July 2, 2012 - Agriculture, Main Street NJ Partnership Helps West Orange Farmers Market Flourish
AGRICULTURE, MAIN STREET NJ PARTNERSHIP HELPS
Many Benefits of Market Touted by Officials During Opening Day Visit
(WEST ORANGE) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and Jef Buehler of the Department of Community Affairs’ Main Street New Jersey program today visited the West Orange Farmers Market to highlight the opening of most farmers markets in the state for Fourth of July week and the many benefits they bring to their host communities, its citizens and the farmers who sell at the markets.
Secretary Fisher commended Main Street New Jersey for helping to develop the farmers market in West Orange and many other towns that have gone through their program.
“These markets give our state’s farmers a place to sell their just-picked fruits and vegetables directly to consumers, who have an opportunity to access this fresh produce through assistance programs for purchasing New Jersey agricultural products,” said Secretary Fisher. “It is a great time to visit a farmers market now because many of our summertime crops have arrived early this year, so look for all your favorites such as Jersey Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, peaches and blueberries.”
New Jersey has 148 farmers markets, with 10 new markets opening this season. Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) has assisted in the development of markets in 67 percent of its program communities.
The West Orange Farmers Market is one such market and is run by the Downtown West Orange Alliance. It is open every Friday from 12 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot behind Town Hall at 66 Main Street and features two farmers and various vendors. A designated MSNJ community since 2004, the Downtown West Orange Alliance, Inc. is the non-profit organization that manages the town's Special Improvement District (SID) encouraging economic revitalization of the neighborhoods known as Tory Corner, Eagle Rock, St. Mark's and the Valley.
“Farmer’s Markets are an important magnet for bringing people back into the downtown as well as providing affordable healthy produce to the community,” said Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constable III.
“In several cases downtown farmer’s markets have also served as a micro business incubator with new entrepreneurs trying out products during a season and later being assisted by the local Main Street organization to find a downtown space to open a restaurant, food production facility or retail shop,” said Buehler, State Director, Office of Main Street New Jersey & Improvement District Programs.
Special events and farmer’s markets are only part of the comprehensive revitalization program undertaken by communities operating as a designated or selected Main Street New Jersey Community with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Main Street organizations seek to return their historic downtown to the community gathering space they once were while restoring and promoting historic assets and recruiting and retaining businesses within the downtown district.
Last year alone MSNJ’s 25 designated communities held 136 special events bringing close to 200,000 visitors to downtown and generating 19 million positive media impressions about their Main Street district. Additionally, net job growth in MSNJ designated communities topped 588 jobs with a net business growth of 155 new businesses in 2011. For more information, go to www.mainstreetnewjersey.com.
Assistance for purchasing produce at farmers markets is available at many markets throughout the state. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides vouchers for the purchase of locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program administered by the State Department of Health and Senior Services allots $20 in checks to qualifying individuals, which are valid through November 30. In addition, some farmers at select markets, including West Orange, accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit transfer cards to pay for produce.
For complete information on locations, days and hours of community farmers markets throughout New Jersey, visit www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/searches/urban.htm.
To access a list of transportation options to each of the farmers markets, visit www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/transportationoptionsNJFarmersMarkets.pdf.
For more information on the WIC and Senior FMNP, visit: www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/wic.html.