TRENTON – State officials, including New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Alfred W. Murray, toured community farmers markets in Essex, Hudson and Union counties on Tuesday, June 28 and officially declared Jersey Fresh season in full swing.
“All of New Jersey’s 144 community farmers markets, featuring the freshest, best-tasting produce grown by our state’s farmers, are open for business as of the Fourth of July weekend and many will be operating through to the end of October,” said Murray. “Farmers are reporting excellent quality crops this season, so everyone should visit a nearby farmers market, meet the people who grow our food, and help support our agriculture industry.”
Murray visited the University Hospital Auxiliary’s Farmers’ Market in Newark and the Elizabeth and Hoboken Farmers Markets. Certified farmers at these and many other markets throughout the state accept Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) 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.
“The WIC Farmers’ and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides our state’s most vulnerable residents with access to locally grown, nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan. “We know that once people discover the health benefits of these farmers markets, they become regular customers.”
Murray stopped at the Elizabeth Farmers Market, which has one farmer and several vendors selling baked goods, nuts and gourmet foods. Market Manager David Strochak said the market, operated by the Elizabeth Avenue Partnership, was started to give residents, senior citizens, moms and children a chance to eat healthy and also attract shoppers to the area.
“We’ve been proud to preserve home-grown Jersey produce for a ninth year,” said Strochak. “The market is a neat one-stop experience where people can get Jersey Fresh produce, just picked earlier that day, and maybe shop at nearby stores.”
The farmers market runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays in Union Square and will continue through Nov. 29.
Jersey Fresh produce is reaching the peak of the season with many fruits and vegetables available. Jersey Fresh items currently available include: blueberries, baby spinach, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, basil, beets, cabbage, collards, swiss chard, arugula, kale, leeks, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, lettuces, dandelions, and turnips.
To locate a community farmers market near you, visit www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/searches/urban.htm. For more information on the WIC and Senior FMNP, visit: www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/wic.html.
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