NJDA beefing up marketing efforts with digital billboards
New Jersey farmers grow more than 100 different varieties of crops, and the fall season is a very active time.
“Many community farmers markets and on-farm markets are open well into late October with some going until Thanksgiving weekend as consumers want Jersey Fresh produce,” said Douglas Fisher, NJDA’s secretary of agriculture. “It’s also a significant time for agri-tourism in New Jersey, as many farms offer hayrides, pumpkins, apple picking, apple cider, corn mazes and other on-farm activities for families to enjoy. Wineries also value this time of year as they regularly schedule events and activities during the fall season.”
Many New Jersey farms and wineries have a unique advantage as they are less than an hour away either from the Philadelphia metro region (in South Jersey), or the New York City metro area (in Central and North Jersey).
“It makes many of our locations popular destinations for day trips or weekend getaways,” Fisher said. “The on-farm experience is enjoyable and can be an educational outing as well and have an opportunity to purchase just-harvested Jersey Fresh produce.”
Crops like cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, kale, peppers, spinach, and others are available through October, with some going into November.
“One thing that has changed over the last several years is that New Jersey’s wine industry continues to grow, as we now have nearly 60 wineries,” Fisher said. “Also, apples have long been a regular fall attraction for Jersey Fresh consumers with several different varieties, some being available well into November. We also one of the leading producers in the country for cranberries, with harvest beginning in late September or early October.”
Early reports on New Jersey fall crops are good in general, though at the moment, like many growers in the mid-Atlantic region, some more rain would be helpful, Fisher noted.
The NJDA has stepped up its marketing efforts of late, including utilizing digital billboards reinforcing the message that anything labeled “local” also now means it is grown in New Jersey.
“We are making efforts to bring attention to supermarkets that are sourcing Jersey Fresh and New Jersey-grown product through store visits and social media posts,” Fisher said. “We will have digital billboards featuring fall crops, such as apples, as well as advertising placements in various traditional and social media outlets encouraging consumers to continue to purchase Jersey Fresh produce.”
The promotion begins in September and the digital billboards will be displayed throughout New Jersey to encourage consumers to “FALL in Love with Jersey Fresh.”
“Retailers can use Jersey Fresh promotional materials to inform their customers that the products displayed are truly local, Jersey Fresh products,” Fisher said.
In 2021, some sectors fared better than others, and as with any year there are gaps that cause farmers to re-evaluate their operations and the ability to assure a profitable season. The NJDA is still evaluating its data from the last 12 months and will be making moves to help growers increase profits in the year ahead.