Middlesex County was primarily an agricultural community in the early 1800's with about 16,000 residents, primarily of English, Dutch or Scottish descent. Both sides of the Raritan River were then covered with pastures or grain crops. By the end of the1800's, the population soared from 45,000 to 80,000. Up until the 1960's potato and dairy farms were scattered throughout the county. Middlesex County farmers consistently produced some of the highest potato yields in the country. In fact, the soils throughout the southern portion of the county are still considered some of the most productive in the nation.
Productive well-drained soils are also ideal for building lots, and The building boom over the past four decades has exploded into a population of over 800,000 people in the county. However, agriculture is "alive and well" thanks to the hard work and determination of our farmers. The fact that two farmers (Jim Giamarese in 1989 and Bobby VonThun in 2001) have been selected for The National "Outstanding Young Farmer" award in recent years is a testament to the quality of farming in our county.
There are over 100 full & part-time farmers in Middlesex County, farming over 19,000 acres of land. Most of the farmland is located in the southern portion of the county in the Cranbury, Monroe and Plainsboro area. Farmland comprises about 10% ofthe203,000 acres in the county. Farming practices are changing to reflect the decreasing farm size. Many farmers are turning to more intensive agriculture, such as vegetable or fruit production. The advantage of this change lies in the ability of farmers to directly market their produce to the consumer, thus eliminating the middleman. The direct marketing approach has been tremendously successful for the grower and the consumer. It allows consumers the opportunity to buy high quality, nutritious produce and enables the farmers to market their crop locally. Roadside markets and "Pick-Your-Own" operations are very popular throughout the state.
We are now in the age of alternative energy and fuel technologies, which provide the need for grain crops like corn and soybeans. New markets and crop usage have increased production of certain commodities. Many farmers are embracing alternative energy technologies including solar, wind and bio-fuel crops. Our farmers are kept on the cutting edge of new use technology as a result of working with agencies such as the Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, and Natural Resource & Conservation Service.
Our farmers are committed to economically and environmentally sound farming practices, securing the future of farming for generations to come. Support the future of farming in Middlesex County by seeking out and buying locally grown farm products. Become a friend of agriculture and help preserve our proud tradition as stewards of the Earth.
Middlesex County Agriculture Agent