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Top Story, Sept. 15, 2014


Fall agritourism season under way throughout state

 

AUGUSTA — New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher visited Liberty Farm’s Sussex County Sunflower Maze on Sept. 3, heralding the start of the fall agritourism season.
The maze on Route 565 in Augusta is located on 50 acres with more than 1 million blooming black oil sunflowers.
Accompanying the maze are a variety of on-farm activities, including a kids’ scavenger hunt, build your own scarecrow contest and a self-guided bug safari.
“New Jersey farms offer a wide array of on-farm activities throughout the year for people to enjoy,” Fisher said. “After Labor Day is always a wonderful time to visit Garden State farms.
The Sussex County Sunflower Maze is just one of many unique experiences, whether you come to take pictures, wind through the maze or enjoy the children’s activities.”
Many farms around New Jersey invite the public during the fall season for hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin and apple picking and many more activities.
These activities bring added revenue to farms to make them more viable and helps to ensure that the land remains in active agriculture.
New Jersey had 347 farms that offered agritourism activities in 2012 that generated $18.4 million in revenue.
New Jersey ranks ninth in the nation in total agritourism dollars and nine New Jersey counties rank in the top 10 percentile in agritourism sales, including Sussex County, which ranks 85th in the nation with more than $1.5 million in agritourism sales.
The number of farms in the county offering agritourism more than doubled from 22 in 2007 to 49 farms in 2012.
Cut out in this year’s Liberty Farm’s Sussex County Sunflower Maze are the words “Amazing Sussex County.”
Farmer Raj Sinha said, weather permitting, the maze will be open through the end of September. Since opening in 2011, they have had visitors from Maine down through Georgia.
Once the maze closes, the flowers are then harvested for New Jersey Audubon’s Support Agricultural Viability and the Environment Jersey Grown birdseed.
“After my first year growing sunflowers for New Jersey Audubon, I thought there had to be a way that people could see and enjoy the beauty of our sunflower fields,” said Sinha, who also is President of the Sussex County Board of Agriculture. “The maze allows them to enter the field and be surrounded by thousands of flowers.
“It brings people from all over the East Coast to New Jersey and Sussex County.”
To find out more about New Jersey agritourism, visit http://bit.ly/1qiswcu.