Saturday, October 2, 2010

Family farm believes that farming is a faith, not a science

When most people think farming, they probably think of large fields, high corn stalks, and most importantly, a family-run element built behind it that’s been going on for decades. And that’s certainly the case at Parks Farms in Chester, which was established at the beginning of the last century.

“We’ve been here since 1906,” says manager, Laurie DiBietro, “it’s been owned by the Parks Farms, [and] the granddaughter is the 5th generation.”

Members of the Parks family are the only ones working out in the fields, which DiBietro says is a lost art as many farms these days get outside help. She also believes that farming is more of a science than a faith, and feels that even though this has been a tough year with some of the weather, they’ve gotten better crops than they expected because of their beliefs.

“Customers who have shopped here for over 30 years have said that it is the best corn we have ever grown,” DiBietro says, “[It’s] very, very sweet, very nice.”

What they have on the shelves really depends on the season, but depending on when you go, you might find excellent peaches, apples, or eggplants, but that’s not all they have here at this excellent farm.

“We have some of the best Christmas trees,” DiBietro says of what to expect around Christmas time.

They also have special events on the farm at certain times of the year.

“We have agritourism on weekends in October and Columbus Day,” DiBietro says.

Some of the agritourism featured at Parks Farms includes a time to pick your own pumpkins and a corn maze that’s entertaining for anybody who enters it.

“It’s a fun corn maze that takes about 5 to 10 minutes,” DiBietro says, “It’s nothing really scary and it is a fun time for a young family.”

The hay rides here are free, and they’re needed for the little over nine acres that they have on the farm.

“There’s three tractors that run nonstop,” DiBietro says, “they drop you off and pick you up, so you can pick your own pumpkin and then you can come into the store.”

Outside of all the products grown from the farm, they also have a few items from off-site that add a great deal of variety to their overall inventory.

“I have jellies and jams from Metuchen,” DiBietro says, “I have frozen fruit pies that are totally homemade and done with local fruits [and] I have fresh mozzarella cheese and homemade spaghetti sauce.”

DiBeitro also says that one of the perks of coming here is the fact that they treat every customer with the respect and kindness that customers deserve and appreciate.

“One of the things we really, really try to do here is when you walk in, you’re the only person who shops here,” DiBeitro says, “[When you come inside, we’ll say things like], Hi, how are ya, how’s your mom, sorry to hear that.”

“If someone’s sick or ill,” DiBeitro continues, “we’ll send them flowers, or give them something that we know they buy all the time, so we really try to keep the community [happy].”

Another way they keep the community happy is by giving deals to customers who buy in bulk.

“Our whole goal is to give you a quality product at a reasonable price and the more you buy here, the lower the price,” DiBeitro says, “We sell half bushels, four quarts, two quarts, [and a lot of other things], so we have a pound price, and the more you buy, the more per pound, the lower unit price.”

DiBeitro loves the customers here, and she also loves the town itself.

“[Chester] is a very nice, clean area,” DiBeitro says, “there’s a lot of things to do [here].”


WHERE: 525 State Route 24, Chester NJ
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-5509
HOURS: Weekdays and Saturday: 9:30AM-6:00PM Sunday: 10:00AM-5:00PM
CUISINE: Produce
PAYMENT: Cash, checks, and all major credit cards except American Express
PRICE RANGE: Blizzards: It really depends on the size of your purchase. Items can be as low as a change or a few dollars
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: This small shop has seasonal fruits and vegetables all around, and in back, lies the farm itself, which looks large.
ATMOSPHERE: Down to earth and practical, Parks Farms is how you’d probably expect a farm stop to look if you were to imagine one.
PARKING: In the lot
MANAGER: Laurie DiBeitro

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