New Jersey is known for many things throughout the country such as our beaches, famous musicians, and old-school diners; but have you heard about its farm culture? The Garden State takes great pride in its farms, with approximately 10,000 operating today. These farms are responsible for about $1.1 billion in agricultural products, fueling local economies with real, responsibly sourced foods. Growing up in New Jersey, I have always been accustomed to farm-fresh products and plenty of fun pick-your-own activities with fruits, vegetables, or flowers. I will introduce three of my favorite farms in my area and beyond that have an enormous influence on the local economy. Together, the tens of thousands of farms across the state are what give New Jersey its Garden State nickname.
Alstede Farms, Chester, NJ
Alstede is a family farm in Central New Jersey that is dedicated to producing high-quality products while accompanying locals with memorable experiences. Started in 1982, the Alstede family has upheld their love for farming while maintaining a sustainable environment. Their fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more are USDA certified organic to assure they produce the best quality. They also have a fully stocked farm store on site, where they sell their freshly picked produce along with dairy products, honey, jams, pies, and beyond. They sell freshly made apple cider donuts in the Fall which are my personal favorites; the flavor just cannot be beat!
Alstede is also famously known for their attractions and events throughout the year. Pick-your-own is always available and changes depending on the harvests of different fruits and vegetables. There are always pumpkins, apples, and potatoes to be picked in the fall and fresh peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, and peppers in the summer. In late July to August, they feature a gorgeous sunflower patch with a maze and section for picking. There is always a petting zoo, where you can feed and pet cows, goats, donkeys and more. This farm has everything great to offer from its organic products to family fun attractions that never get old.
Melick's Town Farm, Oldwick, NJ
Melick’s Town Farm celebrates 10 generations of family-owned farming. Since 1725, they have provided New Jersey locals with farm fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, jellies, plants, and Christmas trees in the colder months. They created their own version of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, where they allow North and Central New Jersey locals to prepay for a share of their bountiful harvest from July to November. However, this family farm is famously known for having the largest apple orchard in the state; spanning over 650 acres of land with thousands of fruit trees and 20,000 apple trees. Pick-your-own activities are always an option with select produce available by the season, but what they do with their apples has helped them move into the retail business.
Melick’s produces hard apple cider and apple wine made from their very own farm fresh apples. Their traditional process presses the hand-picked apples and ferments them on site in their Cider Mill. Two of their ciders, the Semi-dry and King Street Hops, have won Double Gold medals by The Fifty Best, a company specializing in ranking and creating guides to wine and spirits across the country. Their hard ciders are delicious, crisp, refreshing, and have been made available in some retailers in the state. To get your hands on some otherwise, you should visit their farm stores to experience their craft!
Profeta Farms, Readington, NJ
A unique farm started in 2012, Profeta Farms is USDA certified organic and health-focused. Their core mission is based on diversity and regenerative practices that produce nutrient-dense, high-quality foods that are sourced responsibly. They hold their animal welfare standards to align with their organic certification, never using any GMO’s, antibiotics, or hormones on their livestock. The farm explains that regeneration is of the utmost importance in order to not only sustain the environment, but improve it. They aim to remove all chemicals, introduce and maintain an active level of biology, and balance the nutrients on the micro and macro levels. They work to produce food that is nourishing for our health and dually nourishing to the Earth.
Profeta Farms has both a farm stand and what they call, “The Farmer’s Kitchen.” The Farm Stand features dairy products sourced and prepared from their farm, produce for sale, and a butcher. At The Farmer’s Kitchen, they sell deliciously prepared foods in line with a farm-to-table philosophy. They prepare take home salads, pasta, soups, breads, an array of fresh ice creams and sorbets, wood fire pizzas, and much more.hey have a creamery, smokehouse, and bakery where they prepare their foods responsibly and fresh. The farm carries out its mission from start to finish when sourcing their foods to creating delicious meals with them. This farm is truly a relic in the middle of Central New Jersey that has a lot to offer to the environment and the health of its local community.
These farms may be specific to my area in New Jersey, but there are many across the country that are similar. You can find the best local, organic, and responsible farms in your own communities that will change the way you eat. Nonetheless, New Jersey is a beautiful state that harmoniously celebrates its roots with the farms that keep us afloat. The dedication of these farms gives the state its namesake, and the more we eat and support local, the healthier our futures will remain.