EAT DRINK LOCAL RESTAURANT WEEK: JUNE 23 – 30
The restaurants listed here place a dedicated emphasis on using local, seasonal ingredients in their menus throughout the year, creating a distinctly Garden State dining experience. During Edible Jersey’s Eat Drink Local Week, June 23 – 30, many are offering prix-fixe and supplemental menus to celebrate our seasonal bounty.
The year was 2005 in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The previous fall I had planted a small orchard – maybe 16 or so fruit trees in the field next to our house – augmenting the 4 or 5 trees that were now 4 years old in another part ofthe yard.
Curious how the older trees never produced much of anything. Spring 2006 came, many of the trees bloomed and my family and I looked forward to some home grown fruit. The alternating warm and cold days of spring came and went, the flower petals fell off – and – hardly anyfruit was to be seen.I wondered why… until it occurred to me that we hadn’t seenmany bees. And that meant that we probably had very little pollination.
A little research and I slowly became aware of the plight of honey bees in the U.S. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), tracheal and Verroa mites, and numerous other diseases have befallen honey bees since the mid-1980′s. These diseases and the rampant use of herbicides and pesticides – especially in urban environments like we have in NJ - have destroyed more than 80% of the feral colonies in the US. In some places, a wild honey bee is a rare sight indeed. And no honey bees means very reduced pollination of crops.
What to do? “Lets get our own bees” I said to Patti, my wife, with a flash of over-exuberance! A little more research andI located a few beekeepers in and outside New Jersey. But I was too late… no bees were available for purchase by the time Igot around to seriously ordering some. Not that I knew what to do with them when they showed up – albeit local book stores did have a few beekeepingbooks -a favorite title being “Beekeeping for Dummies”.
A little more effort and I discovered that the New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture has a state apiarist – Tim Schuler. Tim was very welcoming and he told me about a “Beekeeping for Beginner’s” 3-day courseoffered by Rutgers University. Tim and Bob Hughes (another well known & experienced NJ beekeeper) ran the course and they were key in making me “almost obsessed” as some would say, with beekeeping. I started with two hives near my homein Hillsborough, NJ. By 2009 I had bee yards located on properties volunteered by friends, farmers and homeowners alike, in various locations in central New Jersey.
Yes, the bees do provide me and my benefactors with honey and wax, but most of all they provide mewith the pleasure of watching and participating in their fascinating lives. And in the process, I hope to give something back to them and nature.
When you hear Farm Bill, you probably think of huge corn, wheat and sugar subsidies.
Now up for reauthorization for the first time since 2008, the Farm Bill is a behemoth piece of legislation that’s been said — without exaggeration — to cover “everything we eat, wear and drive.” Not surprisingly, it impacts the environment, local economies and our public health.
But what you may not know is that every year, thousands of acres of farmland here in the nation’s most densely populated state are permanently protected through the Farm Bill. Through its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, 172 farms, most of them small and family owned, have been preserved across 15 counties in New Jersey.
The Farm Bill is a major funder of farmland and natural resource conservation programs in the Garden State. This is especially critical, since our small farmers don’t get the same crop and insurance subsidies received by large agribusinesses out west.
In addition to the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Farm Bill includes the Wetlands Reserve, Wildlife Habitat Incentive and Environmental Quality Incentive programs. These programs help farmers to transition to organic agriculture, conserve water quality and quantity and restore wetlands and grasslands.
Of the Farm Bill’s current spending of nearly $100 billion a year, about $4.5 billion goes toward conservation programs — but that may change. The Senate Agriculture Committee just cut conservation programs in order to reduce the federal budget deficit. There is talk of additional cuts, which would jeopardize the investment in jobs and local economies that conservation programs provide.
The Farm Bill has long been criticized for promoting factory farming and unhealthy foods. To address that problem, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proposed to transform the Farm Bill into a healthy food bill. Her amendment would reduce crop insurance subsidies, restore funding to nutrition programs and redirect $500 million to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren. Arecent survey of American attitudes toward agriculture, the environment and the national budget, found that most of us support healthy foods, conservation and small farmers. Here are some of the findings:
• 78 percent said making nutritious and healthy foods more affordable and more accessible should be a top priority in the next farm bill.
• 57 percent opposed cutting funding for conservation programs, saying these programs save money by preventing pollution.
• 75 percent said helping family farmers stay in business should be a top or high priority in agriculture policy and 31 percent would make it the top goal of subsidy programs.
Our nation’s Farm Bill should support farmland and natural resource conservation, healthy foods and small farmers. You can help. Call U.S. senators and your congressional representative at the Capitol switchboard at 202-224- 3121. Ask them to retain the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and other programs that help save Garden State farmland. Emphasize its benefits to our state, our local economies, our health and our quality of life.
New Jersey now has more than 2,000 preserved farms totaling nearly 197,000 acres … no small potatoes. A transformed Farm Bill can help this state we’re in preserve even more farmland in the years to come.
To learn more about the Farm Bill, go to the American Farmland Trustwebsite atwww.farmland.org or the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy website at www.iatp.org.
And if you’d like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources, please visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website atwww.njconservation.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele S. Byers
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
The 2012 Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation that is currently working its way through the Senate, is full of controversy. The infographic below, courtesy of TakePart.com, puts certain aspects in perspective — especially how commodity crops are subsidized and who is receiving the subsidies.
SOURLANDS WORLD PREMIERE
When: June 27, 7 p.m.
Where: Off-Broadstreet Theatre, Hopewell, NJ
Tickets: $20 (includes light refreshments & glass of wine or beer)
How to Get Tickets: Click here
Celebrities: After the screening, stay for a Q&A with director Jared Flesher, Mercer County Naturalist Jenn Rogers, and Princeton University Energy Plant Manager Ted Borer.
Details: All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Sourland Planning Council, a local non-profit organization working to protect the ecological integrity, historical resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region.
FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE
When: July 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Princeton Public Library
Tickets: Free and Open to the Public
Celebrities: After the screening, stay for a Q&A with
director Jared Flesher, native plant expert Jared Rosenbaum,
and Wattvision CEO Savraj Singh.
Details: A special summer event of the Princeton Environmental Film Festival.
via SOURLANDS: A film by Jared Flesher – HOME.
Come explore our Lavender Labyrinth this summer!
June and July
Tuesday through Sunday 10 – 6
August through October 7
Weekends only 10 – 6
Located in scenic Monmouth County, Pleasant Valley Lavender is New Jersey’s only Lavender farm. We grow a variety of English and French hybrid Lavenders including Hidcote, Munstead, Royal Velvet, Edelweiss, Jean Davis, Fred Boutin, Provence, Grosso, Gros Bleu, White Spike, Super, and Seal. We grow more than twenty different types of this versatile herb in our demonstration plot.
At Pleasant Valley Lavender you can explore the fields of fragrant Lavender and cut your own aromatic bouquets. We also offer fresh cut bundles, live plants, as well as a selection of Lavender buds, sachets, candles, handmade soaps, and delicious Lavender honey.
Everyone at Pleasant Valley Lavender is committed to making your visit an unforgettable experience. We look forward to sharing with you our knowledge and passion for Lavender!
Pleasant Valley Lavender
288 Pleasant Valley Road
Morganville, New Jersey 07751
The goal of this event is to raise money and make a solid investment in the future of America’s Grow-a-Row. Your support will help us reach our goals of doubling our volume of fresh produce to over 600,000 pounds, hosting 600+ inner city youth and expanding our Free Farm Markets to 2 more cities. The funds we raise will help sustain our operating capital and allow us to continue our work of providing fresh, healthy produce to our neighbors in need.
Opening Day for Montgomery Friends Farmers’ Market is Saturday, June 9th starting at 9am. Shoppers who spend $20 or more in produce, meat, or other products will receive a polo shirt with our new market logo, while supplies last! Welcome back to Suydam Farms, Griggstown Farm Market, Simply Grazin’ Organic Farm, Tree-licious Orchards, Woods Edge Wool and Alpaca Farm, JDGourmet, Terra Momo Bread Company and Orchard Farm Organics. NEW This SEASON: Unionville Vineyards and Fresh Brewed Coffee and Tea.
Mayor Trzaska will be visiting the market on opening day!
1340 Route 206 (South side in the same shopping center as Village Shoes and Technician X)
Open Every Saturday from June 9 – October 20!
The New Jersey Council of Farms and Communities (NJ-CFC) inspects and certifies the farmers who participate in the Montgomery Friends Farmers Market. Montgomery Friends Farmer’s Market farmers and vendors feature CERTIFIED Jersey Fresh produce, grown on their own land.
Belmar Seafood Festival, Friday – Sunday, June 8th – 10th. This three day seafood extravaganza features over 45 of the area’s finest restaurants and food vendors. From traditional steamed lobster to more exotic alligator sausage, you’ll find it at the festival. Live entertainment, a wine and beer garden, crafters and vendors and children’s activities make this one of the top food festivals in the nation. Free admission, food prices vary. Click for more information.
An Evening with George Taber, Friday, June 8th from 6pm-9:30pm. Unionville Vineyards. Tickets are $15 per guest and advance purchase of tickets is strongly recommended. George Taber is a wine expert and world famous author of the novel “Judgment of Paris”, the book in which the movie “Bottle Shock” was based on. George will make a presentation about his first hand experience at the 1976 wine competition in France and offer a special wine tasting presentation with acclaimed winemaker Cameron Stark where they will make comparisons of wines grown in different wine regions around the world. For more information about this event, and for tickets, click here.