HILLSDALE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Bergen County’s last pick-your-own apple and peach farm should be around for a long time to come, thanks to a couple of longtime employees who’ve taken over.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, the Demarest family had been growing items such as apples, peaches, pumpkins, tomatoes and eggplants in Bergen County since 1886.

Elizabeth Demarest, 90, could have sold the farm for big bucks, but she didn’t want to see McMansions sprouting up on her 34 acres in Hillsdale and Saddle River.

“It would have killed me,” she said.

The family agreed to preserve the land and sold it to Jason DeGise and Jim Spollen, who started working at Demarest Farm as teenagers. They’re now in their 40s.

DeGise handles retail. Spollen prefers the fields.

“You have to have a passion for it,” Spollen said. “Now we’re taking it over, so we’re investing in it. My life’s been invested in it. My family works here — my children, my wife. My sisters worked here. It’s not just a job; it’s a livelihood, a way of life.”

They see a real growth opportunity.

“Now there’s a big, in the last 10 years, (movement) back to local, farm to table,” DeGise said. “And the younger generation’s really being taught that in school.”

Demarest said, in a way, the farm really is staying in the family.

“They just belong here, and they both are in the place where their passion lies,” she said. “So it’s a perfect match. I’m very proud of them. It’s a good thing.”


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