A new tomato is ripening across the state this summer. In response to an absence of Jersey tang in the modern tomato, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) developed the Rutgers 250. Its sweet-tart flavor satisfies nostalgia for the fruit of Jersey’s past… All 5,000 Rutgers 250 seed packets sold out in just a couple of weeks this spring. If you manage to get your hands on some, take note: “The best tomato is a combination of the genetics and the environment,” says Dr. Tom Orton, Rutgers Agricultural Extension Specialist. NJAES has been studying approaches from the era before mechanized farming and will start work on a Best Management Practices guide for the Rutgers 250 this summer.
“Here are some bags ready to be split,” says Brian Harman on a warm, sunny day last October before lifting a 40-pound bag and smiling at the tinkling sound made by the jostling of some 250 oysters. He wears black rubber boots that rise just a few inches short of the bottom of the back pockets on his blue jeans. He’s got on a T-shirt that says “Eat Oysters,” sunglasses to cut the glare, and blue work gloves… The industry began to recover, thanks to an MSX-resistant oyster developed by the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory at Rutgers, but in 1990 another oyster scourge, Dermo, hit oysters hard yet again. The Rutgers lab again rose to the challenge, selecting for Dermo resistance and maintaining its successful breeding program. The lab would also lend a helping hand in the launch of the Atlantic Capes Fisheries oyster-rack system by the end of the ’90s… “We can all take the same species of oyster from the same hatchery source and end up with a different-tasting oyster,” confirms Lisa Calvo, who farms oysters with her husband in the lower Delaware Bay. (Branded as “Sweet Amalias,” after their daughter, the couple sells them directly to a handful of Philadelphia restaurants.) Calvo is also the aquaculture extension program coordinator at the Haskin Shellfish Research Lab and knows well the important role that oysters play in a healthy bay ecosystem.