New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher this week kicked off the spring planting season by urging residents and businesses to patronize the state’s nurseries and garden centers.
Fisher visited Brock Farms Home and Garden World in Freehold which is a long-time supporter of the state Department of Agriculture’s Jersey Grown marketing program for the state’s $500 million a year horticultural industry.
“When planting your spring gardens this year, visit your nearby nursery or garden center and look for Jersey Grown annual bedding plants, perennials, shrubs and trees,” Fisher said. “These businesses at the shore and throughout the state are open and here to help during the Super Storm Sandy rebuilding process.”
Fisher also announced the launching of the new Jersey Grown website at www.jerseygrown.nj.gov. The site has a wide range of information about the program and industry, including a search function for nurseries and garden centers. There are listings for “choose and cut” Christmas tree farms and gardens or arboretums to visit. The site has details on all the Jersey Grown products and information for growers on how to become part of the program. There also is helpful information for gardeners, such as New Jersey weather and the plant hardiness zone map, and a number of links to resources covering everything from where to get soil tested to what plants are deer resistant.
“Use the Jersey Grown website,” Fisher said. “It is the most up-to-date and easy to navigate resource for gardeners who are interested in buying locally grown for their landscaping needs.”
To promote the industry, the Jersey Grown branding program was created and over the years expanded so it now includes trees, shrubs, flowers, annuals, perennials, Christmas trees, firewood, wood and black oil sunflower seed for birdseed.
Brock Farms has been a certified Jersey Grown grower since the inception of the program. The business was first started by Ed and Jean Brock, opening the Colts Neck retail outlet first, then the Freehold location in 1958. Freehold also serves as a re-wholesale center. The company farms more than 600 acres of nursery products in Bridgeton, as well as 200 acres in Monmouth County.
“Business is improving currently and the weather so far has been cooperative for harvest,” said Paul Witter, Brock Farms manager. “Some demand has been seen for plant material due to Sandy, but it’s still early in the recovery process to gauge any impact on the horticulture industry.”
All growers are encouraged to join the Jersey Grown brand. There are many benefits, such as identifying their products in the marketplace; capitalizing on the popularity of Jersey Fresh; and it is high quality.