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N.J. officials celebrate Farmers Market Week

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials marked Farmers Market Week on Wednesday, Aug. 6 with a visit to the Bordentown City Farmers Market in Bordentown City, NJ.

Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed Aug. 3-9, 2014 as Farmers Market Week in New Jersey and  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, likewise, proclaimed the week National Farmers Market Week to remind consumers to visit these markets this summer and fall.

Hlubik-Farms-BoothNew Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher with Paul Hlubik, a Burlington County farmer and State Director of USDA Farm Service Agency, at the Hlubik Farm booth at the Burlington City Farmers Market."The Department of Agriculture encourages New Jersey residents to support community farmers markets and our state's agriculture industry," Secretary Fisher said in a press release. "Farmers markets like the Bordentown City market not only provide access to the freshest Jersey Fresh produce, but act as a neighborhood gathering place where people can meet the farmers who grow their food, exchange recipes using the fruits and vegetables and have an enjoyable time."

Secretary Fisher was joined at the market by James Harmon, USDA Food & Nutrition Service director of special nutrition programs; Paul Hlubik, state director of USDA Farm Service Agency; and other state, county and local officials.

"USDA is pleased to see the farmers market sector mature and grow here in the Garden State, seeding new business opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs," Harmon said in the release. "Farmers markets are often the first place consumers can meet their local farmers and are a building block for expanding local and regional food systems."

"The beauty of buying locally from your community farmers markets is that not only are you, the consumer, guaranteed some of the Garden State's freshest, most delicious, healthiest food choices at a convenient location and a competitive price, you also are contributing to the local economy," said Hlubik. "That farmer is your neighbor buying goods and services from other businesses in and around your local community, creating jobs, adding a scenic vista, contributing to a healthy environment — all keeping your community vibrant. In my two careers both in USDA and as a farmer, I'm dedicated to promoting your neighborhood farmer for generations to come."

There are 148 community farmers markets in New Jersey, eight of which are new this season. Farmers who attend these markets sell produce they've picked at the peak of ripeness within 24 hours of sale to ensure the best taste and highest quality. Many of the farmers accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers and SNAP food stamp cards.