Farm stand open Students learn business while selling Garden State produce
by Al Sullivan Reporter senior staff writer
Aug 04, 2006 | 348 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Not every city hall in the state this summer sells fresh produce on its front lawn.

For many senior citizens, the sight of open baskets overflowing with corn, peaches and other farm products, flashes back to the distant past when such sights were common along the state's many highways.

Although sometimes thriving with business, the state had only a handful of customers when it opened for business on July 17, including one construction worker from a nearby project who was purchasing a few pieces of fruit to munch on for breakfast, and senior citizen Vicky Palmisano who had been to the stand before on previous years.

Each July the farm stand opens for business, as part of the Youth Farm Stand Program, a cooperative effort between Bayonne High School and Bayonne Faith Based Center.

While older residents may see the stand as a nostalgic blast from the past, for Rolando Belber, entering his senior year as Bayonne High School, the stand is a summer job.

"I worked here last year," he said, saying that many of the people who come to the stand are senior citizens.

The stand, located on the corner of 26th Street and Avenue C, is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Teacher Chris Wolfer, who is involved in the program, said this was the program's fourth season in the last five years, saying that for some of the students involved, this was a new experience.

Students apply for summer jobs, and in the process get an education about marketing, but more importantly how to deal with customers in face-to-face interactions.

The program - which also has the blessing of the state Department of Agriculture - purchases products from a New Jersey farmer, so in its way helps maintain the tradition that gave the state its nickname as the 'Garden State'."

"We deal with a farmer from Vineland who has a farm west of Wildwood," said Wolfer. "We meet him at different locations in the state to pick the produce for us. It's awesome."

Tom Fogu, who is in charge to the program, said one change from prior years is that the farm stand is up five days a week instead of four.

Farm produce is also brought to senior buildings in town once a week, in order to provide seniors with the opportunity to purchase these items. On Tuesdays, students visit Post Road Gardens at 10:15 a.m. then Back Bay Gardens at 1 p.m. On Wednesdays, they make their rounds at Constable Hook Housing at 10:15 a.m., and on Thursdays they visit the Kill van Kull Building at 10:15 a.m. and Pamrapo Gardens at 1 p.m.

The program works with the city's Office on Aging and seniors get discounts on their purchases; the program also accepts vouchers under the state's special supplemental nutrition program, Women Infants and Children (WIC).

The Bayonne program is based on a statewide initiative that began in 1994 by Cook College at Rutgers University, in an effort to promote the state's farming industry and to help young people become familiar with many facets of business and finance that go into operating a small retail center. This year, the project was funded by the Hudson Partnership Care Management Organization.

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