The Phony Farmstand Responds: How Did They Like Them Apples?

Almost a month after my Phony Farmstand post and follow up, I received an email back from the proprietor of Cvetan Brothers Produce in Flemington, NJ. I am including it here, unedited. What interests me a bit is not the grammar or lack of punctuation, but the fact that her signature included links to several work-at-home schemes. I’ve left those out for the sake of privacy:

“very sorry you were disappointed after a stop at our stand. did you also leave a note? we are not being deceitful. if so, we would not have left the sticker on. we always tell people when asked that the plums are from Cal. we dont grow lemons or limes either. we add those things to our inventory to give a wider variety of items to our customers. many of our items are ours, or local farmers, or at least Jersey. the cheesecakes and pies are made across the street. At least our produce isnt from Mexico or Chili like you will find in Shop Rite. We do our best to have a wide selection of items for a good price. We do have some hydroponic cucumbers and tomatoes that we grow. They have no pesticides. Hope you at least enjoyed the other items you purchased.”

Interesting response considering that they had, in fact, removed the stickers from the peaches and plums. They just happened to miss one at the bottom of the bin.

Yes, U.S. grown is better than international. But last time I checked, most markets had plenty of American grown produce available, especially conventional. One should not have to ask the provenance of fruit at a farmstand in a state known for its summer yield of fresh peaches! (If I saw a lemon or a lime, I would have been wise enough to question)

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the Executive Director of Greener Partners , a local nonprofit program with several organic farm hubs that works to connect communities through farms, food, and education.

I learned a few startling facts, including how common of a practice this “phony farmstand” business is. There is really no legislation in place to prevent people from doing this. Even Farmers’ Markets with internal requirements only dictate that a certain amount of the goods sold must be local – not all of them.

I also learned that a popular local “pick your own” farm was not only far from organic, it actually sold quite a bit of produce that had been imported from other places. Apparently, it would be impossible to grow so many pumpkins on that particular patch.

We’ll be making our family farm visits to a Greener Partner farm this year and continuing to support our organic CSA. In the meantime, be sure to ask questions at your local farmstand and market – in this day and age, sadly, one can never assume that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


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