Focus on agritourism

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:51

    New program pushes shopping and eating local foods Sussex County — In an effort to promote local farm stands and farm markets, the Sussex County Office of Conservation and Farmland Preservation and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Sussex County have put their collective heads together. They came up with a program called 10 For 10 to draw attention to the many Jersey Fresh products that are now popping up at local stands. The program asks residents to estimate the dollar value of their weekly food purchases and then to pledge to spend 10 percent of that total for 10 consecutive weeks on purchases made at Sussex County farm stands or farmers markets. “The goal of the program is simple,” according to a press release issued by Donna M. Traylor, the program director. “First, it helps to educate the consumer about healthy eating by purchasing locally grown vegetables, fruits and value-added products. And secondly, when consumers 'Buy Fresh and Buy Local,’ they are helping maintain a viable local agriculture which in turn supports the region’s quality of life, as farms can remain part of the landscape.” Contest under way To further promote the new program, a summer-long contest offers prizes of several Jersey Fresh/Sussex Grown gift baskets to people who fill out forms about their local farm shopping. To enter the contest, download a coupon at the 10 For 10 Web page at Coupons are also available at the Sussex County Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds. The Web site lists farmers who will have coupons available at their farm stands, too. For every local purchase made at a farm stand, the shopper has the farmer fill out on the coupon how much was spent and the name of the farm. There are multiple areas for each week, for those who stop at several different farms during a week. At the end of the 10 weeks, the fully completed coupons should be dropped off at either a farm listed on the Web site or at the Sussex County Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds in Augusta. All coupons that meet the 10-week commitment will be entered into drawings to win one of several Jersey Fresh/Sussex Grown gift baskets. The drawings will take place at the Sussex County Harvest Festival at the Fairgrounds on Oct. 15. What are value-added farm products? Flower arrangements, garlic braids, grapevine wreaths, willow baskets, wheat straw weavings, sheep and goat milk soaps, wool mulch, cooked, baked, dried, smoked, packaged foods and entertainment may be considered value-added products. Facing a tough economy, farm stands that offer more than just produce or raw goods can attract more sales.