Middlesex Co. Earth Center sets open house

AFP Correspondent

SOUTH BRUNSWICK (July 1, 2016) — Farmers, backyard vegetable gardeners and fans of Jersey Fresh produce from around central New Jersey are invited to attend an open house at Middlesex County’s Earth Center, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20.
The Earth Center, a natural preserve of several hundred acres, sits on the borders of South and North Brunswick.
The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 21.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service for Middlesex County’s offices are located there, inside Davidson’s Mill Pond Park at 42 Riva Ave.
The day will be filled with activities for the family, including garden tours, presentations and showcases on gardening, landscaping and live music. The day will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Rutgers University, founded in 1766 on George Street in New Brunswick as Queens College.  
“It’s an open invitation to learn about everything from gardening to biological controls, 4-H programs, the vegetable and herb gardens will be open,” said Bill Hlubik, a plant pathologist and director of the Middlesex County Extension office.
“We’ll have tours and Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions,” he said, noting some of the field research for development of the new Rutgers 250 tomatoes was done here.
“We’ll have the new RU scarlett strawberries here and various new varieties of hazel nuts will be here as well,” Hlubik said.
Youngsters can enjoy fishing in Davidson’s Mill Pond, face painting and a variety of other activities to keep them engaged,“and we’ll also have a case of Jersey Fresh, so we’ll be handing out free sweet corn and tomatoes all day and showing people how best to cook produce, and we’ll show you how best to harvest crops as well. Farmers know how to harvest stuff at the key times,” he said.
“We’ll also have a few lectures through the day on pest management practices and other related topics for gardeners and smaller farmers,” he said.
Backyard gardeners and smaller farmers are invited to compete in contests for biggest tomato, biggest cucumber, biggest squash and watermelon and longest gourd.
Patrons are also free to compete in another contest for any vegetable that has the best likeness to a celebrity of historical figure.
“We invite everybody to bring out their best produce and we’ll have some kind of prize for each category,” Hlubik said, adding he’s working with an associate to put together a Beginning Farmer talk inside the air conditioned classrooms at the Earth Center.  
“We’ll show people how they can get started on a small scale,” he said.
Throughout the event, the Extension’s Agriculture Office and Rutgers Master Gardeners will offer advice on horticulture and environmental stewardship while guiding visitors through various teaching gardens and learning projects.
“Garden Field Day is a day of fun for the whole family,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios in a news release.
“It’s a great way to learn about gardening and enjoy the park and warm summer weather.”
Many exhibitors who collaborate with Middlesex County Extension throughout the year will be on hand to share their programs and accomplishments. For more information, call 732-398-5268 or visit