Why is New Jersey called the Garden State?

Posted by Stacey Garcia, Ph.D. on Nov 11, 2014 11:11:39 AM

While sitting at a red light yesterday, my mind wandered, and became philosophical about the New Jersey license plate on the car in front of me. On the top of the license is a proud declaration of our state “New Jersey” and on the bottom of the license plate is New Jersey’s nickname “Garden State.” Admittedly, I was born and raised in New Jersey and have spent a majority of my life here, but have never given too much thought to the nickname. A quick internet search will tell you that New Jersey got its nickname from Abraham Browning in 1876. In 1954, the nickname was added to license plates and has been a staple ever since. The nickname might have been appropriate in 1876, but does New Jersey live up to its nickname today? Certainly there are other states in the US that would be well-suited to have the same nickname. As it turns out, food and agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry.New Jersey contains more than 9,700 farms covering more than 715,000 acres of land. That’s pretty impressive considering New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state in the US (we are small but mighty!). New Jersey farmers produce more than 100 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, and New Jersey is ranked third in cranberry and spinach production in the country.

nj_farmsEven the New Jersey state flag and seal depict Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, holding a cornucopia in her left hand. But you don’t have to do internet research to find out that New Jersey is passionate about their agriculture industry. I recently attended a networking event hosted by the New Jersey Food Processors Association and met several people with different backgrounds and interests, but one thing in common, a dedication to the food industry and food safety. As it turns out, I don’t have to go far beyond my own backyard to learn about the impact agriculture has on New Jersey’s economy, culture, and rich history.


For more information about New Jersey and the agriculture industry, please visit:




For more information about food safety testing in produce check out our blog, "The Power of Choice: Pathogen Detection in Produce." 

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Topics: Produce