(MULLICA HILL, NJ) ― New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher kicked off the Jersey Fresh season on May 4, 2017, by harvesting asparagus at Grasso Girls Farm Market in Mullica Hill to highlight that locally grown produce and other farm products are now abundantly available in farmers markets and stores around the state.
Secretary Fisher, local officials and other guests took a short wagon ride to an asparagus field being harvested at Grasso Girls Farm Market.
“We think this will be a great season for our farmers and all of those who produce Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables,” Secretary Fisher said. “We want people to know that when they see the Jersey Fresh label in supermarkets and farm markets throughout the state, they can be sure that what they are buying is locally grown and will stay fresh longer. It’s not only good to buy local because you know you are getting the best wholesome food, but it also helps the local economy.”
New Jersey ranks in the top 10 in the production of several crops, including being ranked fourth in the nation in asparagus. The 2016 New Jersey asparagus crop was valued at $9.6 million and the combined value of the fruit and vegetable production for New Jersey was $367 million.
Other crops with an early harvest that are becoming available daily include kale, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Crops expected to be available by mid-May include beets and strawberries in some areas. For regular updates on the availability of Jersey Fresh farm products, consumers are encouraged to consult the Department’s weekly “Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Report” published on Monday afternoons throughout the growing season. The weekly report can be accessed at http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/JFAvailReport.pdf.
“We are excited for this year and expect to have another great season,” said Grasso Girls Farm Market co-owner and operator Mary Lynn Shiles. “We have wonderful customers who keep coming back to us because they know they are getting produce at the peak of freshness and quality. We look forward to seeing members of our community all year long.”
The Grasso Girls Farm Market, a family owned business since 1926, is co-owned by Mary Lynn’s brothers Rosario “Hoss” Grasso and Fred Grasso. Along with Mary Lynn’s daughter, Erica, and Fred’s son, Michael, the family actively farms 568 acres in Gloucester County, NJ. The farm primarily operated as a wholesale business, until, in 2002, Mary Lynn’s two daughters and five nieces begged to open a little vegetable stand in front of the farm.
The girls ran the market, and by 2006, a decision was made to build a permanent structure to operate a retail market. They now operate two active farm markets, one in Mullica Hill and another in West Deptford, which was built on preserved farmland, where they offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and honey sold at their two markets as well as Jersey-fresh eggs, various jams, jellies, bedding plants and dressings and Wagon House Winery wine.