Russo's Orchard Lane Farm

310 Extonville Road
Chesterfield, NJ 08515

609-259-3684

History:

The Russo family originated in a small town in Sicily called Messina.  It was there in the early 1900's that Anthony Russo decided to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to America.  When Anthony arrived at Ellis Island, New York he had a dream of traveling to California and growing grapes.  To his disappointment, he soon discovered that he did not have enough money for the trip because when he reached into his pocket, all he had was thirty-five cents.  That definitely would not get him to California.  The only choice he had was to find work.  Anthony's first job in America was a water boy for the trains.  He had to carry buckets filled with fresh drinking water to each of the workers.  The next job he had was working for the Stetson Hat Company.  Long hours were spent scrapping the fur from rabbit pelts to provide the necessary material to make fashionable hats for men.  Eventually, he returned to farming, but as a worker for others.  As time passed, he changed his mind about growing grapes in California and purchased a farm in Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  Anthony, along with wife Madeline, grew fruits and vegetables and raised a family of three boys and three girls.  Anthony also played an important role in the development of the Trenton Farmers' Market in Trenton, New Jersey.

Continuing family tradition, Nicholas C. Russo, the youngest son of Anthony, farmed the home farm.  Nicholas understood the need to support the Trenton Farmers' Market but also realized the need and benefit of selling his produce locally on the farm.  Through his hard work, knowledge, and dedication, his market grew from a small wagon under a tree to a prosperous farm market.  Nicholas and Dorothy, his wife, raised a family of three, two girls and one son.  Due to the growing population of Mt. Holly in 1973, Nicholas and his son sought a new location for the family farm.  Much time was spent determining the right place.  Eventually, they decided on a farm in Chesterfield, New Jersey.  With the purchase of the new farm, much work was needed.  New buildings needed to be constructed, orchards planted, and a home for Nicholas' son, and his family had to be established.

Nicholas Jr. along with wife Marilyn, and their four children, two boys and two girls, were excited to begin this new farm endeavor.  As his grandfather and father before him, Nicholas continued growing farm fresh produce to sell at the Trenton Farmers' Market and the farm market in Mt. Holly.  Because of public interest in picking apples, Nicholas opened the farm for pick-your-own apples.  As the pick-your-own tradition grew the customers became interested in purchasing other farm fresh fruits and vegetables.  A wagon was soon used to display and sell produce.  This was the beginning of other pick-your-own produce and a farm market in the packing house.  In 1984, Nicholas had the opportunity to purchase a greenhouse tomato business.  The business has grown from four greenhouses to a total of fifteen greenhouses today.  In 1990, a new addition, the farm market was built.  The new addition allowed for a larger variety of fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, and other seasonal items to be displayed and sold.

Michael, Nicholas' youngest son, farms today along with his father.  Over the years, farming has changed in many ways and Michael (fourth generation) has learned all this from farming with his grandfather and his father.  His interest in new ideas and new technology has enabled him to establish many new projects on the farm.  He continues to sell fresh produce on the farm and at the Trenton Farmers' Market.  Michael and his wife, Nichole, have two sons, Michael and Louis Russo, which will be our fifth generation.  When asked the question, "Are you going to be a farmer like your dad when you grow up?"  They respond adamantly, "We are already farmers!"  On any given day, you will find them hard at work farming with their toy tractors in the big farm sandbox or in the orchards just eating.  They are making sure their daddy is growing the best.   

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