If you take your first left past the Pomona Golf Course in Galloway, onto Manheim Avenue, it might look like every other tree-lined road in South Jersey. But about a mile and a half in, you’ll see a clearing in the trees and a tiny sign that reads B&B Farms on the left. Once you pull into the parking lot, your breath might just get swept right away at the sight of gorgeous sunflower and zinnia fields, rows and rows of different types of tomatoes, and the scent of fresh basil, oregano, and lavender. That’s the first impression you’ll get when you’re at B&B Farms: happy, content, and definitely Jersey Fresh.
What started as a nursery/garden center and “You-Pick” blueberry farm on 20 acres of preserved farmland in the early 80s (by then-Secretary of Agriculture Art Brown and his wife, Carolyn) has blossomed into so much more, including the introduction of African/ethnic vegetable crops in 2009 and the community supported agriculture (CSA) program a year later, run by Brown’s niece-in-law Jennifer LaMonaca.
Art Brown, who originated the Jersey Fresh program in 1984 as a way of grading and promoting Jersey-grown produce, has been LaMonaca’s farming mentor to help continually grow and expand the CSA using organic practices that keep crops flourishing each growing season. Having come from a marine science career, which included extensive hands-on research throughout the coastal areas of New Jersey, LaMonaca’s heart is fully vested in nature and the preservation of our New Jersey resources by bringing fresh local produce to the community.
Owning your own share of B&B’s CSA program is like hitting the jackpot. The motherload. The queen of all CSAs. Each week of the 20- (or so) week membership is an experience all on its own depending on what farmer LaMonaca and her husband, Ryan, have in store. Some weeks might include a hefty portion of dark green spinach or colorful rainbow chard while other weeks might offer members a chance to pick their own green beans right from the vine. No matter what the hefty share contains, it’s always got a little something for everyone and usually takes two trips to get it all from the farmhouse to the car. Here’s a great example: the first weekend of September included three slicing tomatoes, a quart of cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes, either a leek or an onion, four peppers or eggplant, a quart of mixed potatoes, a bulb of garlic, one spaghetti squash, a bunch of arugula, a watermelon, a bouquet of flowers, and a bunch of herbs.
Besides the produce itself, which is always at peak ripeness, B&B supports other local makers by offering treats for purchase each week. Fresh eggs from Cycle Farms (located around the corner), cheese from Fulper Farms in Lambertville, chicken sausage and pot pies from Griggstown Farms in Princeton, and baked goods from Egg Harbor City’s own Hammerbacher…oh, the baked goods.
Each week, Hammerbacher’s bakers Paul and Lauren Erbacher get inspiration from the week’s CSA share to come up with intriguing new flavor combinations for items they then sell at local farmers markets, their own shop in Egg Harbor City (40 Boston Ave), and B&B’s farmhouse. Besides the different breads, cookies, and pastries they bake, the Erbachers use produce from the farm to create delicious hand pies that melt in your mouth. Combinations like cabbage and Gruyere, spinach and potato, and roasted tomato with herbs inside flaky, buttery crusts never disappoint.
In addition to the weekly shares and all the extras available, B&B has also been hosting a family-style gathering at the end of each yearly season to bring all the members together one last time to share stories and of course the end of the harvest. Last year’s end-of-season feast was prepared by the Erbachers and was so well received that a few additional events have been added to this year’s season. In fact, LaMonaca has discussed having even more farm-to-table events on a regular basis. Over the summer, the Band of Lovers, a local group, played and the Erbachers cooked at B&B Farms’ first ever Cookout and Barn Concert which was a great success benefiting the Stockton University’s Marine Science program’s Stacy Moore Hagan Memorial Scholarship Fund. Supporting local businesses and helping friends is clearly at the top of LaMonaca’s priority list.
B&B Farms welcomes members to bring family and friends each week to share in the Jersey Fresh farm experience. In the picking fields, it’s not uncommon to hear squeals of joy from a little one who first tastes a tiny Sungold tomato he just picked with his own hands. You will often find friends chatting about their latest CSA creations in the herb field and strangers sharing both new and tried & true recipes for ways to use this week’s share. Since each share also contains a bouquet of flowers members pick themselves, you can also find many cameras at the ready for that perfect floral masterpiece picture.
To find out more about B&B Farms and how to get your own CSA share, please call 609-338-8690 or visit during their pickup days throughout the CSA season. (Wednesdays 1 to 6 and Saturdays 9 to 2.) Shares for next season will be available this October. You can also get a sneak peek at the farm by following on Instagram or on Facebook!
250 S Avenue