Fran Hancock (left) and Alex Sheppard represent the newest generation at Eastern Fresh Growers. Hancock, nephew-in-law of Tom and Erwin Sheppard, is heavily involved in post-harvest operations for the company, he says. Alex Sheppard, Tom Sheppard’s son, recently returned to the business after several years as a mechanical engineer, Hancock says. ( Courtesy Eastern Fresh Growers )

Sweet corn will be a new item this year for Eastern Fresh Growers, Cedarville, N.J., said president Tom Sheppard.

Harvest of sweet corn will begin for the company the second or third week of July, though other growers that plant under plastic could start the first part of July.

“Corn is a new thing. We have never grown corn before,” he said in late May.

“But we thought we have the vacuum coolers to cool it, and we have the harvesting aids to harvest it and we have the labor to do it.”

The company will harvest sweet corn from about 50 acres over seven weeks.

In late May, the firm was actively harvesting asparagus. Yields this year have been off because of cool April weather.

“That held it back and we look to have two thirds of a crop,” he said.

Even so, prices have been strong with the shorter volume.

In other news at the company, Sheppard said his son Alex Sheppard has come to work at the farm after six or seven years as a mechanical engineer.

He will look to work into the role of managing growing operations, Tom Sheppard said.

The Sheppard family has been farming at the same location in Cedarville since 1888, according to the company’s website.

Starting harvest in April with asparagus, Eastern Fresh Growers will harvest New Jersey fresh produce through the first week of November, he said.

Eastern Fresh also grows bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and lettuce, and also markets organic produce from Jersey Legacy Farms LLC in Cedarville, which is operated by David Sheppard, brother of Tom Sheppard.

 
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