Lima Family Farms, located at 826 Amwell Road on the outskirts of Hillsborough, has spent much of the past three years selling its animal and vegetable products to outside farmers markets, such as those in Princeton and Wrightstown, Pa.
Now, the farm is entering the game with a farm market of its own that it hopes will become a one-stop shop for all Lima Family Farms products.
“We’ve been selling at farm markets, this is our third year, and to a lot of restaurants and supermarkets,” said John Lima of Lima Family Farms. “We felt that, when we finally got our pigs and our cows into production, we would try to put in an all-encompassing farm market at the farm and we’d be able to sell some of the products here.”
The market has been coming for quite some time. Lima, a contractor with several years’ experience growing hay and straw for the construction industry, purchased the property where Lima Family Farms now resides in 2008. What started as a grass-growing operation turned into a full-fledged farm, complete with home-bred cows, chickens and pigs who would graze on the grass.
“After I started (growing grass) for a while, I started looking more into the farming aspect of it. Since I know how to grow grass, I wanted to do everything on grass, so I bought some chickens for eggs and for meat to start off,” Lima said. “The following year, I bought 20 young cows, raised them up and bred them.”
Production increased–Lima estimates that his farm currently produces 500 eggs and 60 to 100 chickens per week, for example–until the farm market officially opened on June 22 of this year. The market is scheduled to run every weekend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until further notice.
The reasoning behind starting the market is two-fold: although Lima Family Farms sells out of its products—including beef, chicken, eggs, pork and seasonal vegetables—at the farmers markets it visits, as well as selling items such as beef in bulk online through its “Beef Share” program, Lima’s goal is to provide the community with two primary opportunities: to support a local farmers market and to keep its prices low.
Transporting its products and employees to outside farm markets causes the prices of the farm’s products to increase slightly. Keeping things in-house, Lima said, would keep expenses down for the farm and, ultimately, the customers.
“All we’re trying to do right now is get the word out for people to come to the farm, try the products and hopefully get them to support us,” Lima said. “The more they support us, the more we’ll grow and we’ll get our prices down.”
“I sell the product cheaper on the farm than I do when I travel to other places. I have to pay people to bring it and sell it,” Lima continued. “It’s cheaper if I do it here, and I can pass that savings on to the people who come. The long-range goal is to have the market here and have this be the only market.”
It’s not all about the money, though; Lima stated that part of what the farm can do so well, and wishes to do in the near future, is educate. As a farm that harvests its crops and animals naturally, free of pesticides and preservatives, the goal is for Lima Family Farms to bring school groups and members of the general public in for farm tours to help them better understand what goes into the farm’s all-natural food production methods.
“That’s where we’re trying to head, where we can show them what they should be doing with their diets. Unfortunately for us, you can teach the kids that, but the most important things for the farm tours is for adults to understand and realize it,” Lima said. “It costs more money to (harvest this way), but it’s more nutritious. It’s trying to get that message out to people, while on the same token trying to get the price as low as possible so I can still support the farm and get them that kind of food.”
Lima insists that there will be a market for his farm’s products regardless of what the fate of his farm market turns out to be. For Lima, however, the thrill of selling directly to individual customers is way more rewarding than selling to restaurants or big business.
“We could sell everything to restaurants. Everything we produce, I could sell to restaurants,” Lima said. “We want to sell it to you so you could buy good, quality stuff. That’s the goal, to sell it to people.“
For more information on the farm market or on Lima Family Farms, you can visit the farm’s official website.