The Pick of the Season: Farm-Fresh Harvest in New Jersey

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Ready for some farm-fresh family fun? New Jersey makes it easy to be an “agri-tourist” with a cornucopia of events, activities and pick-your-own opportunities throughout the harvest season.

Perfect Pick-Your-Own Spots

If Peter picked a peck of apples, how many apples did Peter pick? Find out for yourself, and treat your taste buds to the real deal with Jersey Fresh® produce picked by YOU. Introduce your kids to the pleasures of apple picking at the fifth-generation VonThun’s Country Farm & Market in Monmouth Junction. Along with U-Pick opportunities, VonThun’s features old-fashioned fun every weekend in the fall with hayrides, a corn maze and harvest festivals. At Hallock’s U-Pick Farm in New Egypt, you can easily increase your daily intake of nutrient-rich veggies in the fall with sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, squash and the trendy kale. Other PYO (pick-your-own) options throughout the state include Eastmont Orchards, Mackey’s Orchard and Johnson’s Corner Farm.

Celebrating Apples, Pumpkins, Even Pig Races

Linus of Peanuts fame would certainly approve of this event: the Great Pumpkin Festival at Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon, the largest fall festival in Northern Jersey. Encompassing the season from September 19 through November 1, the festival features over 30 fun-filled activities, ranging from the hay crawl to pig races.

For a more refined stroll, take in Gardens Aglow to see Montclair’s Presby Iris Gardens lit with artfully carved jack-o-lanterns (October 23). Terhune Orchards, the popular Princeton family destination, continues the tradition of Fall Family Fun Weekends through the end of October, featuring u-pick apples and pumpkins, pony rides and live music.

And in the “hard to top this” category: a giant pyramid of 50 pumpkins is among the pumpkin-related activities and displays at the South Jersey Pumpkin Show (Salem County Fairgrounds, October 9-11), along with the Big Pumpkin Weigh Off and the Largest Pumpkin Pie.

A-Mazing Fall Frolics

And speaking of oversized fun—experience the granddaddy of corn mazes at Howell Living History Farm near Lambertville. Its annual corn maze is New Jersey’s longest (2.5 miles in 2014), and, this September and October, the farm invites you to “gather your flock and hatch your plan for escape” as you navigate the 2015 “Don’t be Chicken” corn maze. Other fall events at this working historic farm include wheat planting and cider making.

You can also get lost in the five-acre maze at Norz Hill Farm, which presents a new design each year to challenge maze enthusiasts. And Chester’s Alstede Farms changes up the maze scene this year with sunflowers instead of corn!

Discover more fall festivals and farm-fresh harvest fun at visitnj.org, where you can download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news from New Jersey Travel and Tourism. Or learn more about agri-tourism and Jersey Fresh® initiatives through the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.