PILESGROVE, N.J. — New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher visited the A.T. Buzby Farm in Pilesgrove Tuesday to kick off Jersey Tastes! as part of Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week.
Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was designated as the last week of each September by a law signed in 2010 by Gov. Christie. This year’s events mark the seventh annual celebration taking place Sept. 25-29. During this time, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is showcasing schools and a farm that are examples of how connecting local produce and schools increases student consumption of healthy school meals. The visit to the Buzby Farm kicked off Jersey Tastes!, which encourages schools to highlight a different fruit or vegetable every month.
“Each year, excitement about Farm to School has grown around the state with more schools serving New Jersey produce and growing it themselves in school gardens,” Fisher said. “Farms like A.T. Buzby play an active role in making this program such a big success in the state. Schools are benefiting greatly from eating more healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables and learning about our state’s rich agricultural history.”
Andrew and Dawn Buzby established their farm in 1981, with their son, Eric, taking over as the primary owner and operator during the last several years. The farm also is dedicated to producing safe, healthy food in a way that is sustainable environmentally, financially, and socially. Eric’s wife, Martie, updates a blog weekly during the summer to let people know what produce is available.
A.T. Buzby Farm consists of 170 acres and grows a wide range of produce. The farm has contributed to the Jersey Fresh Farm to School program by supplying produce to the Salem County Vocational and Technical High School, been recognized for its support of FFA, and hosted students from the Mannington Township School in Salem County for a sweet corn gleaning event this summer. The students gleaned 1,600 pounds of corn that was donated to a local soup kitchen. The farm also hosted an agriculture day for Salem County middle school students last spring and is scheduled to host another student agriculture day this fall.
“We believe it’s important to play a role in showing what it means to give back to the community and help those in need,” Eric Buzby said. “We are thankful that we have the ability to support our local schools and work with them to help students learn more about agriculture and appreciate the healthy food that farms produce.”
The Buzby Farm visit kicked off the launch of Jersey Tastes! featuring tomatoes grown on the farm. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is asking everyone to post their Jersey Tastes! events each month on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the #jerseytastes hashtag. A complete Jersey Tastes! schedule for the year, including resources on how to implement the program, has been posted on the Farm to School website.
“Jersey Tastes! is a great way for schools and other groups to highlight the variety of fruits and vegetables that are available here in the Garden State,” Secretary Fisher said. “Our Jersey Tastes! resources provide ideas that encourage schools and the children they serve to eat healthy food year-round.”
As part of Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, Secretary Fisher also reminds everyone to visit the Jersey Fresh Farm to School website for resources on how schools can start a Farm to School program, where to source New Jersey produce, and how to plant a school garden.
“Successful Farm to School programs need the support of school administrators, teachers, parents and the community,” said Fisher. “We congratulate all the schools and farmers across the state that are currently involved and encourage those not yet involved to visit our website or call the Department for assistance.”
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture