Education

Six Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

Its Earth Day and we wanted to think about ways to be kind to our grand blue marble, Earth.

Here are 6 simple things you can do to drastically reduce your plastic waste.

With all the plastic being dumped into landfill and floating in our oceans, the time has come for all of us to behave more responsibly.

And that’s actually pretty easy.

You don’t have to be perfect, or completely change your way of living. Just follow these simple steps and you will cut down a lot of unnecessary waste.

Change your mindset

It all starts with changing the mindset.

Once you start to actively reduce your waste, you will realize just how much waste there is everywhere. And then, you’ll be able to make conscious decisions about what you buy.

You will be better prepared and will be likely to buy less “stuff” – as you’ll only buy what you need. That, in turn, can help you save money!

2. Say no to plastic bags

The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. So if you choose to stop using just one type of plastic – the plastic bag is a great place to start.

Stock up with a few reusable bags and you’ll never have to contribute to this waste again.

For example, reuseable produce bags are great to use to pack your fruit and veggies at markets. Pop your produce straight in the bags, and when you get home – wash them inside the bag, and pop them straight in the fridge.

They are also handy to use while shopping in a grocery store, or for general organization too.

3. Swap your plastic toothbrush for bamboo

It’s recommended that we change our toothbrush every 3-4 months. If these toothbrushes are plastic toothbrushes, that’s a huge amount of plastic waste that is being discarded every single year.

In fact, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in America alone.

Imagine if 50% of the American population swapped their plastic brush for a biodegradable bamboo brush. That would prevent 500 million pieces of plastic entering our environment every year, and 5 billion every decade!

Check out these bamboo toothbrushes – they work super well, have been recommended by multiple hygienists, come in cute colors, and work out to cost under $1.49 per brush (often cheaper than plastic ones.)

Swapping your plastic for bamboo toothbrush is another small change you can make, and save money while helping the environment, too.

4. Rethink the straw

Plastic straws are a one and done event. They are too small to be recycled, so their only destiny is either landfill or floating in our ocean.

Ask yourself: Do you really need the straw? Maybe it’s an added luxury…and you could get used to drinking without one?

Alternatively, you can keep a small pack of reusable straws in your bag at all times…and whip out in times of need. They are easy to clean and kind to our wildlife. Whether you prefer stainless steel drinking straws or bamboo straws, you’ll never have to drink with a plastic straw again.

5. Buy locally

At Cherry Grove Farm, we’re all about sustainable farming and treading lightly on the land.

When you buy from local markets, you can cut down your consumption of plastic packaging and will end up throwing less away.  We have a small “Sustainable Re-useables” section in the farm store that makes cutting back on waste a bit easier. Try our re-useable tea bags and coffee filters, or reusable beeswax wraps to keep food fresh without using plastic wrap.

6. Make more at home

There’s nothing wrong with getting take-out; the problem is the packaging that the take out often comes in.

Plastic lids, cutlery, wrap, styrofoam, polystyrene… None of it biodegrades which means that even though your meal only lasted once, the packaging will last forever.

We know it can be difficult to find the time for home cooking, but cooking meals in bulk can cut down a huge amount of time. And make enough to last two or three meals and it can be just as convenient as a take out – but with all the added benefits of being home-made, chemical-free, and plastic-free.

But if you must have those pot stickers or tacos al pastor, why not have a handy reuseable bamboo cutlery pack in the car and just say no to the plastic utensils? Reduce waste in your life.

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Earth Day is a good day to think about what we can do to reduce waste and single use disposables. Hopefully these 6 simple steps have given you a little inspiration to reduce your waste today. And remember – it doesn’t all have to be implemented at once. Just one small change can make a big difference.

We are considering expanding our “Sustainables” section in the store to include bamboo reuseables. Tell us if this would help you reduce waste in your life!

Resilient Agriculture

This winter we got a call form the Education Group at Stone Barns about participating in a video that would be used for their Food Ed Curriculum. If you know Stone Barns, you know they are a leader in the promotion of
sustainable agriculture, local food, and community-supported agriculture. It was a real pleasure to be a part of the story.

Paul Lawler, our head cheesemaker, and Anna Reinalda, our new dairy manager do a great job of explaining what we do and why it is important.

Please share this video

Cow Parade is Here!

Music by The Jersey Corn Pickers

The Cake Off: An Olde Fashioned Baking Competition

Cheesemaker’s Presentation in Cottage

Jammin’ Crepes and Mama Dude’s Food Trucks

Beer by Flying Fish to help Farmers Against Hunger

Vendors this year include:

  • Cherry Grove Organic Farm (veggies)
  • Mecha Artisan Chocolates
  • Unionville Wines
  • Wildflour Bakery and Cafe
  • Mother Tree Collective’s DIY Body Scrubs
  • Lori Lee Books
  • Pinelands Basketry
  • Get Sharp Knife Sharpening
  • Birds and Bees Farm
  • Tracy Ashcroft Antiques
  • Mercer County Master Gardeners
  • Jessica Yeager, Culinary Nutrition Educator

Cows Parade around 4pm (on cow time)

Bonfire is 5-7pm with s’mores by Mecha!

Take A Walk On The Wild(er) Side.

Take a walk into the pastures with one of our farmers and learn about grass-based sustainable farming and the making of delicious farmstead cheeses. Hint: it all starts with the pastures! We’ll cover the history of the farm, and why we started farming the way we do now.


Public Pasture walks are one hour long and cover all sorts of uneven ground. Wear appropriate footware and long pants, as we could be in long grass, wet ground, and all kinds of hillocks and tussocks. You may meet animals up close and personal.

$10 per person. Children 5 and under are free. No need for a reservation, but feel free to call ahead for a mud report!

The Cost of the Journey

Earlier this month, we send a survey to our customers asking for their thoughts and feedback about our store, the products we offer, and. what we could do differently to better serve the people who love and support the farm.

There was a lot of positive feedback about how we farm, the variety of products (from our farm and other local makers) that we offer. Many customers expressed a deep commitment to local food and farms. We asked for suggestions about products we could bring in to round out what we already offer, basically what would serve the folks who support the store.

In all that feedback, a few people mentioned prices, and suggested that lowering the prices of the meats, cheeses and items for resale would be welcomed. We thought that was an issue worth talking about because we understand that is where the rubber meets the road.

Our prices are indeed more than what you pay in a standard grocery store. The US has been blessed with very low food costs. Much of that is due to large-scale subsidized commercial agriculture. A small farm (like ours) reaps neither the benefits of subsidies, nor the economies of scale you find on large commercial farms. What the consumer sees in our store is real cost of production.

moving hay bales

Moving hay bales.

It might seem like raising animals on grass would be cheap. After all, you just let them out in the field and the grass keeps growing, right? Choosing to raise animals on grass is a quality-based decision, rather than cost-based. Cherry Grove Farm practices intensive rotational grazing. Our animals do not free range the large pastures, browsing at will, rather they are cordoned off in smaller sections of pasture so they graze more efficiently. Cows are moved sometimes multiple times in a day, to make sure the grass is grazed evenly and given time to rest and rejuvenate. This rotation also means that 1000 lb cows aren’t standing in the same place-for a long time, compacting the soils, crushing plant roots, and piling up manure (each of which are hard on plants and soils.) Kept moving, cows spread their manure, and graze, more evenly. Our cows become part time farmhands, doing some of our farm labor. But lacking opposable thumbs, they are not a help with much more than mowing and manure spreading. Moving a herd 1-2 times a day takes hands to move and set up mobile fences, reset water lines, bring out the hay in winter.

We also don’t have one large herd of cows. Effectively, we have three herds, as not all the cows are milked at once, or kept together. Unlike a conventional dairy where cows are kept pregnant and milking almost constantly, our cows get rest periods in between pregnancies (that is the “dry herd”). We have the milkers, the dry herd, and the cows that are too young, or not able to milk, both heifers and young bull calves. That is three herds to be moved daily, all to keep the land healthy and productive. Healthy land produces healthy forage, which in turn makes for healthy cows. The quality of milk (or meat) you get from a healthy grass-fed herd is significantly different from conventional herds and we rely on great milk to make our cheeses.

Hooping curds.

Hooping curds.

So, we begin with higher labor costs than a conventional farm, add on labor to make hay all season, minerals and animal health supplies, additional processing costs around cheese making and meat processing/packaging, and then set a price with a reasonable margin for profit, because without profit we cannot sustain the business.

Much the same goes for our resale products, made locally by small-batch producers. None of the makers who are sold through our farm are large scale producers. All struggle with the cost of quality ingredients and valuing their time to make an outstanding, healthy product.  They set wholesale prices to cover their costs and labor (plus a little profit) and we mark up on that. We could buy a more mass produced product for less per unit cost, but that would fly in the face of what we believe and what we profess to you, our customer. We support local makers to ensure they are still making clean healthy foods for all of us in the months and years to come.

It seems upside down that a small farm down the road would have to charge so much more than a huge faceless company that ships foods in from everywhere. But our national food system evolved in this way, with the deck stacked for large agribusiness. In order to raise and offer a superior product, and to stay in business, we have to cover our costs with enough profit to pay our staff and keep investing in the business… so that we can be here offering you clean healthy foods in the months and years to come.

It’s a journey and we are glad to have you with us.


1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
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