Yesterday, I spent an afternoon at Alstede Farms (Chester, NJ) – and it was seriously the best day. It was the perfect mix of food and adventure, so it was right up my alley. ;)
The leaves in New Jersey are starting to change colors, and the air is finally getting crisper and cooler. Fall is my favorite season, and it’s finally arrived! I’ve never been to Alstede before, and can’t believe my family has never gone since we only live about 20 minutes away. While I was there, I overheard people talking about how they had come from hours and hours away. After spending the afternoon there, I totally don’t blame them for coming from so far away. It’s absolutely worth it.
Originally, I had suggested to my family that we go apple picking. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s the season for doing it.. so why not? We ended up doing a whole lot more than just apple-picking, though. Alstede has such a wonderful wide variety of fruits/veggies that are all “pick your own” and it was overwhelming how big the farm was. I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest farm I’ve ever been to - 600 acres, according to their website!
We picked apples first, and I think that was the highlight of the day for me. There were so many different types of apples, and I had no idea that so many could grow on just one tree! We weren’t supposed to eat them before paying.. but I admit, I’m guilty of eating a few.. (woops). Let’s be real though – many other people were eating off the tree too, so I wasn’t the only one!
We came home with a box full of apples, sweet corn, eggplant, gourds, small pumpkins, and fresh cut flowers – all of which we picked in the fields ourselves. We skipped out on the hayride because the line was horrendous, but walking to the different parts of the farm was a good workout and adventure in itself. Walking through rows and rows of corn taller than me was something I have never done before, and was another highlight of the day for me. We also hiked to the top of the hill to see the "Yum Yum" tree up close.
I grilled some eggplant and one of the corn on the cobs for dinner, and it was the best eggplant and corn I have ever tasted. The corn was so fresh that juice sputtered out when I cracked the raw cob in half. I don’t think I can ever eat frozen bagged supermarket corn ever again. ;) I know it’s not quite Halloween yet, but I’m dying to either carve or paint a pumpkin – I haven’t done this in years.. literally probably since middle school.
Alstede also has a bunch of happy farm animals, a corn maze, and multiple festivals / events through out the year. I have a mega urge to go blueberry/strawberry picking, but the season for that is basically over – hopefully next year! I also really want to try Alstede’s homemade ice cream, and may have to go back soon to try it becase I didn’t get a chance to yesterday. (brb while I drool over the idea of pumpkin chocolate chip)
There were so many kids, and I felt like one of them… despite being 22, haha. I wish I had gone when I was a kid. It was like a freakin’ wonderland to me. Acres upon acres of vast farmland and so much fresh organic (CSA) food… and there’s something magical about being somewhere you’ve never been before. It also reminded me of how beautiful and special New Jersey really can be. After 4 years of going to school in NY, I fell in love with city life and often complained about how “boring” NJ is in comparison – but days like this are a reminder of how lucky I am to live a life between the two states.
Solo Trip to Alstede
September 25, 2014
Yesterday, I went back to Alstede solo. The farm has free admission from 9 am – 1 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I decided to take advantage of that. ;) I got there around 10:30 am and didn’t leave until after 4 pm. It was a completely different experience without the weekend crowd, and 1000 times more magical than the first time on Sunday. I had certain parts of the farm completely to myself at times. I mostly went because I wanted to take photos without people getting in the way… haha. And, of course. I NEEDED to try the pumpkin chocolate chip ice cream. The curiosity was killing me. I also bought myself an apple cider doughnut because I am a food-loving fat-ass with zero self control at times. Both were amazing as predicted and reeked of fall vibes. I also found the pigs, cows, and peacock – none of which I saw on Sunday.
I didn’t pick TOO much from the PYO fields because I didn’t want to lug a giant box in addition to my camera and my backpack. I brought my BAGGU tote instead – because I could easily sling it over my shoulder. I came away with a couple honeycrisp apples, 3 more ears of sweet corn, a couple plum tomatoes, and a small bag of orange cherry tomatoes (not sure what these are actually called… haha… but they were delicious!). I also snipped a large sunflower to bring home. I wasn’t able to find a good one on Sunday, but yesterday I found the perfect one. Lastly, I saw purple bell peppers for the first time ever (not in the fields, but at the small market up front) – and of course I had to buy a couple of those too.
The highlight of my solo adventure was probably when I went treasure hunting in the gourd fields. I brought home a couple on Sunday, but didn’t really get to take my time to look through the entire field. I set out to find the littlest pumpkin I could, and that soon lead to “I like this one! OMG this one’s all white. These colors, though. This one has so many bumps! I gotta find a green/white striped one. I want them all.” To me, gourds are like the seashells of autumn. At some point I had to stop myself, but this is the collection I hoarded:
The other day, I also started painting/decorating one of Sunday’s pumpkins. (As I mentioned before, it’s something I’ve been wanting to do and haven’t done in forever.) It’s still a work in progress and will probably take me several more hours/days to finish completely because I decided I wanted to be super-detailed. Looking up mandala images inspired me, although my pumpkin is nowhere near as intricate or calculated. I used a combo of black Sharpie and acrylic paint. Here’s a sneak peak of what it looks like so far (when it’s finished, I’ll be sure to share that as well!):
PS: I still want to carve a pumpkin, and this will probably happen closer to Halloween. ;)
Update 10/3: I lied about showing you the finished pumpkin. It sadly went moldy before I got around to finishing it .. :(