New Jersey has had a wild ride over the last year with diverging weather patterns, labor shortages, and international pressures—but some things will never change: it’s a top agricultural producer and the state’s deeply loyal and rising customer base for all-things-local keeps grower-shippers, wholesalers, and distributors on their toes.
Join us as we take a walk through the Garden State’s famous fresh fields.
Fresh, Fresh, Fresh
Although New Jersey grows a wide range of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, five in particular are sought after by buyers throughout the state and beyond.
“New Jersey grows over 100 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables and the ‘Big 5’—sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, peppers and blueberries—continue to lead the pack,” confirms Thomas Beaver, director of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s marketing division. Production of cranberries, spinach, cucumbers, squash, snap beans, and cabbage also fall into the national top ten.
The fields of M. D’Ottavio Produce, Inc. in Vineland showcase many of these staple items including both organic and conventional blueberries, 23 new specialty peppers, and a healthy variety of eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
“New for 2018 will be harvesting for blackberries, raspberries, and golden ber-ries that will complement our existing organic and conventional fruit program,” says president Mike D’Ottavio.
Ryan Flaim, managing member at R&R Flaim Next Generation Produce, LLC, grows herbs, lettuce, squash, eggplant, and peppers. He believes all of the vegetables are “essential” components to his business, but he’s pretty excited about a new romaine lettuce variety that he characterizes as having both a “tender and crunchy” profile and believes will be a hit with chefs and consumers.
Diversity Spurs Demand
New Jersey has long been a mecca to ethnicities and cultural diversity. With more than 117 languages spoken in the state, Beaver says there is ample growth “in niche and ethnic products—this is particularly true of our direct marketers, many of whom are experimenting with new products to satisfy customer demand, extend the growing season, and otherwise capitalize on our exceptional diversity.”