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New Jersey hosts Eastern Produce Council outdoor meeting

DSC 6461HILLSDALE, NJ — When the New Jersey Department of Agriculture hosted the May 22 meeting of the Eastern Produce Council, it marked the 31st consecutive year that the department had sponsored an EPC meeting.

As usual, the meeting was held outdoors under a tent here at Demarest Farms — and thus is known as the Jersey Fresh Cookout. (This year was the ninth cookout.) By tradition, this was also the last EPC meeting before its summer break; the council's meetings will resume this fall.

John McAleavey Jr. of the Eastern Produce Council with Jim Allen of New York Apple Sales.

EPC President Marianne Santo of Wakefern Food Corp. welcomed everyone to the event on a chilly Tuesday evening before introducing New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.

Fisher announced that the department's new website (www.findjerseyfresh.com) would be going fully live the next day, stating, "We're really excited about the new website."

Tom Beaver, the department's director of marketing, said that "a very aggressive" outdoor promotional campaign was set for this season, and that radio spots would be rolling out this weekend, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.

Denny Doyle of the New Jersey Blueberry Industry Advisory Council told attendees, "We have a tremendous crop right now, and we're just waiting for this weather" to improve. And even with the cool spring in the Garden State, he predicted that Jersey blues would start around June 15, which would be very close to normal.

Dr. Lewis DeEugenio said that "we have a full crop of stone fruit in New Jersey," whose season runs generally from July 1 to Sept. 15.

John Banscher, president of the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey, said, "We're having a late start this year" due to the cold weather, but with more seasonal temperatures right around the corner, "things are looking very promising."