City Seedling: Local Bounty

This weekend my husband and I took a trip out to the Sussex County Fair. If you’ve never been to a county fair, specifically an agricultural fair, you are really missing out. (Seriously, stop what you are doing and go visit one RIGHT NOW.) These multi-day events feature things like barrel racing, fluffy bunnies, insanely huge produce (see below), local crafts and baked goods, and usually some kind of freak show. (Last year there was “The Serpent Woman” — a woman with an uncanny resemblance to Lunch Lady Doris, with her head sticking up through a hole in a folding table, next to a snake stuffed animal.)

Super Zuke. That peanut is for scale, BTW.

All of these are housed in different tents at the fair grounds. We spent the morning visiting the animals, then dined on a delicious lunch of fried things. (No deep fried butter…this time.) Next, we checked out the greenhouse for the flower and vegetable judging.

While perusing the vegetables, a thought occurred to me: what would a Hudson County Fair look like? I mentioned this to my husband, who snorted some remark about a “best disguise of a bribe in a tea cozy” contest.

Which would be awesome.

But really, think about it. How many of your neighbors will be foisting their excess tomatoes on you in the next couple of weeks? How many stoops house little pots of chives and basil? Jersey Citizens actually grow an incredible variety and amount of food. So, this week I took a walk around town to see some of the local bounty.

Lovely, happy squashes.

A peck of (maybe, eventually) pickled peppers.

The Brunswick Community Garden’s baby figs. Or as I like to call them, “figlets”.

My ultimate garden crush on 6th Street. This person has a whole farm on his/her stoop. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs…swoon.

Across the street, the same person (I think) growing corn, people!

These photos are just the tip of the iceberg. People are farming all over the place. I am especially inspired by the 6th Street gardener because this garden is the picture of resourcefulness, and just taking what you’ve got and making it work, which is really what you need to do with urban farming. With beautiful results.

What’s the most unexpected food item you’ve seen growing in our city?

Happy growing,


Do you have a gardening question/comment/angry rant you’d like to share with Emily? Post it in the comments!

Emily Helck

a lifelong New Jersey resident who moved to Jersey City in 2006. She earned an MA in English and writing from Fordham University. In addition to blogging about gardening in the city, her personal blog RTONJ is about being a young adult with cancer. She lives downtown with a dog, two cats, and her husband.