The 2013 on farm pick-up application for Chesterfield can be found here.
We organically farm land in Chesterfield Township, Burlington County, including the first farm preserved by the Farmland Preservation Program in 1985. Prior to the farm’s preservation, developers slated a 1,066-unit housing project to be built on this and four other adjoining farms, totaling 608 acres. The farmland is largely comprised of “prime” soils—those most conducive for a wide variety of farm uses and also prized for development. Faced with this alarming proposal, some Chesterfield residents began evaluating options to block it.
A preservation deal that included financial contributions from the state, Chesterfield Township and Burlington County was orchestrated. The five farms were purchased from the developer in 1985, had deed restrictions placed on them, and were then sold at public auction under a sub-program of the farmland preservation program now known as the fee simple program. These were the first farms to be preserved using funds from the state’s newly created program. The auction drew about 300 onlookers, but when the bidding was over, four of the farms had been sold to land speculators, not farmers, with the fifth sold to a commercial pilot.
In 2003, Sherry and Jim discovered those first five farms preserved in Chesterfield. They ultimately entered into sale negotiations with a landowner of one of the five original farms (the farm purchased by the commercial pilot at the 1985 auction). In 2007, Farmer Jim purchased the farm. In the original plan for the housing development, this farm was to be the wastewater treatment facility and the plan included applying biosolids onto the farmland!
The farm is a total of sixty-nine acres, forty tillable, and the balance is wetland and woodland. Blacks Creek is its northern boundary. The farm is exceptional wildlife habitat, and we have had many sightings of raptors, songbirds, turkey, ground hogs, red fox and, of course, white-tailed deer.
One of Jim’s first tasks was to renovate the old dairy barn, which was in disrepair, and to stabilize the circa 1750 farmhouse. A new tin roof was put on the house in 2011 by an Amish roofing company and the interior is being upgraded using new innovative, eco-friendly products.
Over three years, we converted the farmland, formerly planted in grain, to an organic produce farm. This farm had been conventionally farmed for many years prior to Farmer Jim’s purchase, and there was a need to restore soil fertility. Winter cover crops, including yellow blossom sweet clover, winter rye and vetch are grown and disked in for improved soil health, and compost has also been applied to help restore soil fertility. Interns and volunteers planted fast growing trees around a portion of the perimeter to buffer the farm from neighboring farms and residences. Deer fencing has also been installed to minimize deer browsing on crops and trees. Pick-your-own fields, including small fruits, herbs and flowers, have been established. This farm was certified organic in 2010.
In 2008, we purchased another preserved farm in Chesterfield. This farm is located at the intersection of Ellisdale and Harker Roads and is 118 acres. Known locally as the “Wilson” farm, it is comprised of wooded and tillable acreage, has two streams and a pond, which hosts our resident beaver colony. Up until the 1980s, the Wilson family raised laying hens here and sold farm fresh eggs out of the basement of the circa 1710 home. Once the Wilsons ceased egg production, local vegetable farmers leased the farmland for over twenty years, growing a variety of produce.
After purchasing this farm, we spent considerable time and expense addressing the soil erosion problems we inherited. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (“NRCS”) is assisting us in this continuing effort. Over the past three years, we have installed grass waterways which are designed to allow surface water to drain without causing soil erosion. We’ve also planted fertile cover crops on this land to enhance fertility. In 2012 we will install deer fencing on this farm as well, with the assistance of a special program offered through NRCS for certified organic farmers. This farm has been certified organic since 2011.
We offer pick-up at the Chesterfield distribution center on Chesterfield Georgetown Road on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Members of the Chesterfield CSA program can get complete information regarding what to do when you come for your pick up by downloading the Chesterfield Handbook.
For members’ convenience, a recipe blog is published on our website. Our monthly online newsletter, The Local Harvest, is also available in the distribution center. In addition, we offer several events throughout the season.
Sharing a Share
Please note, if you choose to share a Family Share between two families, it is not the same as having two Individual shares. For example, there are times when Family share members are only entitled to one pumpkin or one watermelon. Family share members and their partner(s) will need to share that one item. Farm staff does not recommend Family shares be shared, but rather strongly encourage the purchase of Individual shares in order to avoid confusion and to free famiilies from the hassle of coordination of pick-ups, etc.
If you and your partners need to pick-up at the farm at separate times on your designated pick-up day, be sure to coordinate amongst yourselves to avoid taking the incorrect amount. We can recommend several convenient methods of coordinating with your share partners such as packing and leaving a bag for your share partner, or alternating the weeks of pick-up (i.e., you come the first and third weeks of the month, your share partner picks up the second and fourth weeks).
Pick Your Own Crops
Most weeks a number of crops for Pick Your Own harvesting is offered at the farm. This benefit is included in your membership fee. Members often tell us that PYO harvesting at our farm is the highlight of their week and an important component in their stress management program! Many of our members tell us that the CSA membership is still a good value even if they don’t partake in PYO harvesting.
A weekly emailed newsletter lets you know what produce is available in the Distribution Center as well as the availability of PYO crops. You’ll also receive produce preparation tips, event announcements and a weekly recipe via the emailed newsletter.
Membership Confirmation and Members’ Handbooks
Confirmation of your membership, pick-up day and share size will be mailed to you by the beginning of May. The address label will reflect your pick-up day and share size.
Please download and read carefully your 2013 Members’ Handbook. It is really important for members to read their Handbook. The Handbook is a member’s “owners manual” and answers common questions about the farm, i.e., how to store produce, what to do when you get to the farm and where you can find convenient and tasty recipes, etc. Please keep in mind that if you have additional questions, you can always call the Veggie Hotline or talk to an attendant when you are at the farm.
First Pick-Up & Membership Cards
The start date of the distribution season varies from year to year depending on the weather. For the exact date of the first pick-up and the start of strawberry picking, please visit our website or call the Veggie Hotline starting May 10th. The first pick-up is sometime after May 10th. Please be sure to come to the farm only on your assigned pick-up day unless you have made prior arrangements. We harvest just enough for the number of members expected per day.
Each time a member comes to the farm they must wear their personal Membership Card. The cards will be available for pick-up in the farm stand during your first pick-up. For our complete policy regarding Membership Cards including replacement fees, please visit our Policies page.