Sweet corn puts Buzby Farm on map
WOODSTOWN — Fourth of July celebrations without sweet corn would be unthinkable to many pople in New Jersey.
Summer in the Garden State — and beyond — wouldn’t be the same without the tasty treat.
Buzby Farm is one of the South Jersey farms that raises the sweet corn loved by both locals and visitors.
As with others in the area, the sweet corn grown here is white sweet corn.
Established by Andy and Dawn Buzby in 1981, the farm was, in the words of their son, Eric Buzby, a “fixer-upper” when purchased. Eric and his wife, Martie, joined the operations in 2004.
Today, Buzby Farm includes about 170 acres in Woodstown in Salem County.
Of that total, about 90 acres are planted with sweet corn.
The remaining acres are planted with a variety of other crops, including eggplants, peppers, and turnips.
But sweet corn is critical to the operations of Buzby Farm. The family makes multiple plantings so that their corn can be harvested fresh throughout the season.
“Sweet corn is our crown jewel,” said Eric. “People love our corn.”
“We try to begin harvesting our corn to market by June 25,” he continued, “so we can supply the demand for the Fourth of July and the rest of the Summer.”
Sales are done on both a wholesale and retail basis.
For retail, consumers have three ways to purchase sweet corn and other produce from the Buzby Farm.
Individuals are able to purchase products grown by Buzby Farm through an online digital platform used by the farm.
Consumers can also buy produce from this farm at several regional farmers’ markets, including ones in Collingswood, Margate, and Ocean City, New Jersey, as well as in Center City Philadelphia.
“We also offer a CSA [a Community Supported Agriculture] Program,” said Eric. “We saw an increase in demand during the COVID-19 Pandemic. That demand has continued strong. We now have about 380 CSA accounts.”
To accommodate increases in costs to the farm, rather than increasing prices for the CSA boxes, the farm has changed the share sizes.
“Our input costs have all increased,” Eric said. “Feed, fuel, all of it.”
Buzby Farm employs about 30 people, 12 of whom are employed through the U S Department of Labor H-2A Program.
“This is the second year for us with the H-2A Program,” said Eric. “Our workers come here from Mexico.”
“It’s been increasingly difficult to find local people willing to work in the fields,” Eric continued. “This is especially the case when we need to harvest our crops.”
While some of the local folks working at Buzby Farm work year-round, others are high school and college students who work part-time in the Summer months, according to Eric: “They are usually working at the farmers’ markets or helping to box CSA boxes at the farm.”
For the Buzbys, corn production is one of the ways the family strives to operate in a state with higher costs than other areas.
The density of the population in New Jersey allows greater opportunities for sales.
Eric also explained that much of the farm’s corn production is done in ways to enhance the environment.
“About three-fourths of our corn is grown using no-till production,” Eric said. “That method is important to protect our natural resources. We also use cover crops to protect the land from erosion.”
Among the cover crops used are clover mixes and rye grass mixes.
As to the popularity of corn, Mr. Buzby noted that corn is very accessible.
“You can enjoy corn by eating it raw or cooked,” he said. “Undeniably, people love the sweetness of our corn.”