Pledging Support To Local Farms Comes With Benefits

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first_imgFERNBROOK FARM42 Bordentown-Georgetown Road (Route 545), Bordentown,Phone: (609) [email protected] practices: naturally grownSeason: about 25 weeks, $690Work Required: NoPickup: Possible pick up in Belford section of Middletown if 20 shares are purchased, otherwise 2-7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays at the farm. HONEY BROOK ORGANIC FARM Pennington-based, distributed locally(609) [email protected] The oldest and largest New Jersey certified organic fruit, herb, vegetable and flower CSA, according to Members have pick-your-own privileges. Community events, such as cooking demonstrations, offered.Farming practices: certified organicSeason: May-NovemberShares: 4,000, offered in four sizes: deluxe bushel, $769; premium three-quarter bushel, $649; basic half bushel, $469; personal one-quarter bushel, $369Work Required: NoLocal pickups: Wednesdays at the following locations:— Dean’s Natural Food Market at both 490 Broad St. in Shrewsbury, and 1119 Route 35 North, Ocean Township, from 3-7 p.m.— Molzon Garden Center, 140 Middletown-Lincroft Road in Middletown, from 3-6:30 p.m.— Harmony Natural Foods, 1521 Route 35, Middletown, late afternoon, early evening— Fair Haven, private home, late afternoon, early evening— Coney Waffle, 803 Ocean Ave., Belmar, late afternoon, early evening By Gretchen C. Van BenthuysenBob Laurino was a little worried when the “For Sale” sign first was posted at historic Hockhockson Farm on Route 537 in Colts Neck.“When I heard it was going to be sold I thought I’d have to move out,” said the tenant farmer who’s been planting vegetables and flowers on about 15 acres for six years and selling them to the public at a roadside stand between Swimming River and Laird Roads.Not to worry. Entertainer Jon Stewart and his wife Tracey, a former veterinary technician, bought the 45-acre farm and plan to create an agricultural sanctuary-education center, including an 8,400-square-foot, two-story education-visitor center that will incorporate Laurino’s sustainable gardening business as well.“Vegetables don’t fall from the sky,” Laurino noted. “You have to plant a garden for them. People and animals both need healthy diets so school groups and summer camps can come here and take a tour and learn.”Laurino, a third-generation farmer whose grandfather immigrated from Italy, admits he knows nothing about farm animals, but plans to learn. He also hopes to get his fields certified as organic by the summer of 2017.“I’ve always hated chemicals; I don’t spray at all, but it takes at least seven years before you can get certified,” he said, noting previously applied chemicals take time to leach out of the soil. “When you stop by, you’ll see the guys out in the field walking the rows picking bugs off the crops.”And that’s what customers who care about what they eat like to see. So last year Laurino decided to jump on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) train, which recently has been picking up speed.According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a CSA consists of “a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.”OK. In the real world, most local CSAs offer shares that cost between $500 and $769 per season (some people split shares among themselves) that they pay the farmer in the spring, then enjoy weekly boxes of freshly picked, in-season food — often organic. Some farms require shareholders’ help for a certain number of hours each growing season. Almost all will consider installment payments.Everyone takes the risk— a poor growing season or, say, a hurricane may cripple a harvest.Other advantages for farmers include “selling” their food before the 16-hour days kick in, help with the farm’s cash flow, getting to know their customers personally.Advantages for consumers include ultra-fresh food, exposure to new vegetables and ways of cooking, often a visit to the farm, developing a relationship with “their” farmer and — the Holy Grail — getting your kids to eat veggies.Data collected in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates 12,617 farms in the United States reported marketing products through a CSA, a .5 percent increase over 2007. To find a CSA near you, visit www.localharvest.orgLaurino’s farmstand opens Memorial Day weekend, but the CSA boxes don’t begin until mid-July.“We only have a few things growing now, mostly flowers, but things  pick up in June,” he said.Last year, his first as a CSA farm, he sold 50 shares. This year 46 of his customers returned. Those that didn’t said there was too much food. His goal this year is 125 members. He works with shareholders who can’t pay the $499 for 14 weeks all at once.Kristin Hock watering the greenhouse. Kristin created the Caramore Farm on the grounds of the Collier High School in Marlboro. Courtesy K. HockAn average weekly share is 95 percent farm-grown with peaches and blueberries from south Jersey farms. A typical share: 8 ears corn, 4-5 beefsteak tomatoes, 1 pint cherry tomato, 1 pint blueberries,1 cantaloupe, 4-5 peaches, 4 nectarines, 4-5 mixed peppers, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, green squash, yellow squash, fresh herbs, swiss chard, beets and a flower bouquet.Too much food seems to be a champagne problem with an easy solution.The Pennington-based Honey Brook Organic Farm, the oldest and largest New Jersey certified organic fruit, herb, vegetable and flower CSA, according to, offers four sizes of bushels ranging from $369 to $769 per season. Not to worry. They deliver to Shrewsbury, Fair Haven, Middletown and Ocean Township where shareholders can pick up their goodies.The Coney Waffle ice cream store in Belmar offers fresh veggies and ice cream on Ocean Avenue. What’s not to like?“Our most popular size is the basic box (half bushel, $469),” said co-owner Sherry Dundas, who loves to visit Belmar “when I can get off the farm.” She and her husband started the business 25 years ago with 3.5 acres. They now work 350 acres. They’ve been delivering to the Shore area for five years.“We started before Whole Foods, and when organic vegetables were coming from California with brown spots. They just didn’t look good,” Dundas said. Also, she added, in the mid-1980s Alar, a chemical used for spraying fruit was found to contribute to cancerous tumors in lab animals. Interest in health food stores and organic farming began to blossom, she said.“The local food movement eventually caught up with organic farming and Baby Boomers — especially college-educated women with small children — who wanted healthy food,” Dundas said.Their typical customer is a 30-year-old woman with children. As Boomers age, Dundas said Gen Xers (people born from the early 1960s to early 1980s) have been filling in. Millennials, she added, are still living at home and putting off having children.That certainly describes Gen Xer Kara Ward of the Belford section of Middletown. Her daughters are ages 2, 10 and 12.Kara Ward’s children, from left — Aria, 4, Haydan, 12, and Maisie, 10 — making zucchini bread. Photo courtesy Matthew W. Hock“Every week it’s a little like Christmas as we open the box to see what’s in it,” Ward said. “We look up recipes. We have made kohlrabi fritters and the girls loved them. They been making vegetable smoothies. They like trying new things and they love to bake and cook now, too.”“We get 10-15 pounds of organic vegetables from mid-June to mid-October and we incorporate them into everything we eat,” she said. “We don’t want anything to go bad so we learned how to can stuff and we made pickles. I learned how to dice and freeze so we have veggies year-round.”Ward patronizes Fernbrook Farms in Bordentown where her sister Kristin Hock worked. Hock now is creating a farm on the grounds of Collier High School in Marlboro. She started a CSA, but it is only open to staffers at this time. Students also will work the farm with lessons incorporated from the school’s curriculum, Hock said.Meanwhile Ward, who has been driving two-hours roundtrip weekly during the season, is working with Fernbrook to have boxes delivered to Belford.“I have 15 people so far, but I need 20 for Fernbrook to deliver here,” Ward said. “If you break it down, the $690 price is only about $30-35 dollars per week and most farmers are willing to work with you on the payments.”If interested in a Belford delivery or volunteering at the Collier School, email [email protected] LAURINO FARM228 Route 537, Colts Neck(732) [email protected] Weekly share consists mostly farm-grown fruits and vegetables with some fruits from south Jersey farms. Typical share: 8 ears corn, 4-5 beefsteak tomatoes, 1 pint cherry tomato,1 pint blueberries,1 cantaloupe, 4-5 peaches, 4 nectarines, 4-5 mixed peppers, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, green squash, yellow squash, fresh herbs, swiss chard, beets, plus bouquet of zinnias or sunflowers (starting end of July). Farming practices: naturally grownSeason: July through first week of October (since 2015)Shares: 150, $499 for 14 weeks,Work Required: NoNote: Home delivery available SILVER FORGE FARM112 Iron Ore Road, Manalapan(732) [email protected] family farm offering organic vegetables and fruit, free-range eggs, farm-sourced items including wool products from Shetland sheep.Farming practices: naturally grown, grass fed/pastured, integrated pest managementSeason: May through October (since 2014)Shares: 15 offered, full share: $625; half share: $375Work Required: NoNote: CSA shares for 2016 sold out. Visit to be added to the waiting list. Eggs available to non shareholders when a surplus. Check farm’s Facebook page for updates.Organic Farming Terms Certified OrganicThere are many organizations worldwide that certify produce as being grown in a manner that does not harm the environment and that preserves or improves soil fertility, soil structure, and farm sustainability.Naturally GrownSome of our farms prefer not to pursue an organic certification, but do follow organic principles in growing their produce.Certified Naturally GrownCNG is a grassroots certification program created specifically for farmers that sell locally and directly to their customers. CNG’s certification standards are based on the National Organic Program but with some variation, including improved livestock living conditions and more explicit access to pasture requirements.TransitionalOrganic certification standards are very strict, and it usually takes years for farms the achieve them, as all pesticide and chemical residue from the soil is slowly broken down and leached away. Farms marked as “Transitional” are farms in the process of getting their certification, but that are not quite there yet.ConventionalConventional farming does not necessarily have to be as destructive as large scale chemical agriculture. There are many small farms worldwide that sparingly use chemicals when needed, and that otherwise follow good guidelines in the care of their environments and communities. We list those farms in LocalHarvest too.BiodynamicBased on a series of lectures given by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924, Biodynamics is a method of agriculture which seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. It is the oldest non-chemical agricultural movement, predating the organic agriculture movement by some 20 years and has now spread throughout the world.Grass Fed / PasturedGrass fed, or pastured, animals are raised on pasture, as opposed to being kept in confinement and fed primarily grains. Pasturing livestock and poultry is the traditional method of raising farm animals, is ecologically sustainable, humane, and produces the most nutritious meat, dairy and eggs. Source: Offers 200 heirloom varieties. Weekly email update with items available for choosing, recipes for meal planning and farm updates. Sustainably grown, chemical free, hand tended. Only farm in New Jersey growing certified organic mushrooms, according to its website.Farming practices: naturally grown, integrated pest managementSeason: May to October (since 2014)Shares: 30, box and market (market shareholders may visit 5 different farmers markets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and choose their produce); $700 full share; $400 half shareWork Required: NoLocal pickup: Asbury Fresh Market, Kennedy Park, Cookman and Grand avenues, Asbury Park, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. ROLLING HILLS FARMLambertville-based, distributes locally(267) [email protected] MATAWAN CSASusan Mann (732) 441-3321https://matawancsa.orgFacebook siteOrganic vegetables and herbs grown at Circle Brook Farm, Andover, NJ, and delivered to private residence for local distribution. Convenient to Keyport, Holmdel, Hazlet, Manalapan, Marlboro.Farming practice: certified organicSeason:  24 weeks from mid-June to mid-November (since 2015)Shares: 50, $675, plus $15 annual site fee.Work requirement: Yes. 4 hours per season at delivery site.Pickup: 5-7 p.m. Fridayslast_img

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