‘A Taste of New Jersey’ fundraiser set for March 23
WEST WINDSOR — The New Jersey Agricultural Society will hold its annual “A Taste of New Jersey” dinner benefit fundraiser at 5:30 p.m., on Saturday March 23 at the Boathouse inside Mercer County Park, 334 South Post Road off Old Trenton Road in West Windsor.
“The New Jersey Agricultural Society was really a precursor to the Department of Agriculture,” said executive director Al Murray. “It formed in Trenton during Colonial times as a way for farmers to trade information, in 1781. Back in the 1800’s they used to host a state agricultural fair in Newark and that was quite an annual undertaking. Back in the day, numerous governors and politicians were members of the society,” he added.
Murray said the Farmers Against Hunger Program began in 1996 and has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
“Today it’s grown to the point where we have more than 80 farmers and food-related companies that share their excess food. We feed over 7,000 New Jersey citizens each week. Many of these people are working poor. We have a whole network of food banks throughout the state and we have over 1,200 volunteers who can be mobilized when they are needed,” Murray said.
Other philanthropic efforts of the Ag Society include the Learning Through Gardening Program in public schools around the state and the NJ Agricultural Leadership Development Program for younger farmers serious about a career path in agriculture.
This year’s honorees include Tom and Jane Brodhecker of Brodhecker Farms in Newton, Sussex County, and Neil Pastore of Pastore Orchards in Hammonton, Atlantic County. Pastore Orchards — which began as a peach farm but now sells all manner of vegetables and fruits including blueberries — will be honored with the Century Award for more than 100 continuous years of farming operations in the same family.
Kristina Guttadora, who left the NJ Ag Society organization two years ago to go back to high school teaching in Freehold, will also be honored at the March 23 gala. Guttadora is being credited for greatly expanding the reach of all of the programs run by the Ag Society.
“She started off with the Farmers Against Hunger Program, but then when the director left, she became executive director and ran all three programs and did a fantastic job coming up with new and innovative ways of keeping the society relevant,” Murray said.
The Ag Society’s Learning Through Gardening Program has also expanded in recent years.
“We’ve placed gardens in schools throughout the state, and not only does it teach children an appreciation of agriculture, it also teaches them valuable reading, math and science skills in growing different vegetables,” he said. And something about growing the vegetables themselves makes the kids more willing to eat them as well, he pointed out.
Tickets, $80, include local beers, wines, appetizers, seafood, grass-fed meats, salads and dessert with creative use of New Jersey farm products, prize auctions and raffles. Tickets can be ordered by calling 609-462-9691 or visiting www.njagsociety.org.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925