County to kick off Grown in Monmouth

Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freeholder Lillian G. Burry are inviting anyone who is interested in the business of agriculture to attend the Grown in Monmouth kickoff meeting on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Rutgers Research Center, 283 Route 539, Upper Freehold Township.

“Grown in Monmouth is the newest initiative under our Grow Monmouth program,” Arnone said. “This project will focus on promoting the wonderful agricultural products produced right here in Monmouth County. This is another way the county aims to help local and small businesses.”

Attendees will hear a presentation by Arnone and Burry and the Grown in Monmouth project team, according to a press release. The project team consists of staff from the county’s Division of Economic Development, Division of Planning, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County and the firm of Spinelli and Pinto Consulting.

The first objective of the project will be to create an inventory of all available agricultural products produced in the rural sections of the county. Then, an analysis will be conducted of the food supply and distribution chain to identify their needs and challenges. Once completed, strategies will be developed to help overcome those challenges, according to the press release.

“An important part of this project will be to conduct research to gain a comprehensive understanding of not only the needs of the county’s agricultural industry, but also the needs of local and regional buyers in order to develop a strategy to foster successful business relationships,” Arnone said.

Long-term goals include identifying new business opportunities as part of a marketing plan that will strive to develop an awareness and preference of buying local by consumers and institutional users.

In the fall of 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to assess the rural agricultural industry in Monmouth County, evaluate current trends and future opportunities to expand the industry, and to develop a marketing strategy to promote and market local agricultural products, according to the press release.

The freeholders and the Grown in Monmouth project team will also participate in the Feb. 26 Vegetable Growers Association Conference held by Rutgers University at the county’s agricultural building in Freehold Township.

For more information, contact the Division of Economic Development at 732-431-7470.

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