Norz-Hill Farm (above) offers personal shoppers in an open-air tent.  

Since the start of New Jersey’s stay-at-home order for the pandemic, on-farm markets have remained open as essential services. That’s great news because our local farmers are a valuable resource during a crisis—and ready to nourish you with fresh, healthy vegetables, dairy, poultry, and meat.  We are still the Garden State, after all, with considerable capacity to feed our local population.

Many new customers are discovering these farms not only for the appeal of healthy, local food, but also because the retail experience usually involves smaller, well ventilated stores. Some farms stores offer curbside pick-up, and some even deliver.

It’s easy to have overlooked the rebound in on-farm markets in Central Jersey, because they are located away from our main retail corridors, but they are worth regular trips, not only for high quality food and beverage products, but also for scenic drives and fresh-air farm visits, as permitted under current executive orders—so long as you maintain “social distance.”

Local farms, restaurants, and beverage makers recently have been working together to get the word out, through the Discover Central New Jersey agritourism initiative. (Click on BOLDFACED name to access farm websites.)

Reuwai, Pam and Tannwen Mount, owners of Terhune Orchards.

TERHUNE ORCHARDS is one of the best known of these farms, having served the area for four decades from its location between Princeton, Hopewell, and Lawrence. Owner Pam Mount says the farm has met the state’s highest food handling safety requirements and has “doubled-down on cleaning and removing all health hazards.” They have a short video describing options for shopping in-store, by phone, or online with “porch-side pickup” or delivery.  Open daily, the store offers their own apples, lettuce, cider, herbs, Terhune wine, and baked goods, plus a full line of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and milk from other farms. Amid the pandemic, they accept online and phone orders with on-farm pick-up or deliver within 10 miles.

BOBOLINK DAIRY & BAKEHOUSE in Milford near the Delaware River is renowned for a unique, Central Jersey approach to cheesemaking, grass-fed beef and whey-fed pork. They bake distinctive breads with regional grains and the farm store carries house-made charcuterie; eggs from their own cage-free, soy-free chickens; fresh 100% grass-fed milk, cream, and butter. Since the health crisis, they encourage advance phone and orders online for delivery to your car. They also have a program of free delivery on orders of $50 or more, with 2 days’ notice and within 20 minutes. Open daily except Tuesday.

BRICK FARM MARKET is a leader in the local food movement and has a popular farm market featuring pastured meats and eggs from their own Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, and a large selection of produce, sundries, cheese, juices, milk, butter and cream from area farms and purveyors. They also have an in-house bakery making daily breads and sweets. During the pandemic, they are offering three ways to shop: 1) online grocery shopping for pick-up or deliver; 2) online café orders of coffee, juice and prepared foods for pick-up; 3) a walkup outdoor mini-market Tues.-Sunday 10 – 5pm.

The counter at Brick Farm Market are available with social distancing.

CHERRY GROVE FARM is best known for cheeses, grass-fed beef, and whey-fed pork. They have a wide variety of locally made food products in a store open 7 days per week, 10-5pm, off Route 206 in Lawrenceville. Because of the health crisis, no more than 5 people are allowed in the store at once, to maintain social distance.  Cherry Grove is offering free delivery (orders of $60+) on Wednesdays and Fridays (orders by noon the day prior) within a 30-minute drive of the farm.

GRIGGSTOWN FARM MARKET has a Princeton postal address but is in Franklin Township. They are best known for their own poultry and prepared foods, including Griggstown’s famous chicken and turkey pot pies.  Almost any visit to the store involves a drive along the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway and the D&R Canal State Park, where tow-path strolls are permitted during the shutdown.  In addition to farm-made fruit pies, pot pies, chicken sausages, chicken salad, stuffed ravioli, and breads, they also carry produce and dairy from nearby farms. They are open 7 days per week.

HIDDEN SPRING LAVENDER – This on-farm market is in the Skillman section of Montgomery, offering culinary lavender, tea, and honey, plus a wide range of lavender lotions, creams, perfumes, and plush toys. The store has expanded hours to every Saturday and Sunday, 10-4pm. No more than five people are allowed in the store at one time, masks required, and they offer a curb-side pickup if you pre-order online.  Visit the alpacas while you’re on the farm.

HILLSBORO FARM COUNTRY MARKET – Located close to Route 206 and reopened for the season in April, the store offers a wide variety of Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, fresh baked and preserved goods. The store has instituted extensive precautions to protect customers and staff from the coronavirus. Masks required, social distance required, one-way aisles and separate entrance/exit.  Special at-risk/senior shopping from 10-11 AM weekdays followed by regular shopping until 5pm. Closed Mondays.

NORZ-HILL FARM is on the western side of Hillsborough Township has dramatically expanded its retail operation since the pandemic with a huge open-air tent and personal shoppers helping you find Jersey Fresh and farm grown meat and produce with minimum handling. After Memorial Day, Norz-Hill hours expanded to M-F noon- 5pm, Sat. 10-4, Sun. noon-4.  Norz-Hill’s beef and pork animals are raised humanely, without artificial growth hormones and all-natural feed, hay, and okra.

Suydam Farms greenhouse for retail

SKILLMAN FARM MARKET’S butcher shop in Montgomery sells organic, pasture-raised beef, pork, and poultry.  During the health crisis, they have closed the store itself to the public and converted to phone orders (609-300-3350) and driveway pick-ups only. Usually open Wednesday through Sunday, but hours subject to change.

SNYDERS FARM in Somerset start its U-pick strawberries on weekends in late May or early June, with special arrangements for social distancing. A popular open-air roadside stand with a wide variety of local produce opens daily in early July.

SUYDAM FARM in Somerset has opened its large greenhouse just off Route 27 for the season, offering farm-raised meat, Jersey Fresh produce, and nursery plants. Open Saturdays and Sundays, 8 AM to 5 PM, visitors can walk around the barns and see live animals including cows, pigs, and chickens. Farm is now managed by the 12th generation of Suydams.

Von Thun Farm Store in South Brunswick

VON THUN FARMS in South Brunswick is available for both on-farm shopping as well as online pre-order and pick-up through its impressive online store. Open daily after May 1, they offer fresh-picked homegrown fruits and vegetables, homegrown grassfed beef and eggs, local honey, jams, jellies and dressings, apple cider, homemade apple cider donuts, fresh baked pies and more.

For wholesome, perishable vegetables, dairy, and meat, nothing beats Central Jersey farms. Their markets are small, generally uncrowded, and naturally ventilated. If you want to avoid supermarkets, consider pairing regular trips to these on-farm markets with online shopping for non-perishable staples. Because circumstances can change quickly, you may wish to call ahead before heading out.

Throughout most of American history, the farms of New Jersey played a crucial role. In the 1700s, New Jersey’s farms fed George Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War; in the 1800s, New Jersey served as the breadbasket to the rising New York metropolis; in the 1900s New Jersey played a key role in feeding wartime America.

Today, farmers of the Garden State are called again to serve us during a time of crisis.

Click on map to explore Central Jersey’s Canal Region