Farmers Market are certified farmer vendors in the Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Mayor Alberto G. Santos said when the market opened this season in front of Kearny Town Hall, it immediately drew crowds.
“The market has already proven to be a plus for our business district,” said Santos. "It attracts residents and local employees to the downtown area where they not only shop at the farm stands but also patronize other local businesses. It is also a social center where neighbors meet and stop to chat about the town, the produce or a new recipe. Our market manager also uses the afternoon to distribute information from the health department, recreation department and public works.”
The Kearny market is open on Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m.
For complete information on locations, days and hours of community farmers markets throughout New Jersey, visit www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/searches/urban.htm.
WHEREAS, New Jerseyans wait eagerly for the peak of the state’s agricultural production in July, August, September, and into October; and
WHEREAS, there are community farmers’ markets in the Garden State where consumers can shop throughout the week for the finest, freshest fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers in the state; and
WHEREAS, in the past several years there has been a resurgence of interest in community farmers’ markets resulting in the establishment more than 80 such markets attended by approximately 250 farmers in nearly 75 municipalities in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, community farmers’ markets improve the quality of life for our residents while increasing the economic viability of the regions in which they are established; and
WHEREAS, these community farmers’ markets create a great venue for our farmers to help keep New Jersey green and growing; and
WHEREAS, farmers’ markets offer a convenient, enjoyable way for people to shop for nutritious Jersey Fresh fruits, vegetables and other farm products; and
WHEREAS, farmers’ markets give consumers a chance to learn more about farming in the Garden State and meet the farmers who grow the produce they and their families enjoy; and
WHEREAS, this direct contact with their customers helps farmers keep pace with the ever-changing tastes and preferences of their customers; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jon S. Corzine, Governor of the State of New Jersey, do hereby proclaim
August 6 to August 12, 2006
FARMERS’ MARKET WEEK
in New Jersey, and encourage all citizens to visit farmers’ markets wherever they live or work and reap the benefits of Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables.