One of the few silver linings of the 2020 pandemic year was a new appreciation for the quality and accessibility of Central Jersey’s locally grown food and locally made beer, wine, ciders, and more. As we happily turn the page to 2021, consider this New Year’s resolution:
I will commit to regularly patronizing local farms, wineries, breweries, and distillers, from now on!
The pay-off will be better and healthier food and drink for your family, made with fewer chemicals. In addition, you’ll be helping to support local, family businesses that have struggled to get through an economic and health crisis of historic proportions.
Not sure where to buy local food and drink during these winter months? We’ve got you covered! Many of them offer online ordering and delivery, while others provide enjoyable excursions to bucolic farm and winery settings. Read on to learn about some of our favorites, in reverse alphabetical order. Click on the links to learn more!
UNIONVILLE VINEYARDS: Pictured above, Unionville manages and sources grapes from five vineyard sites across Central Jersey, including at their picturesque headquarters in Ringoes. Named one of the top 500 wineries in the United State by FOOD&WINE Magazine, they recently receive a 90-point rating from the Cork Report for their Cabernet Franc. The tasting room is open Thursday to Monday by appointment, so call first.
TERHUNE ORCHARDS is Central Jersey’s “agritourism” leader and has lots of fresh produce year-round. 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 delivery within 10 miles.
OLD YORK CELLARS: Old York Cellars offers a wide range of wines, including some beautiful wood gift boxes. A particularly handsome (and delicious) choice is the charitable Preservation Wine series with watercolor paintings by James Fiorentino celebrating preserved lands in Central Jersey, including the Sourlands, Goat Hill, and St. Michaels Farm Preserve. One-third of the purchase price goes to D&R Greenway Land Trust to help preserve and protect natural areas.
NORZ-HILL FARM is on the western side of Hillsborough Township has dramatically expanded its retail operation since the pandemic. During the winter months, visit the Egg Shed to purchase eggs on the honor system any time of day, or stop by Saturdays from 10 AM to 2 PM to purchase farm-raised beef and pork. Norz-Hill’s beef and pork animals are raised humanely, without artificial growth hormones and all-natural feed, hay, and okra.
HOPEWELL VALLEY VINEYARDS – Owned by a couple hailing from Italy and Greece, Hopewell Valley Vineyards offers a distinctly European style of winemaking, complete with Sangiovese, Barbera, Vidal Blanc, and Spumante Secco wines. In light of the health crisis, the winery has increased its focus on wine available for online purchase and pick up or delivery. Locals can also take advantage of gourmet take-out, including brick oven pizza, salads, and desserts.
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. During the winter months they are open just Saturdays, 10-4 PM. 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 on 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. 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 all year.
DOGWOOD FARMS: At their new location in Liberty Corner, Dogwood Farms’s antique barn is open for shopping Saturdays and Sundays 10 AM – 4 PM throughout the winter months. They offer organic meats, poultry, cheeses, vegetables, and more. Their online store offers delicious gift boxes for delivery or pick-up, such Pasta Night Box, Brunch in a Box, and Hot Sauce Box featuring Bloody Mary mix, pasta sauces, and salsas made with Dogwood’s organically grown tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
CHERRY GROVE FARM is best known for cheeses, grass-fed beef, and whey-fed pork along Route 206 in Lawrence. They have a wide variety of locally made food products in a store open in winter 6 days per week (closed Tuesdays). Inquire about free delivery.
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. The store is currently open for shopping, and they offering online grocery shopping for pick-up or delivery, and online café orders.
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.
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. Let’s do our part and love them back!