From the Garden State to Your Plate, Farming Fruits and Vegetables in New Jersey

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From the Garden State to Your Plate

Farming Fruits and Vegetables in New Jersey By Carolyn Taylor Art by Lauren Theis

A New Jersey Agricultural Society publication

From the Garden State to Your Plate Farming Fruits and Vegetables in New Jersey

A publication of the New Jersey Agricultural Society

By Carolyn Taylor Art by Lauren Theis

New Jersey Agricultural Society 1200 Florence Columbus Rd. Bordentown, NJ 08505 Copyright Š 2019 All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. ISBN: 978-0-578-44291-4 Special thanks to Caroline Etsch and Tracy Duffield of the New Jersey Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee for their dedication to the publication of this book. Cover photographs: Duffield’s Farm Market, Sewell, NJ; Specca Farms, Bordentown, NJ; Title page photograph: A.T. Buzby Farm, Woodstown, NJ; Beatrice Bee and New Jersey map by: Loreto Martin Nutritional information by: Elyse Yerrapathruni, Director of Outreach & Events for Farmers Against Hunger

This book is dedicated to all the wonderful teachers in the program who teach their students how their food is grown by giving them the opportunity to plant and learn in a school vegetable garden. We are so proud of you!

Hi There!

I am Beatrice, a -utiful honey bee! I am New Jersey’s official state insect. I am here to take you on a tour of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in the Garden State. That’s right, New Jersey’s nickname is the Garden State -cause of all the wonderful food that is grown on New Jersey farms. Agriculture is another word for farming. Agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry. Duffield’s Farm, Sewell, NJ;

That may surprise you. Farming takes a lot of land, and New Jersey is a small state. In fact, of the 50 states in our country, only three states - Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island - are smaller than New Jersey. Yet today, there are 9,000 farms in New Jersey where 100 different kinds of fruits and vegetables are grown. Farms are measured in acres. An acre is about the size of one football field. New Jersey’s farms cover 720,000 acres. That’s a lot of football fields! The value of crops grown in New Jersey each year is more than $1 billion. That’s a lot of money!

Truth told, you also wouldn’t think New Jersey is a good place for farming, -cause the state is very crowded. Nine million people live here. It is the most densely populated state in the country.

The two people in this elevator look very comfortable. The population of the elevator is not very dense!

What does that mean? It means that New Jersey has more people living here for each square mile than any other state.

Here's the same elevator jammed with people - a very dense population!

To understand density, picture an elevator with two people in it. The population of the elevator is not very dense. Then picture the same elevator crowded with people. The amount of space is the same, but the population in the elevator is very dense! If you divided New Jersey’s population equally and placed them into the number of square miles in the state, there would be 1,210 people in every square mile. If you did the same thing with the entire population of the United States, there would be only 92 people in every square mile.

Hillsboro Farms, Hillsborough,

Let’s take a look at where some of the delicious crops that make New Jersey the Garden State are grown. This is a map of New Jersey showing 10 important fruits and vegetables grown here. You see that New Jersey is divided into 21 counties. You can see that many counties, but not all, have farms that grow New Jersey’s 10 most important fruit and vegetable crops. On the map, you will also see the names of the 10 biggest cities in New Jersey. Look at the northeastern corner of the map. Many of these cities are located in the northeastern part of the state, across the Hudson River from New York City. -cause there are so many cities in this part of the state, there is not much room for farming. Point to the northwestern corner of the map. There are fewer farms here because this area has many mountains and that land cannot be used for farming. This map shows the counties where there are large farms of 100 acres or more that grow these 10 fruits and vegetables. There are many smaller farms that this map does not show. Can you find your county on the map? Are any of New Jersey’s top crops grown there?

Map Key


Bell Peppers


Blueberries Paterson







Hud son




Jersey City Bayonne



Union Hunterdon


Union City

Somerset Middlesex

Soybeans Mercer




Squash Tomatoes

Ocean Camden

Burlington Gloucester Gloucester


Salem Atlantic



Are you ready? We are going to fly over the Garden State to take a look at the fruits and vegetables that grow here!

Cape May




We will -gin our tour of New Jersey farms with blueberries, the official fruit of New Jersey and the state’s biggest crop! In fact, New Jersey is the fifth largest blueberry-growing state in the country.

Blueberries grow on bushes in a woody area known as the Pine Barrens, which covers 1 million acres of land in Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean counties in the southern part of the state. Most crops won’t grow in the sandy, acidic soil of the Pine Barrens, but blueberries love it there. They were growing wild in the forests when the Lenape Native Americans lived on the land that later -came New Jersey. The Native Americans ate the berries and used them for medicine, tea, and dyes. There are two types of blueberry plants: highbush and lowbush. New Jersey farmers plant the highbush variety, which can grow 6-12 feet high. The berries from these bushes are usually sold fresh.

Elizabeth Coleman White invented blueberry farming in New Jersey in 1910. Â Â?

The lowbush variety of blueberries grows in Maine and Canada. These bushes only grow to about two feet high. The berries are smaller and are usually sold frozen or canned.

Blueberry farming was actually invented in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in 1910 by a woman named Elizabeth Coleman White. -fore this time, people enjoyed the wild blueberries growing in forests, but they couldn’t grow them in their fields, which didn’t have the sandy, acidic soil that blueberries need.

Blueberry bushes growing in fields of sandy soil. Merlino Brothers Farm, Hammonton, NJ;

Elizabeth lived on a cranberry farm called Whitesbog in Browns Mills, Burlington County. Cranberries also grow best in sandy, acidic soil. She got the idea to plant blueberries in -tween the cranberry bogs on her farm. She contacted a botanist named Frederick Coleville who was doing research on blueberries for help with her idea. Elizabeth paid her neighbors to bring her Some blueberry farmers use a machine that moves over the bushes blueberry bushes with the largest berries and shakes off the berries. Merlino Brothers Farm, Hammonton, NJ; from the Pine Barrens forests. She experimented with growing them. Six years later, she was harvesting blueberries from her farm. Blueberries are harvested in June, July, and August. At most farms in New Jersey, the blueberries are picked by hand. At some very large farms, however, the berries are harvested by machines that move over the bushes, shaking the berries from the branches and dropping them into boxes.

Blueberries are first green and then turn blue.



Antioxidants Vitamin C Vitamin K Blueberries are considered a superfood of nutrition! A serving of blueberries is stuffed with antioxidants like vitamin C, that help protect you from cancer and other diseases, as well as vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and healthy bones.

Most New Jersey blueberries are picked by hand. Michael Cappuccio Farm, Hammonton, NJ;

a e at is Wh favorit s ’ st gho fruit?




Tomatoes -long on our tour -cause Jersey tomatoes are famous for their sweet and juicy taste! The tomato is the official vegetable of New Jersey and it is the state’s second largest crop. New Jersey ranks in the top 10 states for tomato production. Tomato plants love hot weather, but in New Jersey they cannot be planted outside in fields until the middle of May. So, most tomato seeds are first planted inside greenhouses, where the small tomato plants can get a head start growing in the warm air.

Tomatoes are planted in greenhouses like these in early spring. Then they are transplanted into the field in the middle of May. Abma’s Farm, Wyckoff, NJ;

The small tomato plants from the greenhouse – called – are then planted in the fields where they grow until the tomatoes are ready to be eaten. When plants are grown in one place and then moved to another, it is called . Tomato plants can grow up to six feet tall! When these large plants are covered with tomatoes, their tops get heavy, and they bend toward the ground. Some farmers support their tomato plants with stakes or cages. Others surround the plants with plastic so when the plants bend, the growing tomatoes do not lie on the ground. Tomatoes are first green, and then they ripen to other colors. Why do Jersey tomatoes taste so good?

On large farms in other states, the types of tomatoes grown are ones that won’t bruise easily when shipped a long distance. These tomatoes are picked when they are green, and are often sent hundreds of miles to grocery stores. While these tomatoes travel well, they don’t taste as good as Jersey tomatoes.

The types of tomatoes grown in New Jersey are chosen for their taste, not how well they travel. Jersey tomatoes are picked by hand when they are ripe and juicy. They are sold at nearby local markets where customers can buy them and eat them immediately. Tomato harvest at Duffield’s Farm, Sewell, NJ;

There are hundreds of types or of tomatoes. They can be large like a beefsteak tomato or small like a cherry tomato, and they come in many colors: red, pink, orange, yellow, golden, white, black, and striped.

Why did t he tomato tu rn red

? Because the sala it saw d dressi ng!



Lycopene Vitamin A Vitamin C Vitamin K

Tomatoes are full of vitamin A, which keeps your eyes healthy, and vitamins C and K. They also contain the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene.

BELL pEPPERS I -lieve I hear a bell telling me it’s time to talk about peppers! Bell peppers, that is! New Jersey ranks third in the country for growing bell peppers. These are the sweet peppers that are shaped like a bell and are usually green, red, or yellow.

Bell peppers also can be orange, white, brown, and purple. Peppers -come sweeter and milder as they ripen. Many peppers start out green and change color in the field as they ripen.

Small pepper plants growing in a field. The black plastic around them keeps weeds from growing.

Bell peppers are grown all over New Jersey, but most come from Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Atlantic counties in the southern part of the state.

Like tomatoes, most bell peppers are planted first in a greenhouse when it is too cold for them to grow outdoors. They are transplanted into the field when the weather warms in May. Farmers pick bell peppers by hand. Bell peppers are often called “sweet� peppers -cause of their sweet taste. They are related to what we call “hot� peppers or “chili� peppers, but they do not produce a substance Pepper plants at Duffield’s Farm, Sewell, NJ; called . Capsaicin is the stuff that will make your mouth feel like it’s on fire. Without capsaicin, bell peppers taste sweet, not spicy.

Why does the pepper that is in the shaker beside your salt have the same name as a bell pepper? Here’s the story. When Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492, the king and queen of Spain asked him to bring back pepper from India. At that time, black pepper that grew on vines in India was a very popular spice and also very expensive. When Columbus landed in the Caribbean islands instead of India, he found the native Can you find the green and red peppers growing on this plant? people eating a new food – the hot pepper. He took this spicy vegetable back to Spain as a replacement for the expensive spice from India. This new vegetable quickly became very popular and was also called pepper.

Where do vegetables go when they are sick?

The pepper harvest at The Original Columbus Farm and Market in Florence, NJ;


Bel Pepper

Vitamin A

Vitamin B6 Vitamin C Bell peppers are an excellent source of the vitamins A, C and B6, which helps keep your blood and your brain healthy.


r. Pe To see D

Peaches Peaches at at Fralinger Fralinger Orchards, Orchards, Bridgeton, Bridgeton, NJ; NJ;

-low. This is called the “chilling time.� The trees must have this time to chill chill out out -fore fore making fruit again! New Jersey winters are cold enough to allow for this chilling rest, but the spring weather is usually not so cold that it will kill the fragile peach flower buds.

There is a lot of work that goes into growing peaches, and most of it must be done by hand. The trees must be pruned by skilled workers in the spring to thin out branches Flowering peach trees at Circle M Farms, Salem, NJ; and remove many of the buds. A healthy peach tree may produce 10,000 flowers. Farmers must remove all but 1,000 of those flowers flowers so so they they will will have have room room to to turn turn into into healthy, healthy, large large peaches. peaches. When When those the peaches peaches are are ripe, ripe, they they also also must must be be picked picked by by hand. hand. the The big stone or in the middle of a peach is the seed. But to grow a new peach tree, farmers don’t just plant the seeds. Farmers want to grow trees that have the juiciest and largest fruit and that can survive bad weather, disease, and insect attacks. So most new fruits are grown with a process called .

Harvesting peaches by hand at Duffield’s Farm, Sewell, NJ;


soaking up too much water, which would make it rot. Others think the fuzz protects peaches from insects who don’t like to walk over the rough skin.

Fiber Vitamin A

Some people don’t like the ticklish feel of peach fuzz. Those people can eat nectarines, which are a type of peach with smooth skin. New Jersey peaches are sold fresh all over the eastern part of the United States and in Canada.

Vitamin C Peaches are packed with vitamins A and C. They also provide fiber that helps you digest your food.

ear the Did you h the t joke abou peach?

It was pit-iful!

cranberries -sides blueberries, the Pine Barrens are also home to cranberry farms. New Jersey ranks third in the country -hind Massachusetts and Wisconsin for producing cranberries.

Do you think the cranberry flower looks like a crane? Early settlers called this fruit “craneberries.� Pine Island Cranberry Farm, Chatsworth, NJ;

Cranberries grow on vines in an area of soft, wet, swampy ground called a . Cranberries are a tart fruit. They have a sharp taste that is not as sweet as other fruits. That’s why cranberries are rarely eaten raw. They are usually mixed with sugar into cranberry juice or cranberry sauce, or or dried with sugar added.

Early American settlers called this round, red fruit “craneberry� -cause they thought the plant’s flowers looked like a crane. A crane is a bird with a long neck and long legs that searches for food by wading in rivers and ponds. The name was later shortened to cranberry. Cranberries float! Each cranberry has four small pockets of air inside so it can float, just like the tube you fill with air to float on in a swimming pool. When it’s time to harvest the cranberries, farmers flood the bogs with water. They use a machine called a water reel -- its nickname is “the eggbeater� -- to churn the water and pull the cranberries off the vines.

Farmers use a machine nicknamed “the eggbeater� to knock the berries from the flooded cranberry plants. Pine Island Cranberry Farm, Chatsworth, NJ;

The berries float to the surface. Farmers wade into the bogs and gather the cranberries together with floating booms. The berries are then lifted or pumped into trucks.

Ripe cranberries bounce! Farmers remove unripe cranberries from ripe cranberries by bouncing them on a machine called a separator or “bounce board.� The ripe cranberries bounce down the machine. This machine was invented in the 1840s by John Harvested cranberries are poured into a bin for cleaning. Blowers dry the cranberries and remove the leaves. “Peg Leg� Webb, New Jersey’s first cranberry Pine Island Cranberry Farm, Chatswoth, NJ ; farmer. John stored his cranberries on the second floor of his barn. Because he had a wooden leg, John could not carry the barrels of cranberries down the stairs. So, he spilled the cranberries down his barn stairs instead. John noticed that the ripe berries bounced down the stairs and the unripe cranberries stayed at the top. Cranberry sauce was invented by a New Jersey farmer named Elizabeth Lee in 1917.

Farmers wade into the flooded cranberry bog and gather the cranberries with a floating boom. Lee Brothers, Inc. cranberry farm, Chatsworth, NJ;



Antioxid ants Fiber Manganese

Vitamin C

Cranberries contain many disease-fighting antioxidants and are an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese, which is a mineral essential for growth and metabolism (breaking down foods for energy).

What’s the difference between a pirate and a cranberry farmer?

A pirate buries his treasure, but a cranberry farmer treasures his berries.

sweet corn

Look out -low, I see fireworks! No Fourth of July picnic in New Jersey would be the same without sweet corn on the cob! New Jersey farmers harvest about 60 million pounds of sweet corn each year. Salem, Burlington, and Gloucester are the three counties that grow the most sweet corn. People use many unusual words when they talk about corn. The seeds are called . They are attached to a long, round, woody . A typical cob can hold 800 corn kernels. We call a corn cob with the seeds attached an of corn. The corn seeds or kernels are protected by a leafy covering called a . To eat the seeds, you must remove the husk. When you remove the husk, you the corn. So if your mom tells you to get the corn ready to eat, you can say, “Aww, shucks!�

Sweet corn can be be white, yellow, or “bi-color� -- a mix of white and yellow. Unlike most vegetables, corn is not pollinated by bees or other insects. Corn is a grass plant that is pollinated by the wind. A corn plant has male and female parts. The male part, called the tassel, grows up from the very top of the plant and looks like a little tree with branches that are covered by sticky pollen.

The tassels at the top are the male parts of the corn plant. The silks in the middle are the female parts. Spring Brook Farms, Elmer, NJ;

An ear of corn is actually the flower, and the corn’s female parts are the silky strands you can see growing out of the ears. In order for the plant to be

pollinated and produce corn kernels, the wind must blow pollen from the tassels at the top of the plant onto the silks in the ears. To get a corn cob full of kernels, each individual silk needs to be pollinated with pollen from the tassel. Some farmers first plant sweet corn seeds in their fields in late March. They then cover the seeds in plastic Some farmers pick sweet corn by hand. to protect the tiny plants from the Duffield’s Farm, Sewell, NJ; cold. Other farmers plant a cool-weather variety of sweet corn in April. This is the corn that is ready to eat by the Fourth of July. After that, farmers plant more corn seeds every week, so that sweet corn on the cob is available to eat into the fall. This is called planting. Some farmers harvest sweet corn by hand and some harvest the corn with a machine that strips the ears of corn from the plant. Sweet corn is different from field corn. Sweet corn is harvested when the kernels are soft, making them perfect for people to eat. Field corn is harvested later, when the kernels are dry and hard. This corn is fed to cows, chickens, pigs, and turkeys.


er ld you nev Why shou in a corn tell secrets field?

Because there are ears all around!

Sweet Corn

Fiber Lutein Zeaxanthin

Sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. A medium-sized ear of corn also offers a helpful threegram dose of dietary fiber.


Did you ever eat something made from soybeans? You may not know it, but I -lieve the answer is yes! Soybeans are packed with protein, more than any other bean. -- people who do not eat meat – often eat soy for protein. Soybeans are frequently made into a dish that looks like soft cheese called , but they are also made into milk, flour, oil, and sauce. You can find soy in salad dressings, candy bars, frozen food, soup, crackers, hot dogs, and cereals. Raw soybeans are called . Soybeans are one of New Jersey’s top crops and are grown all over the state. Most of the state’s soybean crop is shipped Soybeans;

out of New Jersey to be made into many different food products. Soybeans are also made into meal that is fed to chickens, pigs, and cows. Soy is used to make shampoo, skin cream and makeup, candles, crayons, and household cleaners, as well as printing ink. Soybeans and all other beans are a type of plant called a . The word is pronounced lay-goom. Lentils, peas, and peanuts are also legumes. One of the most important nutrients for plants is called A field of soybeans at Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ;

. There is a lot of nitrogen in the air around us, but most plants cannot get nitrogen from the air. Most plants must get nitrogen from the soil through their roots. Legumes like soybeans are special -cause only legumes can capture the nitrogen in the air and then put it into the soil, where other plants can use it to grow strong.

Before they are ripe, soybeans in the pod are green.

Farmers have learned to switch their crops from year to year to keep their soil rich with nitrogen. If one year they plant a crop like tomatoes, which soak up a lot of nitrogen from the soil, the next year they will plant legumes like soybeans that put nitrogen back in the soil. This is called .

In New Jersey, farmers plant soybeans from April until the end of June. The soybeans are then harvested -tween September and November. When the soybeans are ready to harvest, the leaves turn from green to golden yellow and then brown. The soybean pods also turn brown as they slowly dry out. Farmers know the beans are ready to harvest when they shake a pod and the beans inside rattle! A combine harvesting a field of soybeans. Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ;

Bean a long time since I’ve seen you!

Soybeans are harvested by large machines called combines. Big teeth in the front of the machines cut down the plants. A threshing drum inside the combine shakes the plants until the soybeans break out of the pods. Name:

Knock Knock! Bean!

A field of ripe soybeans at Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ;

Who’s there?

Bean who?


Protein Protein Protein! Protein is a nutrient that is required for the growth and repair of many body structures, including muscle, skin, blood, and bones.


Next we are going to make a -line to a field of squash, another big New Jersey crop. There are two types of squash: summer squash and winter squash.

Summer squash has a soft outer skin. Zucchini, a green vegetable, is the most popular summer squash grown in New Jersey. Yellow summer squash is also grown here. Farmers first plant summer squash in early May, and then they plant more every two weeks through the middle of August. It takes about two months for summer squash to grow and ripen.

Yellow summer squash and zucchini.

Winter squash has a hard shell. This squash needs more time to grow than summer squash, and it is harvested in the fall when the cool weather sets in. Winter squash comes in many colors, including yellow, tan, blue, white, green, and orange. Three types of winter squash are the most popular in New Jersey. Butternut squash, which is tan and shaped like a bell, is the favorite, followed by green acorn squash and yellow spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash -comes stringy when cooked, and you can twirl it on your spoon, like pasta.

Here are the three most popular New Jersey winter squash: yellow spaghetti squash, tan butternut squash, and green acorn squash.

Squash grows under large leaves on vines that spread out all over! These plants need a lot of space, so the seeds are planted three to six feet apart.

Zoo-chini le What vegetab k o likes to lo at animals?

Most flowers have both male and female parts, but squash flowers are different. Squash have flowers that are either male or female. These separate male and female flowers are called flowers. You can tell male and female squash flowers apart easily because the female flower has a tiny fruit beneath it. The male flower just has a stem. Pollination is trickier for plants with imperfect flowers, because for pollination to happen, a bee or other insect must first stop on the male flower and pick up the pollen. Then that same insect must stop on a female flower and release the pollen.

A male squash flower is on the left and the female squash flower is on the right. Can you see the difference?

The word squash comes from the Native American word askutasquash (ah-skoot-ah-skwosh) which means “a green thing eaten raw.� Pumpkins are a winter squash grown all over New Jersey, but Notice the big leaves on the squash plants. they are counted as a separate crop. New Jersey farmers plant about 2,000 acres of pumpkins every year. Many farms offer families rides to pumpkin fields to pick their own pumpkins. On weekends in October, you will see people lined up to climb aboard hay wagons pulled by tractors bound for the pumpkin patch. Name:


Vitamin C Squash are filled with many antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Pumpkins at James Durr Wholesale Florist, Chesterfeld, NJ;


Look -neath those big leaves, and what do you see? Cucumbers! New Jersey ranks fourth in cucumber production in the entire United States. One out of every 10 cucumbers that Americans eat are grown in New Jersey. New Jersey farmers grow about 58 million pounds of cucumbers each year on 3,100 acres of farmland. Nearly half of New Jersey cucumbers are grown in Gloucester County. The rest are grown in Atlantic, Cumberland, and Salem counties. Usually cucumbers are green, but there also is a yellow variety.

and be ready to eat.

Farmers plant their first cucumber seeds in a greenhouse and transplant the seedlings into their fields in May. After that, they will plant more cucumber seeds directly into the fields. It takes about two months for cucumbers to grow. Cucumbers grow on long, tangled vines that take up a lot of space. Fresh-picked cucumbers are prickly – some varieties have hairs on their skin and some even have little spikes. These likely protect the cucumbers from insects. Most of the prickles can either be washed or brushed off easily.

Have you ever heard the expression “cool as a cucumber?� It describes someone who stays calm and relaxed in a difficult situation. But “cool as a cucumber� is a scientific fact. Cucumbers are made up almost entirely – 96% -- of water, so even on a hot summer day, the inside of a cucumber can be 20 degrees cooler than the outside air! Did you know that pickles are made from cucumbers?



! Water Water! Water!

The large amount of water in cucumbers will keep you hydrated and flush harmful toxins from your body.

e What did th say to cucumber the celery?

Quit stalking m



-tween the winter and the summer, what do New Jersey farmers grow? Spinach! New Jersey is the second largest grower of this leafy veggie in the United States. The yearly spinach crop in the state is worth more than $10 million. Spinach is a cool-season vegetable. That means it does not like the hot weather. Spinach grows best when temperatures range between 60°F and 65°F. Spinach seeds won’t sprout if it gets too hot. That’s why in New Jersey, spinach is planted in early April and harvested in June. It can be planted again in September and harvested in early November. We eat the leaves of the spinach plant, so spinach is harvested -fore the plant completes its life cycle. When a spinach plant grows flowers A spinach field at Spring Brook Farms, Elmer, NJ; and seeds, it looks very different than the bunch of leaves that is picked to eat. Near the end of its life cycle, spinach goes through a process we call . The plants quickly begin to grow taller. Then a stalk shoots up from the leaves, and flowers grow on top of the stalk. The flowers bloom, are pollinated, and produce seeds.

Flowers at the top of the spinach plant mean that it has bolted and is near the end of its life cycle.

Don’t eat the leaves of spinach after it starts to bolt. They will be very bitter.

We call spinach a “leafy green� vegetable. All leafy green vegetables are good for you, but leaves that are darker in color contain more vitamins and minerals than pale-colored leaves. Spinach with its dark green leaves is a particularly healthy food choice!



Calcium Fiber Iron Magnesium Potassium Vitamin A B Vitamins Vitamin C Vitamin E Vitamin K

le What vegetab ? loves to dance


Spinach is known as one of the most nutritious fo ods. It is an excellent source of many vitamins, minerals, and an tioxidants, as wel l as dietary fiber. Th e B-vitamins in spinach work toge ther to help with growth and metab olism in your body. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protec t you from diseases. Calcium and magnesium are needed for he althy bones and teeth and help ke ep your muscles and nervous syst em healthy. Potassium helps move and balanc e fluids in your body , and iron helps move oxygen to keep your blood and muscles heal thy.


Honey, I’m home! At last, I shall -dazzle you with what I think is the most important part of farming – bees! -fore a tomato, sweet pepper, or blueberry can grow, their flowers must be pollinated by an insect like me! Pollination happens when pollen grains in flowers are transferred from the stamen (male part) to the pistil (female part). These are the parts that stick up in the middle of a Bees on a hive. flower. Without pollination, plants will not produce fruit or seeds. Honey bees and other insect pollinators fly from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. The pollen of one flower sticks to the hairs on an insect’s legs. Then when the insect flies to another flower, the pollen falls off onto that flower. And you have pollination! Although honey bees are the official state insect of New Jersey, the honey bee is not native to New Jersey. I am actually a European honey bee. Settlers from Europe brought honey bee hives to America about 400 years ago.

Bees in a hive on Abma’s Farm, Wyckoff, NJ;

Beekeepers in New Jersey take care of 20,000 hives. Each hive holds a colony of bees. A hive is a house for a bee, and the colony is the family of bees that lives inside.

Bee hives are much more crowded than your house, however, as each hive contains 30,000 to 60,000 bees. Those bees are working hard to produce honey to feed the hive. Twelve worker bees work their entire lives to produce just one teaspoon of honey. The bees produce so much honey, that there is

plenty for the bees to eat and plenty left over for beekeepers to sell to people to put on their toast and in their tea! New Jersey beekeepers move their hives from farm to farm when the fruit and vegetable plants are flowering. Usually, the hives will stay on a farm for six weeks to pollinate a crop. Honey place the bee hives near fields that need to be pollinated. bees fly back to their hives for the night, Beekeepers and that is when beekeepers load the hives on trucks to move to the next farm.

Beekeepers use smoke to keep the bees calm when their hives are moved from farm to farm.

Some bees have a special job to guard their hives. Bees that guard a hive signal danger to the other bees with a smell. They release a chemical from their bodies and the smell of that chemical is the danger alarm for other bees. But smoke covers up the smell of this danger signal, so beekeepers use smoke to keep bees calm while they are moving the bee hives or working with the bees.

New Jersey’s blueberry and cranberry farms need the most bees for pollination. It takes 18,000 hives just to pollinate the state’s blueberry fields. e Why did th arried? bee get m

Because she found her honey.

All bees return to their hives at night. That’s when beekeepers will load the hives onto trucks to move to another farm.

Farm Machines -hind all New Jersey farmers, there are machines that help them grow their crops. The tractor is the most important machine on every farm. It pulls the equipment that turns over the soil and prepares it for planting. It pulls the seed drill that plants seeds in straight lines. Round discs pulled by this tractor are turning over the soil to get ready for planting. Abma’s Farm, Wyckoff, NJ;

This tractor is pulling a seed drilling machine that plants 15 straight rows of spinach seeds at one time. Spring Brook Farms, Elmer, NJ;

Many vegetables grown in New Jersey are planted first in greenhouses when the weather is too cold for them to survive outdoors. When the weather warms up, farmers transplant the small seedlings into their fields.

A tractor is used to pull the seedling planter. Two people ride the planter and place the seedlings in rows in the soil. Tractors are also used to pull wagons that bring the harvested vegetables from the fields.

A seedling planter at Abma’s Farm, Wyckoff, NJ;

The fruits and vegetables grown in New Jersey are often harvested by hand, but for some crops, a large machine called a combine harvester is used. The combine shown on this page is harvesting soybeans. First, the machine’s sharp front teeth cut down the soybean plants. The plants are then fed into a threshing drum, which shakes them to remove the beans from the A combine harvesting soybeans at Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ; soybean pods. The pods are collected in a tank. When the tank is full, an elevator takes the soybeans up to a chute, which drops them into a truck. Of course, you know that plants need lots of water. When summers in New Jersey become very hot and dry, farmers need to water their crops just like you may need to water plants around your house. To do this, farmers set up long pipes that bring water to the fields. This is called

A line of irrigation pipes on a field of Christmas trees at Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ;

A wagon full of hay at Abma’s Farm, Wyckoff, NJ;

Irrigation makes a rainbow at Simonson Farms, Cranbury, NJ;

LET’S FIND NEW JERSEY FRUITS AND VEGGIES! -sides these top 10 fruits and vegetables, New Jersey farmers grow many others. Farmers here also grow cantaloupes, watermelons, cherries, apples, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, carrots, and potatoes, to name a few. New Jersey fruits and vegetables are great to eat and easy to find! Some New Jersey farmers sell their fruits and vegetables at their own stores right on the farm. These stores are fun to visit -cause you can see the work -ing done right on the farm.

Duffield’s Farm Market, Sewell, NJ;

Other farms will sell fruits and vegetables at stands by the side of the road, making it easy for customers to pull over their cars and buy fresh produce. At some farms you and your family can go into the fields and pick your own fruits and vegetables. You can find farms where you can pick your own apples, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkins! And the produce you pick will cost less, -cause you are doing the harvesting work for the farmer. (picture needed here) Farm stand at Bodine Farm, Stockton, NJ.

Farmers also sell their fruits and vegetables at New Jersey community farmers markets. They pack their ( ) into trucks and bring it to towns to sell. If you visit a farmers market near your town, you will find farmers from many different farms selling their fruits and vegetables, as well as eggs, honey, flowers, chicken, and beef. Many grocery stores also sell local New Jersey fruits and vegetables. Look for the sign that says Jersey Fresh, and you know you will be eating produce grown right here in New Jersey.

Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market, Flemington, NJ;

Would you like to visit a farm store or farmers market near your home? The website will show you where to go! Picking green beans at Giamerese Farm and Orchards, East Brunswick, NJ;

Many farms host fun events that allow families to visit and see how food is grown. Visitors may wander through a corn maze, ride in a hay wagon, or pet Riding the corn train at Etsch Farms in Monroe Township, NJ. farm animals. These visitors are touring the farm, so when farms hold events open to the public, it is called . I hope you enjoyed our visit to -utiful New Jersey farm country! good to yourself and eat some delicious and nutritious New Jersey fruits and vegetables today!

The publication of was made possible with funding from: United States and New Jersey Departments of Agriculture New Jersey Agricultural Society New Jersey Farm Bureau New Jersey Soybean Board About the author: Carolyn Taylor is the director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s school garden grant program. She is a certified Master Gardener and received the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Hunterdon County Award of Excellence in 2018 for her work with children’s gardening programs. She is a former elementary school teacher, editor, and journalist. As director, Ms. Taylor provides support to teachers in the program. She guides teachers in the building and maintenance of school vegetable gardens, leads school garden workshops, and creates curriculum designed to help PreK-5 teachers integrate gardening into their everyday lessons in all subjects. About the artist: Lauren Theis is the director of education at Raritan Headwaters, a non-profit water conservation organization, where she leads school programs, field trips, and nature day camps. She is also a graphic designer, visual artist, and yoga instructor. Ms. Theis is a contributor to Edible Jersey (Edible Jersey Kids) and a volunteer at the Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers’ Market, where she draws the weekly chalkboard.

The New Jersey Agricultural Society, publisher of , is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about New Jersey agriculture. Established in 1781, the New Jersey Agricultural Society is the oldest agricultural organization of its type in the nation. It currently has more than 400 members. You can learn more about the society on its website:

The New Jersey Agricultural Society sponsors these programs: collects surplus fresh produce from New Jersey farms, grocery stores, and wholesale suppliers and distributes this food to those in need through local hunger relief organizations. Community volunteers are recruited to harvest excess produce from farm fields throughout the state. This is called . If your school or organization is interested in participating in a gleaning, go to for more information. gives grants to schools to build vegetable gardens and trains teachers to use the gardens as outdoor classrooms. School gardens are a vital way to show children where their food comes from, how plants grow, and that fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy diet. Every school should have a garden. The program offers a curriculum that includes basic gardening lessons as well as lessons connecting the garden to language arts, math, science, and social studies. This curriculum and information on applying for a garden grant is available to everyone on the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s website:

Did you eat some fruits and veggies today?

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