As part of his 2023 Jersey Summer Road Trip, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) visited Eastern Fresh Growers Inc. in Cumberland County last week to announce grants awarded to recipients through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). More than $3.3 million in funding was awarded to 17 New Jersey rural small business and agricultural producers to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will lower their energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resilience of their operation.
“Today, I am thrilled to announce the Rural Energy for America Program grants, which will benefit small businesses and farms across Cumberland County and our state,” said Booker. “This federal investment from the Inflation Reduction Act will empower rural enterprises to embrace renewable energy solutions and be more energy efficient. This funding will go a long way to not only lower energy costs, but also foster a cleaner, more sustainable future for all our communities.”
“Hearing firsthand that the nearly $1 million grant funding will help Eastern Fresh Growers more quickly recoup their investment and offset nearly all their energy costs is important in appreciating the impact of President Biden’s economic agenda to strengthen our economy and invest in rural businesses” said USDA Rural Development New Jersey State Director Jane Asselta, who was onhand at the announcement. “New Jersey’s farmers and rural small businesses have several more opportunities to apply for grant funding so they can save on their energy costs too.”
“Supporting renewable energy and energy-saving systems helps the people of rural America create thriving, livable communities,” said Farah Ahmad, USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development. “These initiatives are critical to the future of our economy, and the grants announced in New Jersey demonstrate how the Inflation Reduction Act lowers energy costs and provides clean, reliable energy that ultimately keeps more income in the hands of businesses and producers.”
Sen. Booker spoke on the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act and delivered announcements to attending recipients at Eastern Fresh Growers Inc., which received $958,809 in funding to install a ground mounted solar array that will lower the farm’s energy use by more than 100 percent annually. The farm operates as a wholesale produce sales company which sources produce from their farm and other local farms. Produce is packed at their facility in Cedarville, which employs more than 100 personnel. Following the announcements, attendees toured the farm’s facilities and met with employees.
Additional REAP recipients in New Jersey included:
- Linwood Solar, LLC. – $563,734
- Achristavest Pier6600, LLC. – $92,120
- Burke Brothers, Inc.- $129,120
- Burke Chevrolet Buick, GMC Service & Parts – $186,320
- Jessie Creek Winery, LLC. – $39,800
- Kull Auto Sales, Inc. – $98,590
- Leslie C. Rea Farm, Inc. – $31,967
- Mahalo Diamond Beach, LLC. – $106,400
- Pineland Recycling, LLC. – $26,000
- Windrift Avalon, LLC. – $127,160
- Four Seasons Campground, Inc. – $176,000
- Wysocki Electric, Inc. – $64,000
- Cotton Cattle Company – $96,000
- Beneduce Vineyards, LLC. – $150,400
- Bousum Neely Partnership – $276,400
- MWM Properties Montville, LLC. – $224,000
The announcement of the REAP grants at Eastern Fresh Growers was part of Booker’s 2023 Jersey Summer Road Trip, a series of stops highlighting New Jersey’s 21 counties. The road trip focused on Booker’s efforts to secure congressionally directed funding for critical projects in the state; his legislative priorities, including his work to address the opioid epidemic, counter the scourge of gun violence, and serve New Jersey veterans; and his support of local businesses and organizations.