A few years ago, I met Walter and Maria Menegus, owners of Menegus Farm, in North Jersey. I bought some peaches and some honey from them and struck up a conversation. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a friendship.

I sat down with Maria and asked her to tell me more about her family business.

“We both have farming backgrounds by growing up on farms. Ours was bought by Walt’s grandfather. We both grew up on dairy farms and always had a garden for home use. Our two sons, Michael and Jason, help us with our current farm.

My uncle asked us if he could use some of the land for vegetables. We said ok and he showed us how to plant intensely and use tractors to cultivate the crops. I wanted to grow my own food for my family so we planted fruit trees and expanded the garden. We planted corn and grain for the chicken feed. Soon we were growing more vegetables than what we could use so we opened a farm stand and vended at local farm markets.”

I’ve been an avid supporter of their for years so I know how tasty and fresh their vegetables are especially their peaches. But hearing how much they loved the soil made me have an even deeper level of admiration for them.

“We are proud to be able to grow vegetables on farm land that Walt’s grandfather and father used to provide food for their families”, she continues. “This land has been cared for and respected. It is a pleasure to plant and watch the crops grow and mature into what we can bring to the market. We receive leaves from the neighboring town and we compost them and apply them to the fields in the spring to provide nutrients. It helps with water retention as the compost acts as a sponge. It allows us to not have to irrigate as often.”

Not only is Maria an excellent gardener but she also cooks!

“I cook seasonally. What’s on my dinner plate depends on what I grow. I also make suggestions to customers when they ask what to do what a certain type of vegetable.”

What more can you ask for? Farming runs deep in this household and their community loves and appreciates them for it!

You can visit Menegus Farms at the Monroe Farmer’s Market for more delicious produce and tips on cooking!