Helping Jersey remain the Garden State

Courtesy of the Burlington County Agricultural Center
The farmhouse at the Burlington County Agricultural Center welcomed local gardeners to the spring garden market, where they could select perennials, annuals and native flowering plants to beautify their yards.

Spring Garden Market Saturday, April 29, will be the largest ever

In the early 1960s, Palmyra families would go out for a Sunday ride towards Moorestown and see corn growing high in the fields, orchards with ripening apples and peaches along Lenola Road and small roadside markets offering fresh produce from local farms.

Teenagers who just got their license would pile their friends in the car – along with beverages – and go towards Mount Laurel to catch a glimpse of the giant RCA golf ball that loomed over the scenic, pastoral farmland.

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Since converted into the USS Cornfield that provides the Navy with the latest in computer technology for guiding ships, it can be seen from the Burlington County Agricultural Center at 500 Centerton Road – which is hosting its annual Spring Garden Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, April 29.

“Perennials, annuals, vegetables, fruits and herb starts, hanging baskets, native plants and seeds will all be available, along with garden tools, soils and nutrients,” said Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation.

“Whether you’re already a master gardener or planting for the first time, the Spring Garden Market is the perfect place to find all the products needed to get your garden ready,” she said.

The Burlington County Board of Commissioners had preserved the 68-acre Winner dairy farm in Moorestown and Mount Laurel townships in 2005 following local opposition to a large-scale commercial development proposal.

It is located in a suburban, densely populated area of New Jersey with a population of 686,783 residing within a 10-mile radius, thanks to the many housing developments that went up in the towns of Cinnaminson, Delran and Moorestown in the late 20th century.

Concerned that this population is losing its connectivity to the land and the rich agricultural history and heritage of the region, the Commissioners established the Burlington County Agricultural Center as an educational facility focused on food production, health and nutrition, and land stewardship, and the property continues as a working farm leased to the Carlisle family who raise sheep and farm the ground.

“With more acres of farmland preserved than any other county in New Jersey, Burlington County continues to help New Jersey remain the Garden State,” Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson said. “In the spirit of that tradition, the Spring Garden Market has grown to become a popular event for everyone, and we’re thrilled to see it return better than ever.”

“The Spring Garden Market is going to be the biggest one yet, with more vendors, activities, flowers, plants, seeds, tools and everything else needed to make a garden bloom,” County Spokesperson David Levinsky said.

There will be many agricultural vendors at the event, including Bart’s Flowers, Black Sheep Farm, Grow Generation, Homebody Farm, Hope Sprouts, Mill Creek Apiary, Nana’s Home and Garden, Pinelands Produce, Rancocas Creek Farm, Recklesstown Farm Distillery, Springville Herbary, Toadshade Wildflower and the West Jersey Rose Society.

There will also be food and craft vendors, such as the Hoop House Bakery, The Soup Bar, Wild Flour Bakery and Humble Spud.

Members of the Rose Society will give presentations about rose pruning and care at 10:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., while Grow Generation will discuss creating soil beds for home gardens at 11:45 a.m.

There will be tree plantings at 11 a.m. and noon, and tours of the Agricultural Center will be offered at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.

Besides the Spring Garden Market, the center features a weekly Farmers Market on Saturdays from May through mid-November, community gardens, demonstration gardens maintained by the Master Gardener Program, field plots maintained by Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service, and a commercial kitchen.

Both the Farmhouse, commercial kitchen and outdoor area are available to rent for private events, and classes for adults and children like culinary, home and garden and homesteading are offered throughout the year.

The Farmhouse hosts an antique collection reflecting life on the farm in earlier times, most of which was generously donated by the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture.

For information email to sign up for the weekly newsletter and get the inside scoop on which vendors will be attending each week, product highlights, and special events.

This Saturday, county residents can get tips from farmers and vendors who cater to gardeners and learn how to make their homes and yards look beautiful.

“The Agricultural Center is a one-of-a-kind destination that showcases our county’s farming heritage and commitment to keeping agriculture alive and vibrant,” Eckel said. “It’s a place for residents to come all year for programs on cooking and gardening, agriculture, and sustainability.

“It’s the perfect venue for not only our Spring Garden Market but also the County’s popular weekly farmers markets.”

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