NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—For the past four years, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Rutgers University have teamed up to provide the New Brunswick community with a local farmer's market located at Jones Avenue and Georges Road.
The New Brunswick Community Farmer's Market, a seasonal operation based near the Cook campus of Rutgers, regularly open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am-3pm. This past Saturday, they stayed open until 5pm.
The produce at the market is provided by Pop's Farm Market & Garden Center, located on Route 130 in Monroe Township, NJ. Pop's has been operating since the 1920's. The current owner of Pop's is Dave Byrne, grandson to the original "Pop."
The produce has very low levels of pesticides, and J&J sponsors a program that honors twice the value of both WIC checks and Senior Citizen Vouchers in an effort to give back to the community.
J&J gives the grant to Pop's, while Rutgers supervises the entire process. In addition to the farmer's market being offered twice weekly, Pop's is also given a grant by J&J to provide produce to Elijah's Promise, the city's only soup kitchen.
The market offers also offers pure honey from Zenjas Honey Farms, based in Long Branch with hives on the Pop's farm as well. Zenjas also offers preserves, pasta sauces, hot sauces, fudge for ice cream, jellies, pickles, pickled vegetables, fruit, and more.
In addition to the items from Pop's, the market gives the Rutgers University Cook Campus Farm an opportunity to sell their meat. The Cook Campus farm is run by Clint Burgher, the farm director. According to Rutgers University student and Cook Campus farmhand Michael Skalski, what started out as a class project has evolved into a way for the farm to raise money.
The animals are used for research and the rest is sent to the butcher. While the cows are corn fed, as opposed to grass fed, there are no growth hormones added to their diet. The community is welcome to visit the farm and see how the animals are being raised and treated, says Skalski.
Skalski added that many tourists visit the farm during the week. Representatives from the Cook Campus farm can be found every Thursday at the New Brunswick Community Farmer's Market.
While often available on Saturdays, their availability at the market on Saturdays is dependent on the schedule of the farm. Every Friday, representatives of the Cook Campus Farm can be found at the farmer's market at Rutgers Gardens on Ryders Lane. Any other time, meat is available for pickup directly at the farm.
The meats offered by the Cook Campus Farm include pork, beef, chicken, goat, and lamb depending on the season. The meats are sold as sausages, smoked meats, chops, steaks, roasts. Specialty items such as liver, kidney, or heart are also available sometimes.
While the Cook Campus Farm does not yet offer the double WIC checks or double Senior Citizen vouchers, it is a goal they are working towards. Skalski indicated that the farm is more than happy to give out an extra package of meat with the purchase a large order for the time being.
Meat is not the only item for sale by the Cook Campus Farm. They also sell composted manure, and a free bag is given out with every 5 bags purchased. The compost bags are 100% biodegradable, recycled burlap. They also sell seasoned firewood, and will soon be selling Goat Milk soap.
The farm also conducts livestock auctions for feeder pigs and lambs. All of the items are reasonably priced, and the profits return to the farm.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.