"I want fresh stuff in the store, and I'd rather have my own."
Wedged in between offices and suburban homes, Abma’s Farm Market is one of the nation’s very few farms with a Starbucks practically on its corner. No matter how many times you go there, past the shrubbery and buzzing lawn mowers, you’re still surprised—and relieved—that it’s there. How is it possible that a farm still exists in Wyckoff?
Well, there’s the produce; as good as any you’ll find. There’s a beautifully restored barn with one of the largest selections of local and free-range meat in the state. And eggs, laid that day on the farm. You can even choose those eggs one at a time. It's a perfect place to embrace your fussy side.
Pioneers of what might be called “suburban farming,” the Abma family has owned this property since the 1930s. And though they’ve been doing retail for almost sixty years, they built the barn that houses their current store in 1971, decades before anybody else in the area was thinking about local foods. As it turns out, Jim Sr., the family patriarch, is a serious food enthusiast himself.
When I first met him, he was describing a trip he had just taken to France—and as I write this, he’s in Austria, where he’s undoubtedly thinking about what sorts of new cakes his farm bakery could make.
At that first meeting, Jim told me a farmer's horror story; somebody invited him over for dinner and served him salad greens from a bag! He had a tone that most people would reserve for muggings or embezzlements. There was rage written all over his face.
He could easily have a top-notch retail gourmet store and abandon the farm operation altogether, but his own tastes require him to keep growing. "I want fresh stuff in the store, and I'd rather have my own," he told me. He is most proud of his lettuces: chicory, escarole, and various red and green leaf varieties. But he also grows great peppers, and talked about his tomatoes as if they were his children.
Abma’s Farm Market is a great place to bring kids. They have a playground and small zoo where they can feed and pet sheep, goats, and rabbits. And as long as you don’t have to discuss the fact that many of those animals will become food, small children will be charmed. (Petting zoo or not, this is a real farm!) They also rent incubators along with fertilized eggs for hatching—a great activity for science classes and future farmers. There are also pony rides, hay rides, farm tours, and birthday parties with seasonal activities.
Also on the grounds of the farm is “The Health Barn,” an independent educational facility that introducing children to nature and good food. With programs available for three to fifteen year olds, and even “continuing education” for adults, this place is a worthy destination in itself.
Abmas Farm Market
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