By Brandon Goldner

PITTSGROVE, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey’s secretary of agriculture, along with local politicians and Department of Agriculture staffers, gathered at Walker Brothers, Inc. in Salem County to launch the start of “Jersey Fresh” season, the state initiative to encourage customers to buy from local farmers.

Scott Walker is Walker Brothers’ fifth generation to run the Pittsgrove farm, which began operating in 1845. The farm grows asparagus and sells asparagus seeds to countries on six different continents.

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“They would be amazed at the way things have changed,” Walker said, discussing his family’s prior generations of farmers. “My father and my uncle, they were plowing this farm with a horse.”

Like families at the grocery store, Walker said he and his fellow farmers have seen their supply costs spike to about triple what they paid two years ago.

“I’m worried for a lot of friends, a lot of people in the industry. I really don’t know if they’re going to get through this one,” Walker said. “People are making money, but it’s not us.”

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While touring Walker Brothers, Inc., New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher, a Democrat, believes this year’s “Jersey Fresh” initiative will allow families to save money for families while increasing revenues for farmers.

With skyrocketing shipping costs, he anticipated more supermarkets will turn to local farmers to supply produce, which would cut down on grocery stores’ costs.

“They’re cost-savings that will be passed along to the consumers,” Fisher said. “We’re hopeful that it’s going to be a good season from the market perspective.”

Fisher said families can also save money by buying directly from farmers.

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For more information on Jersey Fresh and participating locations, click here.

Brandon Goldner