Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Farmer Jones Blog Has Moved!

We've headed on over to Wordpress for our blog. So CLICK HERE and see what's going on over at the NEW Farmer Jones blog!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Did you know there is a way to help the Earth (and yourself) each and every day? Reduce, reuse, and recycle by creating a compost pile! Creating a compost pile helps reduce the amount of household waste that ends up in landfills. Composting also allows us to reuse kitchen scraps in the garden and recycle raw materials to create healthy new topsoil.

Compost is simply decomposed organic material, which can be either plant or animal matter. If you have ever walked in the woods on a blanket of fallen leaves, then you have seen composting at work. Plant and animal matter is constantly recycled in nature by worms, insects, and microscopic organisms to create rich soil that supports new life.

Decomposing organisms including bacteria, fungi, worms, sowbugs, and nematodes work together to break down organic matter into healthy soil. These organisms need four key elements to thrive: nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen. Rain provides moisture, but you may need to water or cover the pile to keep it damp (just be careful not to saturate the pile!). Turning or mixing the pile provides the organisms with oxygen, which allows them to work faster.

To create a compost pile, simply add food, air, and water. The key is getting the right mixture of brown materials (carbon) to green materials (nitrogen). The best combination is about 4 parts of “browns” to one part “greens” by volume. If we add too much brown material the compost pile will take a long time to break down. But adding too much green material creates a compost pile that is slimy and smelly. If you have a yard and like to eat, you have everything you need to provide your compost pile with these ingredients!

Sources of “brown” ingredients:
• Brown, dry leaves
• Dried grass
• Cornstalks (shredded)
• Straw
• Sawdust (only in moderation)

One secret to making compost faster, is to finely shred the carbon-rich ingredients such as leaves, hay, straw, paper and cardboard. Since the brown materials take the longest amount of time to break down, shredding them will significantly reduce the finishing time of compost.

Sources of “green” ingredients:
• Fresh (green) Grass clippings
• Fresh manure (horse, chicken, rabbit, cow)
• Kitchen scraps (fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags)
• Weeds (careful with the seed heads!)
• Green leaves
• Leftover fruits from the garden

* You can also add egg shells as a source of calcium!

Do Not Add:
• Meat, Fish, fat or oil, dairy products: Adding these materials is likely to attract unwanted visitors to your compost.
• Pet waste: This material may contain diseases that could be passed on to humans.
• Colored newsprint or paper: Even shredded, these materials may contain chemicals.

Compost works wonders in the garden because it improves the soil, which in turn will support healthier and more productive plants. Compost provides important nutrients that plants need to grow, and improves soil structure so that the soil holds enough air and water to support the plants and animals living in it. Healthy plants are more equipped to fight disease, which helps eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. As an added environmental benefit, composting reduces the amount of solid waste that would otherwise find its way to the garbage can. So do the environment and your taste buds a favor this year – start a compost pile and grow some food!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Little Off the Top

On cold spring mornings summer can seem like it's years away, but farmers know differently. Before long, buds will be bursting and we'll be in the midst of the New England growing season. If the upcoming berry seasons are going to be fruitful now is the time for prep work, and during the early spring our farmers have been helping the blueberries prepare for the coming harvest season with a little haircut.

How does pruning help the plant prodcue more berries? Blueberry fruit develops on woody canes produced in the previous season (one-year-old wood), and the fruiting wood will produce flower buds during the late summer. By pruning older or diseased canes and thinning the plant so that only the strongest canes remain, farmers and can help the plant concentrate its energy into producing the best tasting fruit. But there is an art form to successfully pruning a blueberry bush. When plants are pruned too lightly, they become dense with weak, twiggy growth. These plants will fail to develop strong new wood for future fruit production and will produce small fruit. But if the blueberry bushes are pruned too heavily, they will not be able to produce enough energy to grow strong new canes and create new blossoms.

Pruning blueberries is an important part of our annual spring work to keep our crops healthy and help the bushes produce larger amounts of good quality fruit. Once the blueberry plants are mature, this means pruning the bushes every year using loppers and hand pruners. With 15 acres of blueberries at Jones Family Farms, pruning has become a major spring project for our farmers. With the completion of blueberry pruning for this year, we've created several towering piles of old blueberry canes!

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Time to Bottle Wine

The Tasting Room is open for the 2011 season and brimming with wine! Throughout the winter our winemakers, Jamie Jones and Larry McCulloch, have been hard at work creating distinctive wines from the 2010 grape harvest.

All of our wines are made on the farm at the Jones Winery, in a renovated army building that was once part of the Nike Missile Project in the 1950's. Earlier this week we began bottling our 2010 vintage with Pinot Gris and Stonewall Chardonnay, and both wines are already available for sampling in the Tasting Room.

Our winemakers can bottle several hundred cases of wine in just one day using a bottling machine. Cases of bottles are loaded onto a conveyer belt, and one by one the bottles are pulled into a line. The machine cleans and sterilizes the bottles, fills them with wine, corks the top, presses the foil into a seal covering the cork, and wraps a label onto each bottle. We then load the bottles into boxes and transport them down the farm roads to our winery. So the bottle of wine that you purchase in the Tasting Room has traveled less than 1 mile from barrel to shelf!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let the Planting Season Begin!

After a long winter the farm is coming to life as a new season of planting begins. With 200 acres of land dedicated to growing Christmas trees, our farmers need to work quickly to plant all of our baby trees in March and April!

At Jones Family Farms we grow six varieties of Christmas trees from all over the country. Some of these tree varieties come to our farm as seeds while others arrive as small seedlings from nurseries. Many of these trees travel from different areas of the country, including Colorado, North Carolina, Vermont, and even New Mexico. Seeds and seedlings are planted in our tree nurseries, where the young trees gather nutrients from the soil to grow healthy and strong. Cover crops like winter rye help us to renew these soil nutrients and prevent erosion in the nurseries.

After a tree spends one to three years in the nursery (and is about 1 foot tall), our farmers will transplant it into one of our fields in place of a tree that was cut the previous Christmas. Every newly transplanted tree receives a ring of compost from our "Mulch Montain" to add extra nutrients to the soil and hold in moisture.

Our farmers will take care of these young trees for many years, protecting them from drought, disease, and hungry insects. Trees grow about one foot per year, so the Christmas trees you harvest in December are typically 8 to 12 years old!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pumpkin Season is Here!

With crisp nights and cool days, the pumpkins area ready for harvest! Visit the farm September 25th and 26th for our Pumpkin Preview Weekend at Pumpkinseed Hill, featuring hayrides, a corn maze, and over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds. The Harvest Yard features specialty varieties like pink pigs and speckled swans picked by our farmers. Or take a walk to one of our fields and harvest a pumpkin straight from the vine.

From 12-4 pm all weekend, we will also be celebrating local winners of Connecticut Magazine’s “Best of CT 2010.” Liquid Lunch (Best Connecticut Soup), Stockbridge’s Cheesecake (Best Connecticut Cheesecake), and Jones Winery (Best Connecticut Wine) will be in the courtyard outside the Jones Winery for tastes of their delicious products. Meet our winemaker, Larry McCulloch, as he takes farm guests on a guided tour through the demonstration vineyard. Or sample some of Stone Gardens’ vegetables at the height of the Connecticut harvest. Visit the farm events page for details. We look forward to seeing everyone this weekend for the kickoff of pumpkin season!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Field of White Flowers

The buckwheat flowers are blossoming! Besides offering a beautiful view, cover crops play a huge role in sustainably managing our land. Buckwheat has been used to help control weeds and build soil health on New England farms for over 400 years!

Cover crops are used in crop rotations to limit soil erosion and slow the runoff of water during heavy rains. They also naturally help suppress weeds while reducing insect pests and diseases in the fields. If our farmers planted the same crop repeatedly on any piece of land, the plants would quickly become a prime target for their specific pests and diseases. By rotating families of plants over the course of several seasons, farmers limit this problem by changing the habitat. A Colorado potato beetle might devour potatoes, tomatoes, or eggplants, but it fees less at home in a field of buckwheat. Diversity strengthens communities in nature and the agricultural fields!

Buckwheat can also act as a “green manure” when the plants are tilled into the soil. The organic matter found in these plants is quickly broken down by earthworms and microorganisms to help build the soil. The plant’s root system also opens up passageways that help air and water move through the soil. At Jones Family Farms, we plant and till buckwheat into pumpkin fields, tree nurseries, and even our Harvest Kitchen garden.

Not only does buckwheat improve the soil, it also offers food and shelter for beneficial insects. Visit any of our buckwheat fields in the early morning and the air vibrates with the sounds of bees, flies, and beetles moving over the little white flowers. The leaves create a home for beneficial insects as they search for pest insects in the fields, while buckwheat flowers provide pollen and nectar for important pollinators. And without pollinators such as honeybees and native bees, we wouldn’t be able to harvest strawberries, blueberries, or pumpkins on the farm. Those buckwheat fields truly keep our farm growing through the seasons.

Farmer Shannon

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cultivate a Taste for the Blues

The dog days of summer are here and the blueberries continue to ripen across our 15 acres of blueberry fields. At Jones Farm we grow five varieties of highbush blueberries that ripen at different stages of the blueberry season, so there are always berries to pick until the very end.

How did we get all of these varieties? During the early 20th century, a horticulturalist named Elizabeth White domesticated the wild blueberry that grew in her home state of New Jersey. In 1911, White teamed up with botanist Frederick Coville joined forces and by 1916 they had developed 68,000 hybrids! They chose six of the plants they considered best for commercial production, and the modern highbush blueberry was born. At Jones’ we grow Patriot, Bluejay, Blueray, Bluecrop, and Coville.

This summer’s heat waves have caused the berries to ripen earlier than usual, and their flavor is incredible. Check out the Harvest Kitchen’s recipe guide for ideas about blueberry care, freezing, and fresh new recipes.

In addition to blueberry harvesting, pumpkin weeding, and Christmas tree pruning, the Jones farmers are working hard to prepare for a huge event at the beginning of August. Jones Family Farms will be hosting the 50th meeting of the CT Christmas Tree Grower’s Association at our Homestead Farm. The fourth generation of the family, Philip Jones, served as the association’s first president, and after fifty years the annual meeting is returning to its original site.

Philip will be honored at this year’s event, and he has been named Honorary Chairman for this historic meeting. Tree growers from all over New England will spend several days touring the farm, speaking with scientists from the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, and enjoying our beautiful corner of Connecticut. We’re looking forward to a fun and busy weekend!

See you in the fields!

Farmer Shannon

(Top photograph courtesy of Farmer Katrina)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Harvest Kitching Cooking Studio Announces 2010 Schedule

Last year The Harvest Kitchen debuted here at Jones Family Farms. Cooking classes taught with a focus on healthy and local eating were shared with guests as they got hands-on experience, often taking the vegetables directly from the garden straight into the kitchen!

2010 promises to bring even more fun and education to your kitchen table.

You can visit the Harvest Kitchen webpage and download a PDF of the entire class schedule. But some examples of what is being offered this year are as follows:

Bread Basics
Homemade bread is the best way to warm the kitchen and nourish your family. Learn simple ways to incorporate bread baking into your weekly schedule and enjoy whole grains every day.
Menu: Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, Crusty No-Knead Bread, Elegant Baguette, and Versatile Flatbread

Healthy Kitchen Seminar Series

Join our farm nutritionist and favorite home cook, Jean Crum Jones, for a four-week seminar series on healthy eating. Learn how to transform your kitchen into a more enjoyable, delicious, and nourishing environment. Classes will include a cooking demonstration, discussion, and food tastings.

A Fresh Take on Spring
Use herbs to add fresh flavor and excitement to your meals, year-round.
Menu: Bruschetta, Hand-rolled Gnocchi with Assorted Pestos, Herb Frittata, Black Bean Cakes with Spicy Cilantro, and Rosemary Polenta

Splendid Strawberries
Use fresh strawberries as the basis for a unique, delicious summer meal!
Menu: Flatbread with Balsamic Strawberry Sauce, Strawberry and Spinach salad, Duck with Strawberry Sauce and Creamy Polenta, Strawberry shortcake cookies, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

We hope to see you at the Kitchen!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter Sunrise Service 2010 Info

Sun, 04/04/2010 - 6:30am - 7:15am

Watch the sunrise from the top of the farm's hill during the annual ecumenical Easter Sunrise service. It's a beautiful and peaceful way to begin your Easter celebration. Several pastors from Shelton's church community lead different parts of the service.

After you park at the main parking lot at our Homestead Farm, you can walk up to the hilltop. Remember to dress warmly because it is often breezy - but exhilerating!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Some Winter Work

While during the winter we don't invite the public to come share in our crops, the farm never truly sleeps.

This winter we have a lot of projects keeping us busy and one of the big projects is tree management.

Yes, we have to tend to our 200 acres of Christmas trees, but all the other natural trees on our property need that as well.

Here's a short video of some big work we've been doing here including taking down some cedar trees to make room for a new Christmas tree nursery as well as taking down our big beautiful maple tree in the valley that had become very ill.

What kind of yard work are you all doing this winter?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ask Farmer Jones

How many Christmas trees do you have? Where do all those pumpkins grow? How long has the family been living in Shelton? What's the recipe for those chocolate-chip cranberry cookies at Christmas time? Who does the designs for the wine labels?

Questions we get all the time. But, what about YOU? Do you have a question you'd like Farmer Jones to answer? Well, now's your time to ask!

As the farm prepares to SPRING into action, Farmer Jones will take some time out, from time to time, to answer YOUR questions right here on the Jones Farmer Blog!

So, ask away! You can email your questions to and then keep checking back here at the blog to see when Farmer Jones submits his answers!

Note that only questions for the Farmer Jones blog will be answered. This email is not for contacting the farm.

Enjoy Spring!

-Farmer Keith

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The farmers at Jones Family Farms in Shelton, CT have been in touch with some of the elves at the North Pole and the jolly old elf has cleared his schedule to come visit with all his friends from 10am to 4pm on Saturday December 19th and Sunday December 20st.

Santa’s Annual Family Weekend at the farm will include time for kids of all ages to spend time with Santa and have their traditional pictures taken with St. Nick. A special performance from the Christmas show at CenterStage Theater in Shelton will take place at 12pm on Saturday. Also, each day will have carol sing-a-longs, Frosty’s Christmas Parade, crafts for the kids and more.

Jones Family Farms would appreciate anyone who could bring a canned food or non-perishable food item to the farm that weekend. The farm will bring the food to the Valley Food Bank after the weekend is over.

Jones will also be open for harvest-your-own and pre-cut trees, wreaths, garland, tree stands, pine cones, kissing balls and other traditional Christmas d├ęcor. Guests will find unique gifts in the Holiday Gatherings gift shop and be able to purchase and sample some of Jones Winery’s award-winning wines, including the special Holiday Labeled bottles.

Jones Family Farms is open daily through Christmas Eve, 9:00am – 5:30pm (4pm close on the 24th). Directions and more information about Jones Family Farms can be found by visiting their website and/or Facebook Page at or by calling Farmer Jones’ crop report number (203) 929-8425.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Keith Bishop Bales Trees

Here this past Monday to pay off his friendly Facebook Battle loss, Keith Bishop is shown how to bale trees by Jamie Jones. Check out all the fun on

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some New Christmas Music

Hello gang! Jones Family Farms & Winery's own David Oxford has a new Christmas CD out for this holiday season! It's a great CD full of classics and you can listen to "A Smooth Jazzy Jivin' Ebony Ivory Christmas" here and find it online and at the Holiday Gatherings gift shop for purchase soon!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Website Launched!

It's finally here. After months and months of work, the new and improved has launched, just in time for Christmas season!

The harvest your own tree fields and the Holiday Gatherings gift shop open today, November 21st and the pre-cut trees will be coming into the Barnyard next week. Wreathes are here for you in our Fireplace Barn and the Winery is open and has the new Holiday Labels for sale.

So, check out our new website and let us know what you think, then come on up and visit us for your traditional Christmas needs. We're open every day from 9am - 5:30pm (closed on Thanksgiving).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Just a reminder that Jones Family Farms in Shelton, CT will be seen this Wednesday (Nov 11th) at 9PM EST on Throwdown With Bobby Flay on the Food Network. The entire show was filmed on Jones Family Farms this past September.

From the Food Network’s website: “Michele Albano of Michele's pies in Norwalk, CT is taking the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie to new heights with her newest creation, the decadent Maple Pumpkin with Pecan Streusel Pie. Michele has won many awards for her delicious pies, but she has never had to compete against an Iron Chef. Stay tuned to see whose pie will squash the competition!”

Also, we are just past our halfway mark for the Facebook Challenge between Jones Family Farms and Bishop’s Farm in Guilford. The farms are vying to see who can get the most new Facebook fans between Oct 22nd and Thanksgiving. Both farms have reached their goals of 2500 new fans each and $5000 total will be donated by the farms to The Valley United Way, The Guilford Community Fund and the Working Lands Alliance.

However, bragging rights are still up for grabs! The farmer with less new fans by Thanksgiving will travel to the winning farm and put in a good honest days work during the Christmas season.

The best part of this competition has been the fan interaction on the Facebook pages. People have been recounting favorite memories and family traditions here at the farm and it’s really special to be able to share in all of that. It’s also fun to see the pride people have in our farm, they want us to win. We have a nice Facebook community now and hopefully more people will continue to join before Thanksgiving – bragging rights are always fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Families dressed in costume are invited to come spend a classic crisp autumn day at Jones Family Farms’ Pumpkinseed Hill for their annual UNICEF Family Festival from 10am – 4pm on Saturday October 24 and Sunday the 25th. Games and crafts for kids will include pumpkin painting and button making. Face painting, beanbag tosses, funny fortunetellers, entertainment and more will be available for families to enjoy. All of this added onto the hayrides, corn maze and of course pumpkin picking makes for a fun adventure – all while benefiting the UNICEF organization.

Celebrating Connecticut’s own P.T. Barnum and the circus, the Jones Family Farms has transformed Pumpkinseed Hill into a circus themed event. Sets remind people of circus animal houses, feature paintings of trained seals and dancing bears, fun photo opportunities abound where you can have your picture in a classic farm setting, as a box of Animal Crackers, as Barnum’s Swedish Nightingale – Jenny Lind or Tom Thumb and even riding an elephant!

Entertainment will take place on the Barnum Sideshow Stage throughout the weekend. Led by the Jones Family Farm Ringmaster both days will feature fun farm kid shows and characters in costumes. Saturday performances will include champion pumpkin carver Bob Bonazzo, magician Bryan Lizotte, musician Mike “The Muffin Man” Binck, and Sunday spotlights the return of performers from Center Stage Theater in Shelton. Gina Scarpa, director at Center Stage, said: "Center Stage is thrilled to be back performing at Jones Family Farms for the second year in a row. The Jones Family have always been incredible supporters of Center Stage and we are happy to be able to be able to give back and perform for the UNICEF festival!"

What about the pumpkins? Well, thanks to innovative growing methods, Jones Family Farm is full of them! The farm grows over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds on their farm. While many farms have had lesser crops than usual, or bring in crops from other areas – the Joneses are happy to report that all their pumpkins are grown right on the property and they have a big beautiful supply for everyone. Take a hayride out to pick one out of the fields or pick your beauty from the main sales yard. Select some great squash varieties for cooking your autumn meals out of the Jones Family Farms Express Circus Train filled with squash such as; buttercup, ambercup, delicatta, acorn and more.

Do you have a circus strong man in the family? The All-You-Can-Carry pumpkin special will be in full gear for UNICEF weekend. Help load up the arms of a member of your family and all the pumpkins they can carry across the finish line will only total $29! “The all-you-can-carry is a great way for guests to share the harvest with folks who may be homebound and help the UNICEF mission” said farmer Terry Jones.

Since 1985, the Jones Family has invited families to come enjoy their autumn harvest and have fun at the festival all while helping UNICEF. With the help of the community the farm has been able to donate well over $85.000 to UNICEF over the years and hopes people will come help do it again.

Jones Family Farms, where memories are ALWAYS in season, is located in Shelton, Connecticut, off Route 110 - 5 miles North of Shelton Center and 2 miles south of the junction of Route 110 and 111 in Monroe. For more hours, directions and other information call the Farmer Jones crop-info line – (203) 929-8425 or visit the Jones website and blog at: You can also follow Jones Family Farms on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009



Farmers spend their entire lives cultivating - apples, vegetables, Christmas trees, pumpkins, squash, pears, and these days – Facebook fans. Two popular Connecticut farms are curious as to who can grow the largest crop of Facebook fans by this Thanksgiving.

Keith Bishop of Bishop’s Orchards ( in Guilford and Jamie Jones of Jones Family Farms and Winery ( in Shelton are willing to put some charitable money where their mouths are that they can find the most fans. Both farms have fan bases of over 1000 fans already on Facebook and are looking to make those numbers grow.

For every fan that joins their respective Facebook pages between Thursday October 22nd and 8:00am on Friday November 27th (day after Thanksgiving) the two farms have dedicated themselves to donate $1 each (up to a maximum of 5000 fans total between the two farms) to charities of their choosing. Those are the numbers the contest will start at. The friendly battle doesn’t end there however. The second place owner will travel to the winning farm and put in a good honest days work during the Christmas season. As of 8:00 AM on Thursday October 22nd, Jones Family Farms had a total of 1119 fans and Bishop’s Orchards had 1437 fans, those numbers are the start point for the contest.

Bishop’s Orchards will be donating to the Guilford Community Fund, while Jones Family Farms has selected to donate to the Valley United Way. Both farms will also donate a portion of the funds to the Working Land’s Alliance.

The Working Lands Alliance is a CT project of American Farmland Trust. Founded in 1980, American Farmland Trust has helped win permanent protection for over a million acres of American farmland. AFT's hard work and sound strategies unite farmers, environmentalists and policymakers.

The Valley United Way's ( mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. Valley United Way will measurably improve the lives of people in our community through: Philanthropy, volunteerism and collaboration – Working with others to build coalitions that leverage resources to address identified community priorities.

The Guilford Community Fund ( exists to assist the Guilford community by providing a single entity through which donors can make contributions to support those non-profit organizations best qualified to serve Guilford residents in need. The GCF serves 20 non-profit service agencies and organizations. These organizations provide vital services to Guilford and its residents of all ages from babies to senior citizens.

Fans have been flocking to local farms for years and as the world of technology grows, farms and farmers grow right along with it. The use of Facebook for local farms is a great way to get word out to people who truly want to know what’s going on. Whether Jones Family Farms asking fans to post photos of their visits to the pumpkin patch or Bishop’s Orchards spreading the news of their green initiatives, the use of Facebook to talk to their consumers is a priceless tool. Word-of-mouth advertising helps farms thrive and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow the spreading of the word even further. So login to Facebook and show your support for your favorite farm and in the process help out some worthy causes.