IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
October 29, 2018
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785
(MANSFIELD) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture today visited Fernbrook Farms Environmental Education Center in Burlington County during National Farm to School Month to highlight the facility’s year-round programs that teach students from the age of 3 up through high school age about various aspects of agriculture. The 230-acre preserved farm features school field trips as well as a summer camp and camps during the fall, winter and spring breaks.
NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher and NJDA Farm to School staff joined about 80 students from the Burlington County Institute of a Technology at Fernbrook today.
“Fernbrook Farms has a year-round commitment to teaching students about the numerous facets of agriculture,” Secretary Fisher said. “They do a tremendous job of providing opportunities for youths to have hands-on experiences so they can better understand the impact agriculture has on in their everyday lives.”
The visit to today featured educational sessions of 40 minutes each at four stations for the students. They included a lesson about Fernbrook Farms’ vegetable production, which supplies a CSA that has about 500 members; learning about various animals on the farm, such as sheep, goats, chickens and ducks and cows; along with stops at the farm’s meadow and pond.
“Educating students through hands on activities in our farm’s varied ecosystems is at the foundation of what we do,” said Brian Kuser, the Education Director at Fernbrook Farm Environmental Education Center. “Even on a one day visit, it’s great to see the transformation of students who have never been on a farm before. We want it to be a positive experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
The education center engages several thousand children each year, including having an after-school program from 3:30 to 6 p.m. each day during the school year. Fernbrook Farms features a wholesale nursery that sells a large variety of native ornamentals, conifers, shade, container, and flowering plants, trees and shrubs.
Fernbrook Farms has been in the Kuser family since it was purchased in 1899. The 230 acres of the farm were permanently preserved in 1996 under the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Act. Larry and Susie Kuser are the farm owners and have played a key role in the Farm to School program in New Jersey, hosting the first meeting in 2008.
During the 2017-18 school year, the influence of the Farm to School Program led to 255 schools purchasing some local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts buying local produce directly from farms, 212 districts using a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts organizing field trips to farms.
Farm to School programs provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to help students learn about local agriculture, how food grows and what it means to eat healthy with fresh fruits and vegetables.
To learn more, visit www.farmtoschool.nj.gov.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA and @JerseyFreshNJDA.