ALEXANDRIA TOWNSHIP, NJ (Hunterdon County) – Gaining first-hand insight on the availability of locally grown food and agricultural products, and the related business opportunities in Hunterdon County, Freeholder Board Director Shaun C. Van Doren kicked off an economic development project sites tour last week in Alexandria Township, along the county’s 579 Trail.
Van Doren, joined by Freeholder Board Deputy Director Sue Soloway and Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, discussed business development and future entrepreneurial initiatives with Mount Salem Vineyards founder and proprietor Peter Leitner, who helped develop the 579 Trail campaign that promotes agri-business in the county.
“Agri-business and agri-tourism are important facets of economic growth in the county. Among the reasons we have initiated this economic development site tour is both to learn and to also highlight their existence for the public,” Van Doren said.
Soloway, the Board’s Economic Development liaison, said, “Starting at Mount Salem Vineyards, the economic development sites tour is giving us a great chance to gain on site, firsthand knowledge about the value of the county’s economic development programs from local officials and business people.”
“Mr. Saluk has brought insight and unique vision to creating methods to market the county’s farms, markets and vineyards in his role as Economic Development Director,” Soloway said.
Mount Salem Vineyards, which was established in 2005, is an artisanal, critically acclaimed winery near Pittstown in Alexandria Township, offering handcrafted wines that are sustainably grown.
Leitner discussed with the Freeholders his working with the county’s Economic Development office on ideas that could encourage local food innovation and entrepreneurship, as a central component of the county’s economic development strategy.
“Ideas discussed included the possibility of opening commercial kitchens, increasing farm to table focus, and concentrated efforts to encourage and incentivize the growth of agricultural business overall,” Van Doren said.
“Hunterdon still has significant untapped potential to develop these aspects of the local economy and it’s great to see county leadership so interested in exploring this. Mount Salem Vineyards looks forward to continue its partnership with their efforts,” Leitner said.
“The agribusiness sector’s feedback has initiated this entire campaign aimed at increasing the visibility of our farms, markets and vineyards. Our plans are to continue to grow this effort,” Saluk said.
“The 579 Trail idea has real value for tourism and for our local food producers and businesses. The Freeholder Board is grateful to Peter Leitner, who served as a subcommittee member, for helping to create and guide the Hunterdon 579 Trail effort,” Soloway said.
“Leitner has also recently launched Mount Salem Kitchen, which produces premium packaged goods for sale online, at select retail locations, and at its farm near Pittstown,” Saluk said.
To learn more about additional stops along the Hunterdon County 579 Trail, click here.