Lanza’s Nursery and Garden Center Fills a Void in the Area
Lanza’s nursery was always there, as we traveled New Bedford Road through Wall, on our way to see friends or to reach Rte. 18, while avoiding Rte. 35. It was part of the rural feel of the road, defined by old farm houses and fields which reminded us of what was once a large agricultural area. Sadly, in recent years, much has disappeared from both New Bedford Road and Baileys Corner Road including local Jersey Fresh produce. The sheep pens are gone and land is being sold for upscale residential development. After the close of our beloved Geiser’s Farm Market there were no more farm stands that actually picked and sold from a common location. I guess you could suggest Atlantic Farms but that is more of a commercial operation than what I mean.
To our pleasure, we discovered on Sunday, a positive change is taking place. As we drove the route along New Bedford Road, wood flatbed trailers filled with brightly colored flowers caught our eye. A big red and white “Parking” sign invited us into a large unpaved lot adjacent to a big greenhouse and a garage that was converted to a shop. This place was exactly what we needed that day, with a large assortment of annuals, herbs and perennials. Off in the distance I could see six beehives watching over a large green planted field along with more large greenhouses. Could it be? Is it a real farm growing their own Jersey Fresh produce only minutes from my home?
I clearly remember passing this property when it was a nursery. In fact the sign for Lanza’s Nursery is still there. However, the two very friendly, enthusiastic young women who were working there were eager to convey the new story. The operation is now overseen by Chris DeFeo who has leased a portion of the property from the owner, Bill Lanza, who is very supportive of his endeavor. Chris has always had a passion for horticulture and has taken several college level courses in the subject. He is also currently pursuing a degree in sustainable agriculture online through UMass Stockbridge. His goal is to operate the former nursery as a produce and flower farm, with an emphasis on greenhouse grown flowers and farmed vegetables.
An Abundance of Crops at Lanza’s Nursery and Garden Center
Those fields, that I could see in the distance, contain several types of tomatoes, including Early Girl and several heirloom varieties, along with eggplants, peppers, squash and more. Those hives are, of course, to help with pollination and also to produce honey to be packaged and sold on premises. Of course, I have to realize that this is New Jersey and I must be patient. Aside from asparagus, which takes years to become established, not much is ready to be picked. But the season of abundance is less than a month away.
A Real Farm Stand Preserving Open Space
To me, a farm stand is a place where someone grows vegetables and sells them on their own property. It is not a place where a wholesaler supplies fruits and vegetables from all over the world to a retailer with a roadside store or emporium. I want to know that the tomato I buy in the summer is grown outside in the dirt, New Jersey dirt. I want an eggplant that is still firm when you thump it with a stem that has not turned brown from being in a trailer. You can only get that from a grower, and that is why I am so happy. This is a perfect location for an operation like Lanza’s. It fills a void left by others – some who have departed and some who sold out. Despite rigorous open space programs by Wall and the DEP, much of the rural space is destined to become an extension of suburban sprawl. It pleases me greatly to know that this acreage along with a few others, like the nearby Alpaca farm, and hopefully, the equestrian properties, will remain to buffer the development. One great benefit of living in the shore area is the close proximity of farming to fishing which creates a bounty of culinary opportunities for local foodies like us. I can’t wait for that first crop.
To learn more about Lanza’s and what is ripe for picking, visit their Facebook page.
Eat Fresh, Eat Local, Enjoy