Johnston’s I&G Farms forges on in white corn
JACKSON — In Irene Johnston and her team at I&G Farms have been busy.
“I’m winding up my Christmas holiday season because we grow a lot of poinsettias,” Johnston says.
Irene and her husband, Greg, bought an old chicken farm and started I&G Farms back in 1974. “We just had a passion,” she recalls. “We had the base, which is 10 1/2 acres, and then we built a bunch of greenhouses — that’s where the base is, the garden center — and then we grow the mums there and the poinsettias.” The Johnston’s then bought a 40-acre piece of land right on Route 527. “And then the neighbor who has 30 acres said they would want to go into Farmland Preservation as well. So, we farm both pieces of land.”
Jason Johnston, in his mid- 40s, farms with his mom, and a reliable, veteran staff that has worked at I&G Farms for over 25 years. Greg passed away in September, 2020.
In addition to their very popular Jersey White corn, There’s also a greenhouse crop of tomatoes. “We have huge, big pots, and we take soil from the farm, and we put it in the back greenhouse, and then this way, we can have tomatoes for our opening for the produce, which is the end of June,” Johnston says. “And we start picking slowly around then, and then do the cherry tomatoes as well.” I&G Farms also grows three different kinds of eggplant, bell peppers, frying peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, string beans, flat beans, yellow beans, plum tomatoes, and much more
I&G Farms also grows flowers and plants, among them 30,000 mums.
“That right there is a job in itself,” Johnston said. “We’re planting and spacing, and they’re on drip, above ground outside. And then we do the thousands of poinsettias; they’re all different sizes.
“We do quite a few of them. We’re just about sold out because we do a lot of fundraisers and churches and restaurants, and my truck is on the road every day now.”
After the holidays. I&G Farms the last week of January starts receiving its cuttings for the 12 inches hanging baskets, tomato seeds get sown in the greenhouse. “And then we’re busy every day after that,” Johnston says. “It’s not a job,” she adds. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s not like you clock in at nine and you finish at five. It’s just ongoing; you’re living what you do, basically.”
I&G Farms does it well, and their customers appreciate it. Johnston is grateful to say that this year her farm was nominated in two Asbury Park Press “Best of the Best” categories, Local Produce and Garden Center. “And we won both,” she says. “My customers came through. It’s like a tribute.”
Irene Johnston loves what she does, and she’s grateful for her son and her team. “My son is great. I used to be the one in the greenhouse most of the time, but then he took over and he’s doing really good really good – really good. And I oversee everything.” She then reflects.
“This year was a big step for us,” Johnston said. “Greg would just to take off and go farming, and he never wrote anything down, and we had to pick it up. I told everybody, I said, ‘Look, we have the equipment. We have the land. We have the store, and you have the knowledge; you worked with him all those years. So come on, we’ve got to do this. Everyone’s a big family.”
I&G Farms is located at 150 Whitesville Road (Route 527) in Jackson. Visit www.iandgfarmsjackson.com for more information.