New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher celebrated the opening of many NJ farmers markets with a stop in Toms River last Wednesday.
The Toms River Farmers Market has been in operation about seven years.
There are about 150 farmers markets throughout New Jersey many of which participate in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) which provides $20 vouchers to qualifying individuals to use throughout New Jersey’s long growing season. The senior vouchers expire on November 30th of this year. The senior farmers market program is administered through New Jersey’s Department of Health and Senior Services and run out of the various County Offices on Aging. Patterson and Jersey City administer their own programs.
The Food and Nutrition Division of New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture plays a leading role in ensuring New Jersey’s most vulnerable populations are fed and actively promotes healthy eating options throughout the state in coordination with other NJDA programs like Jersey Fresh.
New Jersey is unique in that most of it’s food and nutrition programs are run out of the the Department of Agriculture which provides excellent opportunities for coordination with farm to table programs and potential markets for new farmers, small-scale farms and even for produce, fruits and honey farmed on large estates and properties. Maintenance of these properties is an important part of maintaining New Jersey’s landbase and open spaces.
Close coordination with other New Jersey Department’s like Health and Human Services and the Department of Children and Families enables New Jersey’s Ag department to address feeding and nutrition issues as they emerge and target assistance to vulnerable populations as quickly as possible. It’s the smallest of New Jersey’s state agencies and has quite possibly the widest scope of any agency.
Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for us to remember why New Jersey is nicknamed the Garden State and to realize that fresh food, open spaces and small markets are all interconnected and beneficial for everyone.
Cross posted at Pocket Farms; Keeping Jersey Fresh!”