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Crane Farm Carries on Tradition With Fresh Produce

A farmstand at a small family farm off South Maple Avenue is open each season from May through October, and usually into November.

Just a single trip to a farmstand such as the one owned by on the roadside along South Maple Avenue and just south of Lord Stirling Stable, isn't really enough to appreciate all of the fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and other farm products that the seven-acre farm will put out on display this season.

A sign inside the stand advertises some of the products that are mostly in season at this time — but that list changes between the time the farmstand opens full-time on May 1 and closes on Oct. 31.

The fall season usually continues beyond, with the seven-day schedule reduced to just weekends into November, said Doris Mertz, whose husband Tyson Mertz is the main farmer on the property.

Just some of the produce available now include summer squash, zucchini, frying and green peppers, basil, sunflowers and tomatoes — many different types. The farm's signature crop are its "flavorful" heirloom tomatoes, Doris Mertz said.

Not everything for sale at the farmstand has been grown at Crane's, although what isn't usually isn't from too far away. But there are plenty of crops planted on fields that surround the farmstand.

Along with what's ripening now, Doris Mertz said that crops such as broccoli and cauliflower already are growing in another field, and will be ready for harvest in the fall.  

Two generations of the Crane family previously owned and farmed the property at 270 S. Maple Ave., which she said was never was larger than it is now.

Doris Mertz said her husband, who grew up in Basking Ridge, worked for Elmer Crane, who lived with his family on a farmhouse that still stands on the property.

She said that her husband later rented the farm from the Crane family, and then from other government owners. The township purchased the land, and resold the property to Somerset County, which now maintains it as green space, she said.

Doris Mertz described herself as the "farmer's wife," running the stand and helping in the field when needed. Other farmstand employees sometimes help pick vegetables when they are needed, she said. 

Doris and Tyson Mertz live in the Gillette section of nearby Long Hill Township, and other local faces are at the farmstand. One of the employees is Angel Hand, a Basking Ridge resident.

Editor's Note: This is the first of stories in the Basking Ridge Patch that will feature farm stands and farmer's markets in our area now open and selling fresh items to the public. Please let us know if you can suggest a good choice for another story.

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