The Farmer in the Dell (a.k.a. New Jersey)

November 6th, 2009

On a recent and chilly Sunday morning, I joined my fellow farmers’ market volunteers for a field trip. We didn’t head to the museum, or to a matinee. Instead, we literally took to the fields, and visited two of our market farms.

Now, I’ve been to a farm before. I’ve picked my own strawberries; I’ve played with sheep; I’ve even pressed my own apple cider. But somehow, this was different. This time I walked through the fields, and picked the majority of my Sunday dinner from the ground.

It may sound silly to say, but sometimes we get so used to the convenience of buying a pack of spring mix in the store, that we don’t really think of where it comes from. In fact, when our group arrived at the “field of greens” and saw the spread of multi-colored greens before us, almost all of us simultaneously exclaimed, “it actually grows like that?!”

mixed greens

Initially, I was expecting our hosts to bore of explaining how farms work. After all, while it may be a foreign concept to a group of suburban volunteers, this is their everyday life. But, they could not have been more gracious, proud, and genuinely excited to explain every possible detail.

basil field

As “Farmer Flaim” drove us through the fields, we stopped periodically to smell rows of dill, cilantro and basil, or to pick fresh eggplants – traditional, Italian and mini. (Have you ever seen the flower an eggplant grows from? It’s beautiful!) By sight alone, he knew whether fennel, radishes or Swiss chard were ready or not. While, to the rest of us, it all looked the same.

kevin picking radishes

We also visited a flower farm known for sunflowers and gladiolas. Again, the sight of rows of gladiolas in the ground, instead of in a vase, was almost shocking.

field of gladiolas

At the end of the day, our hosts sent us home with three cars filled with fresh produce and flowers, more than our small group could possibly eat. Carrots, cabbage, dill, radicchio and sunflowers – oh my! At home, we shared it with friends, family and neighbors. And let me tell you, hubby and I ate extraordinarily well that week – feasting on salads, potato and leek soup, marinated fennel, and dill new potatoes. Delish!

a full trunk of garden vegetables

Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey Produce

Working in the food industry, I get to travel to a number of manufacturing facilities, and I LOVE to learn how my favorite products are made. I truly enjoy seeing the assembly lines and how the containers are filled. (Makes me sound like a bit of a dork, eh?) But once in a while, it’s pretty cool to see where it all begins.

Thank you to Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey!!

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