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Several years ago, he decided to stop wholesaling and began selling his peaches, hand picked and hand sorted, directly to those who eat them.
— In this epicenter of New Jersey peach production, where the landscape filled with rows and rows of peach trees has helped boost the Garden State’s peach crop to fourth largest in the nation, farmer John Hurff finds himself doing things the old-fashioned way.
William Schober Sons was started in 1896 by Hurff’s maternal great-grandfather, the farm’s namesake, who came from Germany.
Hurff’s is one of 92 peach orchards statewide that make up a patchwork of farms, large and small, that harvest enough of the sweet, tangy fruit to place the state behind only California, South Carolina, and Georgia in peach production nationwide.
That market in turn has grown to include more buildings where the family sells its top-of-the-line produce and baked goods made on the premises.
“Our goal has always been to grow the best crops we can and sell them directly to our customer,” said Duffield, who grows peaches on about 25 acres.
“People really want to know what has gone into growing their food,” Hurff said.
This year in New Jersey, a continued stretch of good weather — no heavy frosts and a relatively dry, but not too dry, spring — allowed the blooms on the trees time to “set up” and become plentiful, according to Santo Maccherone, president of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council.
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After three dozen or so similar pictures one gets the impression there must be some big cat petting zoo nearby.
They are washed and then the fruit is hand-sorted, based on size and ripeness.
The peaches are sorted into smaller baskets — half bushel, peck, and gallon size — to be displayed for sale upon the wooden bleacher-like shelves of the stand.
Through strictly retailing his wares, the idea was to maintain the property as “an old-fashioned American family farm” that he could pass down to his three children, Hurff said.