One Great Day in NJ: Johnson's Corner Farm
When it dawned on me that my son thought all food came from grocery stores, I decided a trip to Johnson’s Corner Farm was in order. Not only would he get to pick fruit and vegetables, but he’d also be able to see how they grew. I didn’t anticipate being at the farm for One (whole) Great Day, but that is exactly what happened. Because when we got there, we found out about the Discovery Barnyard, the EVOS Pathfinder, the Splash Pad and the Space Net. Johnson’s is some corner farm!
While purchasing our hayride tickets, we found out that all hay riders get discounted tickets to something called the Discovery Barnyard. It sounded like fun so we decided to check it out. Neither one of us were quite prepared for just how fun it was going to be.
One of the first things you see inside the Discovery Barnyard is a weird-looking climbing apparatus called an EVOS Pathfinder (suitable for ages 5 to 12), which offered a zillion different ways to climb, spin, balance, hang and slide. Whether hanging from the rope net, navigating his way through the hanging tires or mastering the rather odd slide, he was utterly involved. Not too far away was a Space Net--a big triangle-shaped rope climbing thing. We christened it “the Spider Web,” and my son had a blast pretending that he was a spider. (I suppose that made me the fly.)
Skipping the play areas designed for smaller children (ages 2 to 5), we moved on to the pedal go-track carts. There is a paved track for younger kids and a dirt track for older kids. My son thought it was great fun, and he pedaled his go-cart furiously until I begged him to stop so we could cool down. (Although the Barnyard has shade canopies and benches under trees, I was still getting a little hot.)
We headed over to the Splash Pad, where water from various size sprinklers were keeping kids (and adults) cool. After running around in the water, we headed to the back to feed the goats (All visitors get ears of dry corn to feed the animals when buying a ticket to the Barnyard) and play in the pretend grocery store.
After spying the rock climbing area, we headed over for some climbing practice. We started getting hot again so we cooled off in some nearby teepees. About that time, they announced that a hayride was getting ready to go out so we headed on over to the hayride area and boarded the tractor, which took us out to the fields to pick our blueberries, corn and peaches. (You can pick whatever is in season and pay by the pound when the tractor returns.) My son was thrilled to pick the low-hanging blueberries from the bushes, was a little freaked out by the tall corn stalks (we didn’t venture too far into the field because of that), and had to be held to pick peaches from the trees--but it was a great opportunity to talk about where food comes from and how it gets to the store. He even agreed to try peaches for the first time because he had picked them himself!
When we were finished picking and returned to the main area, we paid for our fruit and stowed it in the car. By now, we were starving--so we headed back to the Discovery Barnyard area and ordered some lunch and ice cream. (There is a limited menu of PB&J ham or turkey sandwiches, hot dogs, mini pizzas and cold drinks, but the ice cream and water ice options are fairly extensive.) After visiting the (very clean) bathroom, my son begged to play in the Discovery Barnyard again so back we went. Of all the things to do, his favorite was probably the EVOS Pathfinder and the go-karts.
Finally, my son admitted he was tired and ready to go. But first we stopped at the bakery and farm store to pick up some apple cider donuts (yum!!!) and some iced corn. The store is filled with delectable baked goods made on the premises, fruits and veggies, preserves, flowers, and ready-made meals ... as well as cookbooks, toys and candy. It was difficult to limit ourselves to just the donuts and corn, but our fatigue kept us from carrying more. Finally, we hopped in the car and drove home ... satisfied, tired and filled with yummy food. I can’t wait to go back for pumpkin picking!
It was only after I got home that I realized we had missed an entire section--the Animal Farm (home to goats, pigs and chickens) and the obstacle course area, which includes a rope made, pipe slides, tire climbs, balance beams and “Wacky Bridge.” I guess we’ll just have to go back to check it out. In fact, I’m considering having his birthday party there!
Check out the Johnson’s Corner Farm website to see what is in season and what activities are scheduled. The farm plants a little of everything-- starting with strawberries in May and ending with popcorn, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower in November. In addition, the farm has special holiday-themed events for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. October is one of the busiest months with Harvest Festival activities, and you can wind down summer by attending the Wednesday and Friday night BBQ parties, which offer reduced prices, music and BBQ. Call 609-654-8643 for more information and hours of all the various activities.