No more hayrides: Beloved NJ family farm shutting down retail business
For over 49 years, Cheesequake Farms, between Old Bridge and Matawan has been a convenient stop for fresh produce and seasonal family activities. Apples and corn. Flowers and decor. Pumpkins and pine trees.
Unfortunately, that is all coming to an end. According to a Sunday social media post addressed to "friends of the farm," the farm is shutting down "the retail portion" of their business.
Cheesequake Farms recently wrapped up their annual Halloween season activities, including hayrides, pumpkin picking, photo ops, and seasonal vendors. While the announcement doesn't make specific reference to whether those fall festivities will cease, another post from early November advertised their decorations for sale.
My family has made Cheesequake our "official" pumpkin picking spot for the last six years. The employees were friendly and enthusiastic. The pumpkin selection was outstanding. And the produce, the merchandise, and the festivities were affordable. A Halloween trifecta.
We will very much miss taking our annual photo in front of the "How Tall This Fall?" sign. And we always made it a point to buy an armful of fresh produce, gourds, decoration pieces, and cookies with our family pumpkin. We were never disappointed.
Update: The closure will apparently happen quickly, even before the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas season. According to a Facebook post on Thursday 11/18, the Cheesequake Farms "Rt. 9 Old Bridge Market location will be closed as of Monday, November 22nd." Their website shows the markets usually stay open through Christmas Eve.
Is the closure due to planned retirement? Or dwindling sales and visitors? Or COVID-related illness, economic downturn, or supply difficulties? Or did a bigtime developer make an offer for the site they couldn't refuse? We may never know the real reasons.
Thanks and best wishes to owners Bob and Linda and their staff for the years of memories, beautiful produce, and fantastic service.
(Of course, we are now in search of a new place for hayrides, pumpkins, and family fun for next fall and beyond. Let me know if you have any suggestions!)
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey, and is always looking for fun family activities to enjoy around the Garden State. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news and weather forecasts.