As the weeks of quarantine continue, it seems like the items available are becoming more sparse. With limits on grocery items and frozen veggies , there is another option. They might have been out of sight but certainly, should not be out of mind: Our Local Farms.
Did you know? NJ is home to 9,900 farms! There is a reason why we are called The Garden State, as we are a top ten national producer of eggplant, peaches, cranberries, asparagus, bell peppers, spinach, blueberries, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Fruits and vegetables are essential workers during this pandemic as well. They help to provide us with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They can help balance our blood sugars, provide fiber, and reduce our risk for heart disease. Produce also contains water, which is important to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout our body and to our brain.
Remember, all forms of fruit and veggies count! Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice. Aim for five to nine servings per day. This may seem like a lot, but it certainly adds up quickly. An apple here, asparagus there, a cup of canned fruit, and carrots for a snack provides those 5 servings per day.
Farms to Family: From Facebook to Phone Orders to Curbside Pickup
Farmers help to provide access to food. While this may look and feel a bit different right now, they are thinking outside the box. They are creating new ways to offer their food, products, and items. Farms have gone digital and are are leveraging technology. Social media is assisting them in providing updates on product availability, changes in store hours, and responding to questions from their loyal followers. For example, Denville Farmer’s Market in Denville, NJ has created an online marketplace. You can place your order and pick up on Sunday at the Bloomfield Avenue Parking Lot in Denville, NJ. Farms View Roadstand in Wayne, NJ is taking phone orders and placing their order form with product availability on Facebook.
Contactless Curbside Pick-Up and Delivery has also evolved recently as well. Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ and Andersen Farms in Sparta, NJ offer this service as well as delivery, albeit, some mileage restrictions. The Fiesty Pepper in Oak Ridge, NJ provides contactless, curbside pick up as well. Simply place an order over the phone with the form on their website. It’s first come, first serve. Non the less, curbside pick up and delivery options provide an excellent option to those who are immunocompromised or who may be at high risk. Tranquility Farms in Long Valley, NJ offers special shopping hours for seniors and those individuals who are high risk on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8:30am – 10:30am.
Supporting our Farmers and our Families
While farms are pivoting to help their local communities get the items they need in a safe and efficient way, there is a way we can help assist them too! Community Supported Agriculture (a.k.a CSA)
According to the USDA, “members can buy a share of the farm’s production before each growing season. In return, they receive regular distributions of the farm’s bounty throughout the season. The farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, and earns better crop prices.” Reference (https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/community-supported-agriculture)
CSA memberships in NJ can start as early as February to May with harvest seasons extending all the way to November or December! Individual or family shares are available for purchase, and you usually receive produce items in a weekly box. This box can be picked up at the farm or at another location or even delivered. Not only do you support the farmer, but you support your health as well. You can even add on extras such as eggs, local honey, meat, and bread. What’s not to love?!
Where to Begin?
Start right here! I’ve created a list of local North Jersey Farms and Farmer’s Markets to help guide you in your search for produce. I’ve also included whether or not in-person purchasing is available, online ordering, curbside pick up, or delivery. Always make sure to contact the farm for complete availability and updates. And if you have a farm or farm stand that you would like to add to the list, enter it into the comments below! Stay safe and be well!