Monday, September 17, 2012

Cherry Grove Farm

I recently wrote about the community composting program at Cherry Grove Farm. This was our third Sunday dropping off compost. Best as we can tell, we are the only people depositing our food scraps. As someone at Cherry Grove Farm pointed out to me, many of their customers already compost. I'd like to encourage my local friends to drop off your food scraps and keep them out of the trash heaps.

Before school started, Ashley and I toured Cherry Grove Farm. They offer community tours each Friday afternoon at 2 PM. You can also schedule a tour for a school group for a fee. 

The farm consists of 230 acres of certified organic farmland. I should have written down the numbers when I was at the farm. Please forgive my faulty memory on the exact numbers. They have approximately 60 milking cows (two of the "girls" were about to have calves when we were at the farm), and another 40 Hereford cows. All are grass-fed. Only the Hereford are being raised for dinner.

Our tour coincided with the time the cows come home to be milked. Farmer Kelly made it look easy. He shows up at the same time each day on his tractor and the girls line up to be milked. After running a bunch of tests, the girls are milked around 3 PM each day, which is open to the public to watch. There is also a 3 AM milking, but I suspect no one turns out for that milking.

The cows both mow and "fertilize" the pastures. As one pasture gets low (after a few weeks) the girls are rotated to a different pasture.

In addition to the cows, the farm also has 1000 egg-laying (i.e., not for dinner) pasture raised chickens. Come on Wednesdays for the best supply of eggs, since the farm is closed on Tuesdays.

The farm tries to be sustainable. They encourage local tree cutters to drop their wood at the farm, this way the tree surgeons avoid paying a fee to deposit the trees in a landfill, and the farm uses it to heat the store, the cheese facility and Kelly's farmhouse. A win-win for all as everyone walks away thinking they got the best end of the deal. 

For someone who grew up in Paramus, and has lived in the area for *gasp* nearly 25 years now, I am still amazed a farm of this size (400 acres of land) is able to survive and thrive only a couple of miles away from I-95 and Route 1. The cheese is available in many local stores. Inside their store, they support local businesses, such as our neighbor, Dan the Mustard Man, winner of the worldwide mustard competition.

Located on Route 206, just north of Lawrenceville Main Street (and a few miles south of Princeton), come out and support a local business until "the cows come home" (you knew I couldn't resist that!).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A composting we will go

For a while now, Don and I have been thinking the next step in our becoming eco-friendly should be composting. Trouble is, the more we read up on composting, the more confused we become. Composting sites range from it is super easy (just toss it all in a pile in your back yard) to it is a science and you must have the right proportions of food to yard clippings to leaves in order for it work properly. 

My hunch is successful composting falls somewhere in-between the extremes. After all, doesn't most of life fall in-between the extremes?

Members of Sustainable Lawrence have been working with the township to set up a pilot program where a truck would circulate around the neighborhoods and pick up composting from each family, similar to how they already pick up our trash and recycling. Princeton is currently running a similar pilot program. 

If the town supported composting program goes through, that would be the ideal. It would accept everything that was once alive -- from the normal compost items (such as egg shells, tea bags, and leaves) to pizza boxes and weeds that currently end up in our trash.

While that fight continues, Cherry Grove Farm on Route 206 (2.25 miles from our home) recently implemented a community composting program. We collect our food scraps all week in a container of our choice (we choose an empty cat litter container) and dump it in their grey trash container. The farm adds in grass clippings, natural "fertilizer," and their own food scraps. The mess and stench is contained to their property (for which I believe our neighbors should be grateful). Best of all, we are not cluttering the landfill with something that can serve a better purpose and is expensive for the township to haul away from our curb.

It has only been two weeks thus far. The farm only accepts drop-offs from 10-2 on Sundays from now through November. Yes, there is a downside to everything. On the other hand, maybe this will help us to develop a good, life-long habit.   

For more information about the Cherry Grove Farm composting project go to: