New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher Monday recognized Terhune Orchards and the Mount family of Mercer County as the winning farm participating in the first Jersey Fresh Farm to School Farmer Recognition Award. The presentation took place during the celebration of the 8th annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week being held September 24-28.
The program is an opportunity for farmers to highlight their Farm to School efforts and to help feature their Jersey Fresh produce in local school meals.
“New Jersey school students benefit greatly from consuming healthy local produce but also can learn a great deal from our farmers about how their food is grown,” Secretary Fisher said. “The Farmer Recognition Award presented to Terhune Orchards is an opportunity to highlight how farms can engage with local schools to teach Farm to School activities and encourage more farmers to connect with schools.”
Terhune Orchards regularly hosts classes from schools and events for children all year round. The orchard currently has a tour program that includes exploring how crops grow, and life on the farm by visiting the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and a children’s garden. The orchard also features a life size story all about corn in one of its barns that shows the growing stages of corn until it is ready for harvest.
“We feel strongly that it is important to show children how food is grown and to teach them about the importance of eating healthy,” said Gary Mount, who owns and operates Terhune Orchards with his wife Pam and daughters Tannwen and Reuwai. “We are honored to win this first award and believe the Farm to School Program is a great way to educate children about what they eat and the importance of having fruits and vegetables in their diet.”
Terhune Orchards has 200 fruit and vegetable-bearing acres. The on-farm activities include apple picking, pumpkin picking, pick your own and field trips as well as having cider, pies and gift baskets at the farm market. Terhune also has farm animals on-site.
“Terhune Orchards’ on-farm education for students of all ages is the reason the first award was presented to them,” said Beth Feehan, NJDA Farm to School Program Coordinator. “From their ‘healthy soil’ lessons for preschoolers to teach about worms, to their observational lessons watching apples being pressed into cider, students are truly able to see how a farm works and what it produces.”
Other farms across the state nominated for the honor received a Farm to School materials kit which includes a Jersey Fresh Farm to School banner, hats, seasonality charts, and Jersey Tastes! posters, Those farms were:
- Alstede Farms, LLC: Chester, Morris County
- A.T. Buzby Farm: Woodstown, Salem County
- Fernbrook Farms: Chesterfield, Burlington County
- Norz Hill Farm & Market, LLC: Hillsborough, Somerset County
- Russo’s Fruit & Vegetable Farm: Tabernacle, Burlington County
- Wightman Farm, Morristown, Morris County
Farm to School programs provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to help students learn about local agriculture, how food grows and what it means to eat healthy with fresh fruits and vegetables.
To learn more, visit farmtoschool.nj.gov.
During the 2017-18 school year, the influence of the Farm to School Program led to 255 schools purchasing some local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts buying local produce directly from farms, 212 districts using a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts organizing field trips to farms.