May 4, 2021New Jersey Department of Agriculture kicks off Jersey Fresh season
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and other state and local officials kicked off the Jersey Fresh season May 4 by visiting Katona Farms in Burlington County, which grows asparagus as well as other vegetables and crops. Jersey Fresh items are now appearing in farmers markets and stores around the state.
“Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables provide delicious and nutritious offerings to everyone here in the Garden State as well as other places around the country,” Secretary Fisher said. “The season is off to great start for our farmers with asparagus and other greens already available in supermarkets and farmers markets. Jersey Fresh is a trusted brand that is synonymous with peak freshness. We encourage all buyers of food to support the local economy by purchasing Jersey Fresh wherever it is sold.”
New Jersey ranks in the top 10 in the U.S. in the production of several crops, including fourth in asparagus. According to the USDA, in 2020 the New Jersey asparagus crop was valued at $15 million, and the overall production of fruits and vegetables in New Jersey was valued at approximately $350 million.
Other crops with an early harvest that are available daily include kale, lettuce, radishes, and spinach. Expected to be widely available in about a week are beets and strawberries.
Consumers can find what Jersey Fresh produce is in season and where it is being sold by going to FindJerseyFresh.com.
“We always look forward to the beginning of Jersey Fresh season and we have high hopes this will be an outstanding year,” Katona Farms owner and operator Chip Katona said. “We enjoy reconnecting with our customers in our market and plan to continue the agricultural tradition started by my family 70 years ago.”
First established as Rolling Acres in 1950 by Walt and Betty Katona, it later became known as Katona Farms and is now in its third generation. The Katona family has lived and farmed in Chesterfield Township for over 60 years. Along with asparagus, the farm grows sweet corn, market tomatoes, and watermelon which are sold at its Crosswicks Farm to retail customers. They also sell vegetables wholesale to large farm markets, and wholesale buyers, as well as to the Hunts Point Market in New York and to markets in Philadelphia. Katona Farms uses Integrated Pest Management to help farm efficiently and keep costs down.
The Katonas own nearly 800 acres, all of which is deed restricted to agriculture. They also have a grain operation which includes wheat for grain and straw, soybeans, corn, hay, and rye for straw.