It's time to shop local and buy Jersey Fresh produce, which has once again kicked off in the Garden State.

What started as an advertising, promotional, and quality grading program launched in 1984, "The Jersey Fresh" campaign is designed to help farmers inform consumers about the availability and variety of New Jersey grown fruits and vegetables.

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher said when talking about Jersey Fresh produce, that means Grade-A, top quality, locally grown fruits, and veggies.

He said it was a slow start to the crop growing season in New Jersey due to the cold weather, but now everything seems to be catching up.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo
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"Already, we've started with a number of greens. Of course, the asparagus that everybody has been waiting for is popping up through the ground. You can get that at your local markets or supermarkets. Things are starting to shape up and we're really excited," Fisher said.

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Other Jersey Fresh crops that are available right now include spinach, kale, leeks, swiss chard, and herbs. In a few weeks, Jersey Fresh strawberries will be coming on the scene too.

There are more than 100 different varieties of fruits and vegetables grown in the Garden State on more than 10,000 farms and 730,000 acres of farmland, according to Fisher.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo
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"It's an exciting time for people to take advantage of what's grown here and what's produced here," he said.

The agricultural industry has an enormous economic impact on the state. Fisher said it provides thousands of jobs and the product as it's grown is valued at $1.1 billion in farm gate sales. That means that's just coming out of the field, ready to go to market, where the value will expand even further.

"If you see the word local, it has to be grown and produced and harvested in the state. That's what makes it local. So, ask for local. Ask for Jersey Fresh and you'll be assured of getting stuff that's right from your friends and farmer neighbors across the street and the state," Fisher said.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo
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New Jersey has ranked nationally in the top 10 as producers of blueberries, peaches, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes, and cranberries.

For a list of freshly grown fruits and vegetables in New Jersey, along with a list of where to buy them, pick-your-own farms, and more, visit www.findjerseyfresh.com.

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