Assemblyman John McKeon, the lead Assembly sponsor of the bill to designate the last week of September as ‘Jersey Fresh Farm To School Week celebrated the initiative with more than 100 fifth graders at the school garden of Seth Boyden Demonstration School in Maplewood. McKeon’s bill was signed into law in January 2011.

Flickr User Martin Cathrae

It dedicates the last week in September to promoting the value and importance of New Jersey’s agriculture and fresh farm foods including Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in schools.

The Assemblyman told the fifth graders, “What we are doing here by growing fruits and vegetables and eating more nutritious Jersey Fresh produce is cultivating healthier food choices and helping our state’s farming industry, which generates about $1.12 billion in annual revenue for the economy.  There are an estimated 10,300 farms in our state that grow about 100 varieties of Jersey Fresh produce.”

McKeon also went through the list of nine fruits and vegetables in which New Jersey is among the top 10 producers in the nation. These include cranberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, snap beans, spinach and squash.

Despite the negative perception other Americans may have about New Jersey we really are still the Garden State. Our food and agriculture are actually the state’s third largest industry, next to pharmaceuticals and tourism.