FORUM: Barnegat Bay’s pollution sources

Rapid growth in southern Ocean County in the last decade may be accelerating the marked decline of Barnegat Bay in the last few years – extending southward problems that are already severe in the county’s heavily developed north, data from a new government report show…"I wouldn’t be surprised," said Robert Nicholson, supervisory hydrologist with the USGS New Jersey office, whose team of Ronald Baker and Christine Wieben were authors along with Richard Lathrop, a remote sensing mapping expert at Rutgers University, and Nicholson. Nearly 25 percent of the watershed is covered in turf grass, and most is in the densely populated northern county suburbs, he said.

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Sweet, super-sized peach cake planned for 4-H Fair

Standing over more than 150 pounds of fresh peaches Wednesday, Gloucester County’s Master Gardeners started a sweet and sticky assembly line…Twenty-four hours later, their prepped peaches would be part of a 250-pound peach shortcake recognized by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture as the state’s largest birthday cake. The peach cake, baked and assembled by Liscio’s Bakery in Glassboro, will debut Thursday at opening ceremonies of the Gloucester County 4-H Fair and New Jersey Peach Festival in Mullica Hill…The peach-filled mega-pastry marks the 100th anniversary of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the organization that oversees the Master Gardener program and 4-H throughout the state. "We wanted to do something fun and festive," said Luanne Hughes, an RCE health sciences educator.

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S.J. food stamp recipients learn to budget and plan

An anonymous fresh produce donation left at Colonial Manor Methodist Church is a blessing for the volunteer food pantry operating out of the church basement. …Their source is a mystery pantry founder Alice McKewen doesn’t mind leaving unsolved. It’s never been easy for federal food stamp recipients to stretch their allowance….In Gloucester County, 11,500 households receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, a 4.7 percent increase since January 2013, according to Ed Smith, the county’s Division of Social Services superintendent. More than 31,700 Camden County households benefit from SNAP. On average, a family of four in Camden County receives $632 a month, according to its Division of Social Services. That’s just under $160 for groceries every week."People don’t necessarily know how to shop smart, or how to get through until the end of the month on their SNAP dollars, " said Luann Hughes, an educator at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. "Budgeting and food planning help you stretch your dollars." Hughes’ programs target low-income families who may use food stamps. Her first lesson teaches SNAP students how to fill their pantries. Pick up pasta, canned vegetables, beans and soups from food pantries, and save food stamps for produce and meats, she advised.

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‘Grow me a memory’: Tomatoes are a treasured part of a lifetime of Jersey summers

Bursting with the taste of summer, the plump and juicy Jersey tomato often conjures delightful sun-drenched memories for many residents of the Garden State…The term "Jersey tomatoes" actually refers to any number of varieties grown in the state. Two popular Jersey tomato varieties, Ramapo and Rutgers tomatoes, were developed at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES)…Rick Van Vranken, agricultural agent at Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County, is involved with the "Rediscover the Jersey Tomato" project, with the goal of bringing back tomatoes with the sweet, tangy flavor that farmers grew in the 1930s through the 1970s.

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Rutgers conference highlights climate change preparedness, adaptation

On May 22, a diverse group of public and private New Jersey leaders gathered at Rutgers University to engage in a dialogue about enhancing capacity in the Garden State to better plan for and adapt to a changing climate. Organized by the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance, the conference was designed to highlight leading climate preparedness and adaptation practices across the country, efforts underway in New Jersey, and new policies that are needed to strengthen preparedness capacity in many sectors of the state including agriculture, public health, transportation, energy, natural and water resources protection, and urban communities.

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Cicada invasion slowed by rain, cold

It seems even cicadas don’t like going out in the rain. The anticipated emergence of billions of 17-year cicadas this spring – already in full throttle from the Carolinas to Central Jersey – has been suppressed so far in North Jersey, as wet and much cooler weather swept in last week just as the inch-long bugs were set to crawl from the ground…But by the middle of this week, after several dry days in the upper 70s, the bulk of North Jersey’s cicadas should finally emerge, Rutgers University entomologist George Hamilton told The Record of Woodland Park.

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Rising sea levels put South Jersey in peril

A tug of war happens on an almost daily basis in the Delaware River: Fresh water flows downstream from Trenton, while salt water flows upstream from the Atlantic. "Somewhere in between, the two waters blend in, each side pushing against the other," said Tony Navoy, assistant director of the New Jersey Water Science Center, part of the United States Geological Survey…By 2050, scientists expect water levels to rise another foot; and by 2100, three feet, according to Lisa Auermuller. She is watershed coordinator for the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences’ Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, based in Tuckerton.

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Genetically modified food technology is mystery to some, a worry for others

Barbara Thomas of Collingswood brings along a stack of shopping guides whenever she goes to the grocery store. She passes them out to customers waiting in line at the register and sometimes the cashier, too…Yet while studies show most people don’t know what genetically modified food is, the very words are enough to scare consumers, according to Dr. William Hallman, director of the Rutgers Food Policy Institute.

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