The New Jersey Agricultural Society is committed to connecting with the public and agricultural community. While visiting farm events, county fairs, workshops, gleanings, food pantries, leadership seminars, and school classrooms, NJAS has the opportunity to interact with New Jersey residents in a variety of ways and hear their viewpoints on current agricultural issues. This outreach enables us as a Society to bring these issues to the forefront. Our program, New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger, was started exactly this way. While on a Legislators Tour, we heard from farmers how much edible, nutritious produce was being thrown out because there was not an efficient way to recover and transport it. At the same time, we heard from food banks and pantries that so much of the food they were able to provide was boxed or canned, very little fresh produce. Thus, Farmers Against Hunger began to bridge the gap of food waste and food insecurity, now providing over 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce donated from over 40 New Jersey farms, grocery stores and wholesale produce companies.
As New Jersey has grown into one of the most populated states in the nations, and development continues to change our landscapes from rural farmland to sprawling suburbia, the Ag Society faced this issue by developing Learning Through Gardening, a program of the National Ag in the Classroom project. By introducing young children (and teachers) to agriculture through school gardens, the Ag Society is teaching the next generation to value agriculture, eat healthy foods and understand their food system.
The pride that radiates from New Jersey farmers is second to none. Generations of families have taken care of their land and made their livelihoods providing fresh produce, nursery products, seafood, wine, Christmas trees, sod and many other agricultural products to New Jersey residents. The Ag Society's mission is to preserve and enhance agriculture in New Jersey and we feel that one of the best investments we can make is preparing our current agricultural professionals to become articulated, confident leaders who will take action to stand strong for New Jersey agriculture and ensure its thriving future. The New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program was developed to do just so. Through a two-year series of seminars, field trips and guest speaker events, NJALDP has been training agricultural leaders to take on the challenges of their profession. Many have gone on to serve on county boards and in leadership positions within the industry.
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