ALLIANCE HISTORIC MODEL FARM
Our first season comes to an end
In 2022 ACRe was awarded a Salem County History Grant to build the first Alliance Historic Model Farm.
After a successful and fun first season beginning Spring 2022, we are winding down operation for the winter. We will continue to update our social media with photos and announcements, and we will post a schedule for the 2023 season.
Pittsgrove Township, NJ is the site of the Alliance Colony, the first Jewish farming community in America, established in 1882. In researching primary sources we learned which crops were cultivated by the settlers in the late 1800s—grapes, watermelons, sweet potatoes, blackcaps and berry bushes, among others— including those grown by community leader Moses Bayuk on the land surrounding his austere manor atop the hill at Gershal and Shiff Avenues. On this very site, ACRe seeks to replicate a Historic Alliance Model Farm, incorporating the same fruits and vegetables grown by the Jewish settlers of Alliance 5 generations ago, and provide seasonal educational tours.
Meet the Model Farm Team
ACRe Master Gardener
Ahron has been planning the Alliance Historic Model Farm since before we even had a farm. You can thank him for conceiving the Passover Garden, Herb Garden and Bayuk "Cigarden."
Experimental Farm Network
If there's one thing Nate loves, it's a challenge. When we asked Nate if he wanted to grow the original crops the Alliance settlers cultivated at the end of the 19th century, using their actual old tools, Nate said "HELL YES."
He thought he would end up far away from Alliance, but the draw of bucolic farm life pulled Nick back in. Now he has mastered growing tobacco, among other crops, and will help us with our Model Farm.
The Four Gardens
Dedicated to the crops and methods grown by the settlers of Alliance in 1882. Common produce were sweet potatoes, blackberries, grapes, watermelon and more.
We will grow varieties of vegetables that are integral to the Passover seder meal as celebrated in the countries and traditions of the Alliance settlers and their patrons. Horseradish is common for maror, the bitter herb. Parsley is used for karpas here in America, but in Germany it is common to use radishes.
Herbs and spices for healing and Jewish rituals. The fragrant spices are called besamim in Hebrew. Lemon balm and shiso mint are two herbs that grow wild here in Alliance NJ.
A tribute to the little known history of tobacco in Alliance. The settlers built a cigar factory at the corner of Gershal and Eppinger Aves and called it "Castle Garden" for the immigration station in Battery Park Manhattan where they arrived in the United States in 1881. And Alliance leader Moses Bayuk's sons Max, Meyer and Sam founded Bayuk Brothers Cigar Company in Philadelphia at the turn of the century.
Nate's Manure Spreader
Can we convert it into a raised garden bed? The answer will be posted in December 2022.
Update December 2022: We think we could have converted the manure spreader into a semi-mobile relocatable garden bed, to move with the sunlight. Instead we decided to keep it simple and use it to display ornamental flowers grown by our Junior Farmer Nick Mesiano. We will also use it to hold extra bags of raised garden mix compost generously donated by Espoma Organic.
Is it possible to cultivate ramps? ACRe Master Gardener Ahron Moeller thinks so. Watch the Tu B'Shevat Zoom discussion.
Update December 2022: Some of the ramp bulbs we planted in spring 2021 did sprout! But the real success will come if those bulbs propegate and spread on their own. This remains to be seen in 2023.
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Heard it through the grapevine
Alliance Colony leader Moses Bayuk grew grapes. Photo from Moses Klein's memoires in Migdal Zophim, the Watch Tower, 1889.
We plan to grow our own Model Vineyard in 2023!
We experimented with a raised Hugelkultur garden bed in our cold-frames in 2020-21. We grew some impressive tomatoes, yellow zuccini, mint and parsley. We will definitely incorporate this method into a portion of our Alliance Historic Model Farm.
Here is a short Instagram video of us building the cold-frame garden beds in 2018. We used old wood pallets, replaced house windows and wood from 100-year old chicken coops on the property.
1. Rotting wood
The wood decomposes over time, releasing nutrients into the soil and retaining moisture so very little watering is required.
2. Dead leaves
Fills around the wood to speed up the decomposition.
This will be very healthy soil with plenty of microbiology!
We thank Espoma for sponsoring our Model Farm with compost and other soil amendments! Espoma have supported our garden projects since our beginning in 2016.
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, through the Salem County Board of County Commissioners & The Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission.