COVID-19 had caused a big shift in New Jersey's multi-billion dollar agriculture and farming industry in 2020. Many supply channels and restaurants closed, forcing farmers to scramble to figure out how to get food on people's tables.

"Wholesalers became retailers and retailers turned to home delivery," state Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher said.

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So farmers pivoted. They decided they were going to have their farm markets open earlier than usual. They turned to online ordering and curbside pickup. They found a number of ways to expand their distribution channels.

For 2021, farmers are optimistic, said Fisher. The economy is starting to revive and places are opening up. Because people visited their local farms last year, Fisher thinks that will continue this season. He said people learned to appreciate what it's like to pick fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers grown locally.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are getting ready to spring into season. Fisher said asparagus is the first crop to pop up in New Jersey, which has the fourth largest volume of asparagus in the country.

Following asparagus are more green, leafy vegetables including spinach, lettuce, kale and leeks. Then in early May to mid-May, New Jersey will see strawberries, blueberries and peaches. Everything else pretty much comes on in July.

The website www.findjerseyfresh.com keeps track of the growing seasons and where to find fresh produce.

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