Aside from the bright yellow dandelion and daffodil plants, strawberries are the harbinger of spring produce. And when you’re clamoring for the taste of those sweet little berries, Springdale Farms is the only place to pick your own, straight from the plants on which they’re grown. But Springdale Farms co-owner John Ebert has two words of advice to strawberry fans: “Don’t wait.”
“Strawberries are one of our big spring crops, but they only last about four weeks,” Ebert explains. “I’m always interested to see that so many people with children wait until school’s over to come pick strawberries as a family. But by late June the season’s almost over, and I wish I could have told them to come here earlier to get the berries at their best.”
Spreading the word about how best to enjoy the seasonal produce grown and sold at Springdale Farms is mission No. 1 for its dedicated staff. A simple produce chart on the farm’s website details which fruits, vegetables and herbs are growing right now.
Today, as Cherry Hill’s last remaining working farm, Springdale Farms continues its strong tradition of local growing into its 68th year. The 100-acre farm draws hundreds of customers with year-round attractions, and is a popular destination for families to purchase fresh, seasonal produce— like herbs, lettuces, berries, vegetables, and 12 varieties of Jersey tomatoes—as well as breads, cakes, muffins and seasonal pies baked daily.
Jersey tomatoes & more
After strawberry season, the next big crop will be tomatoes. Several varieties of Jersey tomatoes are grown at Springdale Farms, and Ebert reveals that the farm even oversees a third annual planting— rare among larger commercial growers— to ensure that the delectable summer staple remains available well into fall. Around July 4, corn season will be in full swing. “We purposely plant a late crop, so the same delicious corn lasts way, way into October,” he adds.
Intent on bringing as much fresh produce to its on-site market as possible, Ebert advocates double and triple cropping on Springdale’s 100 acres—essentially, planting a summer crop on the same patch of land where a spring crop has just been grown and harvested—a sight the public can see on one of the farm’s educational hayrides. “We’ll take people or school groups out to, say, a field of tomatoes, show them how we start and grow and harvest the crop,” he says.
The garden center, home to a host of practical and unique gift items, is only one of Springdale’s many indoor spaces. At the market, there’s all that great produce, plus unexpected finds like local New Jersey wines. A trip to Springdale is not done, though, until you follow your nose to the bakery, where apple cider doughnuts and some 60 different pies are baked up daily on the premises.
“We’ve got so much going on; we’re always surprised when people stop in and say, ‘I had no idea what happens here. I thought it was just a garden center,’” Ebert says. Among the farm’s other activities are birthday hayrides and special evening events in the farm’s glass-enclosed conservatory. An ongoing partnership with the Garden State Discovery Museum has led to events like an evening of stargazing with astronomers from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, as well as an annual joint fall festival and corn maze. Springdale Farms also keeps close ties with local scouting groups and schools, opening its facilities to troops on a regular basis.
Springdale Farms also participates in other community programs, ranging from the annual South Jersey Farm to Fork restaurant week to the Food Bank of South Jersey. The farm maintains a presence each weekend, from May through November, at the award-winning Collingswood Farmers’ Market—bringing produce and good food to customers who prefer to shop in town. The best way to keep abreast of the latest farm news, Ebert advises, is to sign up at the Springdale Farms website for the bimonthly newsletter or follow the farm on its dedicated Twitter account. “Our neighbors are our clients and friends,” Ebert says. “By reaching out to them, we’re blending the best of both worlds—suburb and farm.”
1638 S. Springdale Road
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (April, 2017).
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