October 25, 2013
Print Friendly
Pumpkin judging at the Monmouth County Fair in Freehold in 1910.

Pumpkin judging at the Monmouth County Fair in Freehold in 1910.


Heart-Healthy Halloween Tips

By the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is reaching out to families to show how children can have fun this Halloween while staying healthy.

Unfortunately, the annual celebration including junk food and candy can have a negative impact far beyond just Halloween. Childhood obesity has reached an alarming level in the United States. More than 1 in 3 children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to other significant health issues like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. But simple choices can help parents guide their kids toward a healthier path.

The American Heart Association offers these tips for a healthier Halloween this year:

Remember to have a healthy meal before you go trick-or-treating. This reduces the temptation to “snack” while walking.

Make this a fun family physical activity event. Set a goal of how many houses you will walk to and then stick to it.

Think about a healthier version of treats to give out at your house: mini boxes of raisins, 100 percent juice juice-boxes, snack-size pretzels, prepackaged trail mixes, prepackaged dried fruits, crayons, stickers, silly bands, toothbrushes, bubbles, plastic spiders, or coupons to local frozen yogurt stores. Avoid using toys that could be a choking hazard to little ones.

Find the right-size collection bag for your child. Steer clear of the pillowcase method.

Create a plan to deal with excess candy lying around your house come November 1.

Avoid the urge to buy on-sale candy in the grocery stores after Halloween.

Select one piece of candy per day for five days and put those in the refrigerator. When your child asks for a piece of candy, make sure to pair it with a healthy snack: an apple, a banana, some healthy nuts, or celery.

Avoid the additional empty calories of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, which has been linked to weight gain and obesity in children.

“Buy back” the candy from your child with money or tokens they can trade in for a fun activity: a day at the zoo, an afternoon playing at a local park, going ice skating, or a day at the pool.

Some dentist offices and veterans’ groups have been known to buy back the candy from the community, so be on the lookout for that option!

For more information on healthy lifestyles for children, visit


Preserving the Garden State’s Farmland – and Farmers

By Michele S. Byers

George “Dutch” Urban, an 89-year-old farmer, was seriously ill and couldn’t keep farming his 106-acre farm in Gloucester County, owned by his family since 1938.

Dutch’s farm was one of the last active farms in West Deptford, a town not far from Philadelphia, with high development pressure.

But in October 2012, just before he passed away, Dutch sold the development rights on his property to Gloucester County, thus preserving it as farmland forever.

The story doesn’t end here. With the land’s development value knocked out of the financial equation, another farmer could buy the property for about a third of its former value.

And that’s just what’s happening now. The availability of this affordably priced farm is allowing a pair of soon-to-be new owners – brothers Fred and Rosario “Hoss” Grasso – to purchase the Urban Farm and expand their existing farming operation.

This “win-win” story of the Urban Farm was recounted on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at an event there celebrating the 30th anniversary of New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program.

The Garden State’s program has been a galloping success. In three decades, more than 204,000 acres of farmland have been permanently preserved, more than a quarter of New Jersey’s agricultural land base.

More than just land has been saved. The agricultural community and industry – everything from the farmers who grow the crops to the folks who work at farm stands to the businesses that sell tractors and harvesters – gets a boost every time a farm is preserved. Agriculture is the state’s third largest industry, generating at least 61,000 jobs statewide.

But more farmland must still be preserved to ensure the long-term viability of farming in this state we’re in. The State Agriculture Development Committee aims to preserve at least 350,000 more acres!

“Preserving our farmland not only prevents sprawl, but it helps keep our economy moving and protects our hard working farmers,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem). “We’ve done everything possible to pro­tect the environment, grow our economy, create jobs and maintain the rural character that makes us the Garden State.”

But without more state funding for farmland preservation, the program will slow to a crawl.

In 2009, voters approved $400 million for farmland, open space and historic preservation, as well as “Blue Acres” acquisitions of flood-prone properties. That money is gone now, with funds either spent or allocated.

An effort this past summer to secure a sustainable, long-term source of preservation funding – $200 million a year for 30 years – failed to make it to the ballot for a vote this year.

If we want to keep the “garden” in the Garden State, we need to continue to preserve farms like the Urban Farm. And we need to replenish the funds!

Current plans and hopes rest on getting a sustainable funding measure on the November 2014 ballot. Please contact your district’s legislators and ask them to take action. To find your legislators, go to

Visit the New Jersey Keep It Green website and sign the sustainable funding statement of support, at statementofsupport.htm#.UmAIEtK-1I4.

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at


Michele S. Byers is the executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

Two River Moment

comment-halloween children Trick or Treaters R2864

These pint-size patriotic trick-or-treaters march along River Road in Fair Haven on an autumn day in the 1940s.

If you liked this story, you’ll love our newspaper. Click here to subscribe

You may also like