Saturday, October 2, 2010
Local farm offers a bounty of fun activities and not just great food
With over 500 acres and 250 different varieties of fruits and vegetables available, you can pretty much purchase any kind of produce you’re craving from Alstede Farms. But that’s not all you can do here as this vast location has so much more to offer.
“There’s no better way to spend quality family time than to get out in the open air and to do things without video games, without television, and just be together as a family,” says General Manager, Kurt Alstede, “And we offer the perfect place to do it.”
On Alstede Farms, aside from the ice cream and other delicious foods that you can purchase here on the premises (More on those soon), there’s everything from pony rides for the kids, to visiting the animals, and even a corn maze that changes every year at the farm. This year’s corn maze theme is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scout’s of America and last year’s theme was a tribute to one of New Jersey’s greatest teams.
“We’re big Devil’s fans, and last year, the theme of our corn maze was the New Jersey Devils,” Alstede says, “and we’re just continuing to have a relationship with the Devils organization.”
Alstede, who founded the business in 1982, has about 80 or more people working on the farm during the busy season each week and it allows many different activities to take place.
“Our goal is to make agriculture accessible and fun to people,” Alstede says.
One such way his farm is making agriculture fun is the ability to pick your own fruits or vegetables right off the farm.
“We have everything from peaches, apples, red raspberries, blackberries, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and even some pumpkins available for picking [right now],” Alstede says, “There’s hay wagon transportation to all the picking areas. We farm as many as 500 acres, and it’s a full-time operation, and everything is sold direct to the consumer.”
It’s a five dollar admission, and that includes unlimited free access to their hay wagon shuttle. Picking is open every day from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and there’s even a special treat for those who would like to pick in the middle of the week.
“What’s really special is that on Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, we have what we call the midweek quick pick special,” Alstede says, “Anybody is welcome to come out on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and there’s free admission, so not only do they get in for free, but they also get to ride the hay wagon shuttle for free.”
If you’d like to acquire some of their fresh fruits, vegetables, or flowers and don’t have the time to go out and pick out in the field, though, then there’s also plenty of items in the store that you can purchase that vary in price depending on what you’re looking for. They also have special treats that you won’t find on many other farms.
“Several years ago, we made a decision to start taking these products that we grow and turning them into other things,” Alstede says, “And one of those things for instance is ice cream.”
“We make a variety of different flavors of ice cream with our own fruits and we feature different seasonal specials,” Alstede continues, “like in blueberry season, we had blueberry ice cream, and in strawberry season, we always have strawberry, but we had strawberry cheesecake, and right now in the fall, we’re offering chocolate red raspberries, which features our own red raspberries.”
They also have apple pies featuring some of their homegrown apples, as well as caramel apples.
Even with all of the delectable treats though, he’s also proud to discuss how healthy a majority of his items are.
“If you’re looking for a source of good, quality, local foods, whether it be organic or sustainable, we’re the place,” Alstede says.
Alstede truly loves the Chester area, as well as New Jersey itself.
“This is a great area to be in,” Alstede says, “There’s a reason why Jersey’s called the Garden State and it really is a tremendous place to be growing fruits and vegetables.”
WHERE: 84 Route 513 (Old Route 24), Chester, NJ
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-7189
HOURS: 9:00AM-8:00PM every day
CUISINE: Fruits, vegetables, and other products
PAYMENT: Cash, checks, and all major credit cards except American Express
PRICE RANGE: It depends on what you’re purchasing, but it can be anywhere from 49 cents to several dollars. It really depends on what you want
THE SCENE: A lovely place to buy produce in the shop or to pick your own from the field.
ATMOSPHERE: This immense farm has everything from hay rides to pony rides to a corn maze. There’s no better place to be on a beautiful day than at Alstede Farm.
PARKING: In the lot
GENERAL MANAGER: Kurt Alstede