Tranquility Farms opens new farmstand
GREEN TOWNSHIP — Tranquility Farms has been a fixture along Route 517 on the border of Green and Allamuchy townships for decades, but a new farmstand was unveiled on Saturday, June 2, that represents more than a new look.
Larry Freeborn said the family started discussing a new farmstand about five years ago out of a desire to increase the retail operation of the farm.
“We started the paperwork last spring, hoping we’d be open by Mother’s Day,” Freeborn said.
Obviously, that didn’t happen, but he considers June 2 pretty close.
The herd of Holsteins is a trademark of the farm, literally, since there is a cow on the logo.
But Freeborn is realistic about the future of a small dairy operation.
He milks about 90 head.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said in an interview at the farm.
His children are working in the business and interested in taking over, but their passions run to field crops and retail, not dairy.
That, combined with stagnant milk prices make the future uncertain for the cows.
“It’s been $3.99 a gallon for years, there’s no reason it can’t be $4.99,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to get into milk production.
“We have talked with other farms about co-packaging.”
Between the 310 acres Freeborn bought from the Stuyvesant Estate after it was placed in farmland preservation and land leased from the state and the estate, Tranquility Farms totals 850 acres on both sides of Route 517 at the Warren and Sussex county border.
The new stand is on the opposite side of the highway from the original one which was on leased land.
Freeborn said he reserved 15 acres for the stand and a new field for apple trees.
The corn maze will be on that property as well and five acres will be the new location of the Fall Festival.
“This is for the kids,” he said. “I could have stayed over there,” referring to the old stand on the other side of the street. “But, it’s a lifetime investment.”
More space inside and out of the stand has allowed for more products and, soon, an ice cream stand.
“We’ve got to retail,” he said, adding they do deliver fresh produce to 30 Shop-Rite stores.
The new building contains a commercial kitchen, so Tranquility Farms baked good will really be baked on the premises.
They had been using the commercial kitchen in the nearby church, Freeborn said.
More baked good will join a section for meat and a small section for gardening supplies.
Outside is an expanded area for potted plant sales and two greenhouses, which might be joined by a third if that proves necessary.
The expansion also provides opportunities for more employees.
“I have a whole wave of kids willing to work retail,” Freeborn said, but added they are less willing to do field labor, although he has had some friends of his son who have worked in the fields.
Most of his field labor is Spanish, he said, many of whom have worked for him for eight to 10 years.
He is concerned about changes in labor laws that might impact his employees, he said.
For now, he’s optimistic about the new season.
The many customers who came on opening day seemed to all be planning to return for the first scoop on ice cream on June 8.
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