Eating organically is a large part of my life and something I strive for as much as possible. Being able to enjoy local organic food tends to be a bit more challenging. Sure, my local Whole Foods has tons of organic produce, but when I see how far these fruits and vegetables have traveled I get a bit sad. Considering all the fuel and transportation cost involved with imported food I would much rather eat locally. With all that in mind, I was so excited to have discovered Profeta Farms, a certified organic farm in Readington, New Jersey.
Everyone has their own definition of local, but for me it is pretty much anything within my state. So driving less than an hour is a really great accessible travel distance for organic vegetables. Despite Whole Foods being much closer, I feel a lot better about supporting a small business by going out of my way to purchase from them instead. Shop small businesses!
Established in 2012, Profeta Farms has 370 acres in Hunterdon County as their home farm where they raise beef, pork and chicken. Along with growing a variety of vegetables, which they hope to expand this farm to grow fruits as well. Including growing bramble fruit soon too, such as raspberries and blackberries. When I visited the farm there so many crops that were available for purchase. They included corn, onions, eggplant, carrots, lettuces, beets, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, shallots, herbs, celery, potatoes and green beans. Though several weeks later I’m sure they have some additional vegetables harvested.
Instead of having a chat in a conference room, like you might think I would to gather to information about this farm. Instead I was invited by farmer, John Place to hop in the farm’s UTV (utility task vehicle) and enjoy a hands-on approach to learning about the workings of this farm. Which is totally fine with me because a hands-on approach is how I love to learn!
John and his wife both grew up as city dwellers, so it was of their own interest to enter the organic farm business. They believe education about food nutrition and chemicals is key since many people don’t understand the way food is grown in this country.
As we passed through the vegetable field, the rows of produce alternated with beautiful rows of wild flowers. This farm is certified organic and is inspected each year. Truly the mark of quality, as they use no pesticides or chemicals to grow their food or raise their animals. Farm workers herd the livestock themselves, opposed to on horseback or by vehicle, herding cattle calmly is far better for the animals.
As we drove beyond the produce fields, we entered the pasture areas. These grass fields are where Black Angus Cows help themselves to their meals, as they are 100% grass-fed beef. 50 of these cattle can easily cut down a quarter acre pasture in 4 hours, they are hungry animals. The cows are rotated every day to a new pasture, which allows the grass that has been consumed to grow again for another feeding in about a month.
In the next enclosure were the British Large Black Hogs, who are free to roam and forage in the forest for food in addition to the food they are provided. They often forage to eat roots, nuts, leaves and even grass just like cows. Any rejected produce that is grown on the farm supplements their diet too. Nothing on the farm goes to waste!
While I was visiting the hogs, they were chowing down on a load of vegetables that were just brought over to them. Profeta Farms has over 900 acres of additional farmland (besides the 370 acres I visited) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which is used for growing crops to feed their livestock. This allows them to know exactly what is being produced to feed their animals and to ensure the quality is up to their high standards.
The cows and pigs are always free to roam, but in the wintertime they mostly prefer to live in a covered shelter. Wouldn’t you want to hangout in a warm cozy place when it’s cold out?
I’ve had a few small experiences with backyard chickens thanks to my family’s backyard coop in Tennessee. So it was great to already have knowledge of how chickens live, eat and lay eggs, but for those who don’t already know, I’m happy to share the knowledge I gained. At Profeta Farms, their hens are free to roam the pasture and are always excited when visitors come to see them. If they aren’t in the pasture, they are in their henhouses eating or laying eggs. This is where they also roost (sleep) for the night. The doors to their houses are conveniently on an automatic timer for the morning and evening, which helps to protect them from predators.
Chickens are used for egg productions as well as meat. Right before we visited the henhouses we stopped in the barn to see two-day-old chicks and one week old chicks. It was amazing to see how fast they grow in such a short amount of time.
The farm is such a massive area, far more than could be seen from the street or parking lot. We toured the property for about an hour before John dropped me back off at the farmhouse where I had parked. It was wonderful to learn how an organic farm is run and even cooler to find out many of the farm workers actually live on the property. We passed many of the workers’ homes and it was great to see that they enjoy their job so much that they’d be willing to live at it.
Once I was dropped off at my vehicle, I headed down the dirt road to the farmstand to make my organic purchases. This farmstand will soon be replaced by another structure they are currently building. The new farmstand (complete with solar panels) will allow Profeta Farms to expand their services and food selection. They plan to have their own on-site butcher, as their meats are currently sent out to the butcher.
I was very impressed by the wide selection that they currently offer, as it wasn’t just ground beef and chicken breast. Their freezer case offered a variety of nitrate-free meats including:
Kielbasa, griller links or round
They even offer lesser-known buts of meat such as:
Beef Ox Tail
I grabbed myself some bacon, which I later found out was a generous thick-cut style. Along with several ears of corn I picked up, I also grabbed two very adorable fairy eggplants and a few handfuls of green beans. My total was just under $20 thanks to my reusable bag discount, which I was so thrilled to learn that Profeta Farms offers. They offer $.10 per bag discount, which also applies to reusable bags used for produce, so ditch those thin plastic bags and bring your own!
I was glad I had a nearly zerowaste purchase, especially because I was able to have my receipt text to my cell phone. I thought it was a great eco-friendly feature that Profeta Farms utilizes. You can have your receipt emailed or printed also. I like being able to have it directly on my phone for reference if I ever needed it. It was also really helpful to take the optional survey that was found at the end of the receipt, as I had only good things to say about my experience and wanted to let them know.
Besides vegetables and meats they produce at Profeta Farms, they also stock many other packaged foods as well. Several types of kombucha, yogurt drinks and cheeses. Organic flours, maple syrup, applesauce and honey lined the shelves above the colorful vegetables.
They also offer Trickling Springs Creamery milk in glass bottles, which is what I normally purchase, so that was great to see. These bottles require a bottle deposit, but that isn’t a deterrent for me. Since they get reused when returned and use far less plastic than commonly used plastic milk jugs.
As I mentioned before, they sell farm fresh eggs by the dozen and I am thrilled they are sold in paper egg cartons instead of plastic. The world could use less plastic. These paper containers can be reused for crafts but my favorite is to use them as seedling starters, it’s free and way better than using Styrofoam egg cartons.
I happily purchased several ears of corn, since I was so glad to finally find it organic and non-GMO. I also grabbed fairy eggplant, they were just so beautiful to look at I had to have them! Green beans are always versatile to cook with, as well as bacon.
Supporting local farmers is important for our environment, as is eating seasonally. Shopping at a small business helps to keep family businesses alive. That also means that you are helping to support the American companies and economy. Since so much of the fruits and vegetables in supermarkets are often imported from other countries. By not purchasing imported fruits and vegetables you are voting with your dollars and helping to save lots of fossil fuel in transportation costs.
I wish I lived closer to Profeta Farms, as I would be visiting them weekly. Since this farm has been the only one I’ve found close to me that produces organic, non-GMO corn. I can’t say enough good things about such a great place that is growing good food for our health. Thanks again to John Place and Profeta Farms for the wonderful tour!
Question of the day:
What’s your favorite place to purchase farm fresh produce?