N.J. Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus.

N.J. Secretary of Ag Steps Down

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus has submitted his resignation, effective December 31, 2008. Under his leadership, the Division of Food and Nutrition was created, the amount of preserved farmland in the state nearly doubled, and New Jersey became the first state to develop an Agricultural Smart Growth Plan and Toolkit to help towns and counties plan for the future of agriculture in their communities. Kuperus also directed the establishment of economic development strategies for the 10 major sectors of the agricultural industry. Through these efforts, the number of community farmers’ markets grew from 50 in 2002 to 111 in 2008. Additionally, he implemented new branding initiatives, including Jersey Grown for horticultural products grown in New Jersey. 

The list of accomplishments is considerable; for a more comprehensive look at the department’s major initiatives since Kuperus took the post, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/NJDAinitiatives.pdf.

Mass. Farms Receive Federal Energy Grants

Fourteen Massachusetts farms have received USDA grants totaling $730,177 for a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The Mass-achusetts Farm Energy Program provided grant-writing assistance for several of the successful awardees. The following are grant recipients: Carter and Stevens Farm of Barre; Whitney’s Farm Market LLC of Cheshire; Andrew Pollock/dba Silverbrook of Dartmouth; Pioneer Gardens, Inc. of Deerfield; Morning Glory Farm, Inc. of Edgartown; Devine Farm, Inc. of Hadley; Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm of Heath; BOVF LLC of Nantucket; Foppema’s Farm of Northbridge; Four Star Farms, Inc. of Northfield; Red Apple Farm of Phillipston; Hall Tavern Farm, Inc. of Shelburne; Tripp Farm Family Limited Partnership of Westport; and Cricket Creek Farm LLC of Williamstown.

Tops Increases Support for Local Growers

Tops Friendly Markets, headquartered in Williamsville, N.Y.,  is placing an ever-increasing emphasis on stocking its store shelves with fresh, homegrown produce. Since the beginning of 2008, Tops has increased the number of local growers it does business with by 26 percent and significantly increased in-store signage promoting homegrown produce. The company is also in the process of returning to a locally operated company. It operates 71 full-service supermarkets and five franchise supermarkets in western and central New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.