New Jersey-grown collard greens? Yep
(BPT) - Less than an hour south of Philadelphia, deep in the heart of New Jersey farm country, the DuBois family works year-round to help put dinner on the table for American families.
You read that correctly - New Jersey has farm country. And the DuBois family tends a good-sized chunk of it.
Marlene and Henry DuBois, along with their daughter, Crystal, and son, Byron, farm roughly 4,000 acres. Theirs is a success story hidden in plain sight, tucked behind Americans' intertwined notions of what New Jersey is and where their food comes from. If you eat frozen or canned spinach, sweet corn, tomatoes, kale, green beans, collard greens, mustard greens or turnip greens, it may be thanks to this family and its dedicated employees who toil in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey.
"People think New Jersey is covered in asphalt," says Byron, who with his sister represents the seventh generation of his family to farm in the area. "They're wrong."
In 2016, the DuBois family certainly disproved that assumption. Among a pile of impressive statistics from the growing season, this one sticks out: The farm shipped 380 semitrailer loads, or approximately 9,500 tons, of tomatoes to the processor for canning.
"I just love working in the dirt and watching the crops grow," Byron says. "And we don't just do it for our family. I love knowing that what I do is helping to feed people in this country. I really take it personally that we are working for their families, too."
Technology and innovation
The DuBois operation is a modern-day model of diversification. The family grows a wide variety of crops, including grains that are processed into animal feed. Through careful planning and crop rotation, they ensure the land is put to its best use at the right time of year.
The family starts its planting season in March with spinach, a hearty, cold-resistant crop. As the weather warms, they move onto more summery vegetables, such as tomatoes and corn. Autumn brings winter wheat and more greens.
All the while, as one crops comes out, another one is planted. Multiple crops of certain varieties can be planted and harvested each season, as well. Time-staggered plantings of spinach, for instance, helps ensure a steady stream of the salad staple reaches its destination.
If it sounds a little complicated, it is. This large operation requires serious multi-tasking and cooperation from the entire team to keep it running. Maintaining organization is key, and that's where Crystal comes in.
It is extremely important for the 21st century grower to have precise data on the cost of doing business, Crystal says. To gather that information and help leverage it, she depends on AgriEdge Excelsior. The whole-farm management program combines data management, innovative crop choices, risk management and on-farm service to help growers maximize their capabilities.
Crystal uses the program's cloud-based software to keep track of each field's input costs, including seed, irrigation and fertilizer. Once they harvest the crop, she can analyze which fields were the most profitable. She can also manage and maintain their intricate crop rotation. As multiple years of data are collected, she can make data-driven, scientifically informed choices about what to plant where and when.
"You easily find out if you're in the red or the black - and hopefully you're in the black," Crystal says about the technology.
While the availability of this data has made it a more exact science, farming is still a passion deeply held by the entire family. The technology only strengthens it.
"Farming is either in your blood or it's not," Byron says of his family's multi-generational devotion to the land. "We love to do it. I can't imagine doing anything else."