The Local Harvest

THE LOCAL HARVEST   The Weekly Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, June 22nd, 2017


Like other New Jersey blueberry growers, we were happy to see our blueberries ripening earlier than last year.  On our farms, the plants are producing more fruit than last year; however, in Pennington, since this is only the second year of fruiting for the plants, the yields will still be somewhat modest. Blueberry yields increase as the plants become older and better established.  During a typical season, we harvest blueberries for about a month. Staffing the blueberry tent can be a lot of fun.  There is something about blueberry picking that brings out the best in people!  I had a lovely chat with a girl, about 8 years old or so, who doesn’t actually like blueberries but enjoys helping her family harvest blueberries.  Many members have tales of picking blueberries at farms in South Jersey in years past, and we even had one senior who was visiting from Massachusetts with farm members, and loved our blueberries.  I considered it a high compliment, as she was an experienced picker from a state that takes its blueberries almost as seriously as we do in Jersey!

My sister Sandi and I picked together one Saturday night early in the blueberry season, and it revived memories of our days as little girls harvesting wild blueberries at Holiday Haven campground in Estelle Manor, NJ, while Mom readied the pancake batter inside our travel trailer.  We reminisced about how well we ate as children in the summer when we were camping in South Jersey.  Mom would either patronize the local farm stands by purchasing sweet corn and tomatoes, or would bring to our humble campsite some of the sweet peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes she grew in our home garden.  Dad was a clammer and crabber, and spent summer weekends harvesting the finest shellfish New Jersey had to offer out of the Great Egg Harbor River estuary, then made the best clam chowder ever when he got back to our campsite.  We would savor the Manhattan-style chowder, enriched with Jersey tomatoes and green beans, with buttered Jersey sweet corn on the side. Most evenings we dined with the repetitive chant of Eastern whip-poor-wills (whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will) as our dinner music.  Later, we were tucked into our sleeping bags thoroughly content, until we remembered we were in the stomping ground of the Jersey Devil! 

In other blueberry news, for the first time ever, the farm will staff a tent at the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival in Browns Mills, NJ this coming weekend! I have been an admirer of Elizabeth White ever since I first read about her in Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women (which Farmer Jim gave me as a present about 17 years ago!), so we are honored to have the farm be a presence at the festival.  Elizabeth White is considered one of the most important plant breeders to have assisted in the commercial cultivation of the modern blueberry. Click here to listen to an August 4, 2015 NPR story on NJ’s blueberry history, and please come out to visit us at the festival and learn about the history of blueberry culture in NJ.  When visiting our tent, feel free to ask Julia, who is responsible for our blueberry field management, any questions you may have regarding our organic blueberry production in Burlington and Mercer counties and say hello to Heather, our new Chesterfield Farm Market Manager.


While continuing to harvest the heaps of cooking and salad greens we’ve been enjoying for weeks, radishes, beets, summer squash and broccoli have begun to be harvested.  This past week’s rainy weather, though, set back field staff’s transplanting schedule, so members may notice at both farms that the plastic mulch has been laid in the PYO fields, but the transplanting was halted since the tractors can’t work muddy fields.  Another casualty of the wet conditions has been the garlic, which is a partial crop failure due to the continued saturation of the Pennington fields in which they were planted. In Chesterfield, we were able to transplant a portion of our summer flowers, but more are still to be planted and sunflowers at both farms remain to be seeded as well.  We opened our PYO green bean fields in Pennington, but the beans in Chesterfield have been deviled by this wet weather and are now in need of some serious weeding.  Unfortunately for farmers, with rainy weather come lots of weeds that need to be controlled!


Download the 5/21 newsletter here.

Download the 5/28 newsletter here.

Download the 6/6 newsletter here.

Download the 6/13 newsletter here.

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