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NJFB billboard calls attention to state’s agriculture

TRENTON (Sept. 1, 2015) — Driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike you might be surprised to see farmland, green with produce ready for summer harvest.
Look up at Exit 8A, and you’ll see a big billboard: “No Farmers…No Food!”
Its purpose is to remind drivers along this busy corridor that the freshest bounty is brought to you by farmers who work the land, and can be shared locally by those passers-by who take the time to check out www.visitnjfarms.org.
The website is listed on the billboard and will lead those interested in farm-fresh produce to a farm market, farmstand or pick-your-own farm.
“Our state boasts 9,071 farms of all sizes on 715,000 acres, representing 15 percent of total New Jersey land, providing a great diversity of crops,” said Ryck Suydam, president of the New Jersey Farm Bureau, which sponsored the billboard. “We want passing travelers to recognize that those turnpike exits can lead to picturesque farms.
“Take an exit and visit one of them. Buy some Jersey Fresh produce or pick it yourself to take to your destination.”
Produce now in good supply includes summer varieties like cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash, sweet corn, the famed Jersey tomatoes, peaches and nectarines.
In addition to these traditional crops, New Jersey farmers are catering to the state’s diverse population, planting crops that are customary in the Caribbean, Asia, India and Africa.
Farming in New Jersey, like everything else, has been evolving.
Today’s farmers employ very high tech mechanisms and the latest in scientific agriculture research in growing their crops. And, they are savvy marketers as well.
They take advantage of exploding consumer demand for locally grown, getting their produce into supermarkets and big-box stores, schools, and restaurants, in response to promotion of farm-to-table menus.
Food and agriculture are the state’s third largest revenue producer, with agriculture alone generating $1.2-billion in cash receipts in 2012 (according to New Jersey Department of Agriculture).
As of the end of 2014, some 2,295 farms covering 212,129 acres have been permanently preserved, meaning that they are forever dedicated to agriculture.
“A strong farm economy not only supports employment, commerce and agriculturally related tourism, but also strengthens the state’s local food system, helping to ensure access to healthy food for all residents,” Suydam said.