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Field Trip: Garden State Farming

It was Sunday afternoon, which for Farmer Kevin Flaim, meant he had just a few short hours out of the entire week to rest. Yet this week he generously traded those hours in to tour me around his farm.

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Planting the seeds for romaine lettuce.

I was welcomed the same way I would have been if I asked to meet his family. And in a sense I did, because this Vineland farm has been in his family since 1934. Three hundred acres of all vegetables – fresh, local and seasonal – I was in my glory!

I met Farmer Kevin at the end of the long dirt road that opened up to his 300-acre farm. He, his wife Sharon, and I hopped in their white pick up truck and the tour began.

After spending the past six months studying a plant-based diet in culinary school, I was seeing first hand exactly what gives my home state of New Jersey, its nickname as the Garden State.

The fields seemed endless, yet Farmer Kevin knew every detail about each plant, every inch of soil, and the number of days until its harvest.

Flaim Farm (aka Panther Brand) sells 40 varieties of produce to business and directly to customers.

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Golden Beets

Here’s a glimpse at what they grow:
• Romaine lettuce
• Leeks
• Beets
• Spinach
• Collard greens
• Swiss chard-green, red and rainbow
• Kale (Hail to the Kale!!)
• Turnips
• Napa cabbage
• Squash
• Eggplants
• Peppers
• Escarole
• Endive, and
• Scallions

These are also many of the items that they bring to the Collingswood Farmers Market every Saturday morning which is where I was first introduced to the Flaim family.

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Hail to the Kale!

Flaim Farms is always my first stop at the market. After all, it’s where I stock up on kale – three bunches each week! Even on an early Saturday morning, this Jersey girl can prioritize quite well. With it, I make my yummy morning smoothies, lunchtime salad and often a side dish at dinner. In fact, during the tour Farmer Kevin saw how excited I got over the field of kale, he pulled over to let me take a picture. ☺

This trip was such an eye-opening experience and I am so grateful for the work that they do! Quite simply, the farmers here in the Garden State put in long, exhausting hours, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. Farming is in their blood and they love it. It’s just important that we support them. Here are just a few ways to get started:

1. Shop at Farmers Markets. The produce is so fresh and often less expensive than the grocery stores because you’re buying it directly from the source. (If you go to the Collingswood Farmers Market, be sure to stop by Flaim Farm Panther Brand stand and say hello to Kevin and Sharon Flaim!)

2. Request Jersey produce in your grocery store. Many will promote “local” produce but they sometime chose a neighboring state over our own Jersey farmers.

3. Thank the Farmers. I was blown away by how generous Farmer Kevin was with his time and I think he was equally surprised that someone had expressed such an interest in his work. He even sent me home with this amazing bundle of veggies!

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That’s all folks!
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