Many of you are familiar with Dreyer Farms in Cranford and Watchung Stables in Mountainside, but did you know there’s another farm in our area that has BOTH a vegetable farm and horses? It’s called Tiki Love Farm, and it’s one of those hidden gems that I just love discovering!
Located on Raritan Road next to Ashbrook Park in Scotch Plains, Tiki Love Farm is owned and operated by David and Lucy Pritzker, along with their sons Abraham (Abe) and Ben. Several of the Pritzkers had experience with farming and animal husbandry before starting Tiki Love. Lucy lived on a horse farm in Upstate New York after college. Abe went to a boarding school that had a working farm, and he gained considerable experience with sustainable farming and holistic agriculture. Ben has been horseback riding since he was about eight years old. With their shared love of horses and farming, the family started Tiki Love Farm in mid-2015.
But why start a farm of all things? According to Abe: “It has always been a family dream to live in the countryside on a small farm, so when the opportunity presented itself to us without having to move out of the area away from all of our friends, we swiftly took it. Our mission is to teach sustainable farming and to share our love of it.”
You might be wondering how an animal farm co-exists amid suburbs and right next to a county park. Abe said, “Tiki Love Farm is lucky to be situated in such a beautiful area in New Jersey, but we don’t take it for granted. We are meticulously careful about how we use our land. Part of sustainable farming is not taking more from the land than it can handle. The animals fertilize the fields by grazing on the them all day (if the weather is permitting). All of the manure from the horse stalls goes to our garden, so as not to pollute the gorgeous forest with harmful fertilizers.”
Caring for Tiki Love Farm takes a LOT of work and many hands. There are a lot of local folks–young ones especially–who are just dying to lend a hand and learn how to care for animals and farmland. Abe said, “We have a quite a few farm hands who range in age from eleven to sixteen. They are learning how to take care of animals in safe, sustainable, and loving ways. At Tiki Love Farm, we have three priorities: the safety of our human friends, the safety of our animals friends, and the long-lasting safety of our big friend mother nature. To ensure the safety of our farm hands, we have at least one responsible adult present at all times when there is someone at the barns, as well as numerous other safety measures. While many of the farmers at Tiki Love have critical experience with animals, if any of our horses are looking sick or are acting odd or unusual, we give a call to our veterinarian.”
Abe went on to assure all the animal lovers out there: “I cannot stress enough how imperative the issue of animal well-being is to us here at Tiki Love Farm. I can completely assure you that our animals have the highest quality of life possible.” Hence the word LOVE in the name of the farm!
So what does a typical day look like at Tiki Love Farm? To be sure, it’s a labor of love, but in the very best sense! Abe ran through their typical day for me: “First, we feed and water the horses, barn cats, and rabbits. Then the horses are let out to the fields where they peacefully graze all day. We have two miniature horses, one mini donkey, and two standard horses at the farm. The two standards are ridden practically everyday to get proper exercise and to give our riders practice. If it’s been a dry few days, we give the garden a quick spritz. We also pick any ripe crops. Since it’s still pretty early in the growing season, we haven’t gotten too much yet, but we are so excited for when we do! After all of the daily chores are done, we do odd jobs like fixing the fences, or building a new hutch for our three rabbits. Oftentimes we take the mini horses (and donkey) for a walk around the property. In the evening, we do our night chores, which typically are the same as the morning, just in reverse. We bring the animals in, make sure they are all doing well, give them night grain and water, and say good night!”
Would you ever have thought that a suburban family was living this kind of simple yet hardworking farm life right in our neck of the woods? The Pritzkers are a fine example of how we all can get back to nature and find joy in getting our hands dirty.
Visit the website http://tikilovefarm.com and go to the “contact us” section to schedule a visit to the farm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Pritzkers hope that more children and adults alike will want to volunteer on the farm. Abe said, “We will bring in anybody who wishes to put in the work for the most satisfying opportunity in the world.”
Don’t forget to follow Tiki Love Farm on Facebook for announcements of upcoming events on the farm!