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Honey Brook Organic Farm to move to new location next year

The Honey Brook Organic Farm. File photo by Krystal Knapp.

Honey Brook Organic Farm, the largest community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in the region with more than 3,000 members, will be moving next year to a new location less than two miles from the current location in Hopewell Township near Pennington.

For three decades, Honey Brook Organic Farm has been located on Watershed Institute property on Wargo Road in Hopewell Township. Honey Brook Organic Farm co-owners Jim Kinsel and wife Sherry Dudas, two pioneers in the CSA movement in New Jersey, have been leasing the land from the Watershed Institute.

Watershed Institute benefactor Muriel Gardiner Buttinger purchased the farm in the early 1980s from the Wargo family and donated it to the Watershed in order to create a model organic farm. The farm was known as the Watershed Organic Farm until the name was changed in the early 2000s. Honey Brook Organic Farm was one of the first operating organic farms in New Jersey, and is the oldest certified organic CSA program in the state.

Kinsel and Dudas manage hundreds of acres of other farmland in Hopewell and Chesterfield. The couple purchased the Chesterfield Farm in Burlington County in 2007. The couple will consolidate their farming activities to three farms by exercising a provision in their contract with the Watershed to terminate the farm lease.

“We are grateful for The Watershed Institute’s confidence in and support of our stewardship of this land for the past three decades and we continue to be grateful for the support of our CSA members for enabling us to pursue our passion for organic farming,” Kinsel said

Kinsel and Dudas already manage the farm they will be moving their Hopewell CSA operations to at the corner of Pennington-Rocky Hill Road and Elm Ridge Road, just 1.5 miles from their current location. They have managed the preserved farm property on Elm Ridge Road for Bhanwarlal Chowdhury and his family for more than a decade, sometimes offering pick-your-own crops to Honeybrook CSA members. Dudas and Kinsel said the Chowdhurys’ farmland is especially suited for growing watermelon, pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower, and there is minimal damage from deer or crows on the farm. 

In a note to CSA members, Dudas and Kinsel said they will cherish all their memories at the Watershed Institute. Dudas and Kinsel were married there, and this summer their niece was also married on the farm. They said they will also miss all the meories of the people they encountered and worked with over all the years at the Wargo Road location.

“We have been most gratified to nourish the thousands of member-supporters over the past thirty years at the Wargo Road farm. Many of you have pleasant memories of the farm, perhaps from watching your kids grow up climbing the popular magnolia tree in the picnic grove, or relieving stress by picking your own flowers, herbs or tomatoes or simply chatting with your fellow members in the distribution center,” Dudas and Kinsel wrote. “You have encouraged us during times of weather and Covid-19-related stress and let us know how important your farm visits were to you and your family.  We are extremely grateful for and humbled by your support and look forward to continuing to serve you and are eager to see you.”

The Watershed Institute will host another organic farm on the Wargo Road property. New farmers have not been named. The Watershed staff have discussed 2021 lease arrangements with several farmers.

“For 30 years, Honey Brook Organic Farm has demonstrated that organic farming can be successful financially, while maintaining strict environmental protections,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Institute. “We congratulate and thank Jim and Sherry for their leadership.”