Nestled in the beautiful hills of the Watchung mountain range, Hillview Farms is a quaint, old fashioned, and yet up-to-date working farm with a family history that spans 5 generations. Bought by Valentine Knickel in 1865, the property has been a truck farm, where fruit and vegetables were sold by way of a “huckster” route in cities; a poultry/egg producing farm with egg deliveries in nearby towns; and now a 57-acre horticulturally diverse establishment, featuring a roadside market, Pick-Your-Own fruits, vegetables, and flowers, free-ranging chickens and peacocks, and much more.
The history of Hillview is evident in the old sheds and machinery still in the farmstead. Some older machines are still used in the everyday tasks at the farm, as are newer tractors and implements used to produce some of the finest apples, peaches, blueberries, and all type of vegetables. Starting with asparagus and rhubarb in may and going through October with all the fall harvest goodies, Hillview is a small gem of rural atmosphere in the suburban bustle in which we live. Home baked pies, our own honey produced by Rin’s bees, and free-range eggs are just a few of the attractions that make this farm a destination for families who want to appreciate the small-farm experience.
At Hillview, we feel that mixing the old with the new brings satisfaction to all. While still clinging to some of our favorite older varieties of apples (Macoun 1923, Empire, 1968, Winesap, 1800s) we are always replanting with the newest and best available to us. Notable “new” apples at the farm are cameo, Honeycrisp, Suncrisp (farmer Skeeter’s favorite), and Bumpy Mac (a highly colored and superior flavored Macintosh.)
The same holds true for the peach orchards, where Sunhigh and Redhaven are still grown with pride and are the workhorses of peach production on the east coast. However, most of the newer peach varieties are coming out of Michigan and California and are making their way into our planting schemes. Most notable are the “piento” or flat peaches which we have embraced and promote as some of the best flavored and most versatile peaches in the New Jersey fruit breeding program.
Add to all this, the sights, sounds, and smells of rural farm life just 20 miles from New York City, and it’s not too hard to figure out why Hillview Farms has the following that it does. Come see for yourself.