From sunrise to sunset- one Jersey farmer puts in the time to see his passion grow
At the end of a long work day, Charles Bouchelle spends a few moments checking in on his crops before the sun goes down.
He’ll inspect the conditions and make a mental note of the work that needs to be completed the following day.
For Bouchelle, seeing the final product come together is what makes his hard work all worth it.
“I remember late February like it was yesterday,” Bouchelle said. “That’s when we started seeding. Now it’s come full circle and you’re harvesting — that’s what I like to see.”
Bouchelle runs a family owned business Original Columbus, a 15-acre farm complete with vegetables and flowers in Columbus, New Jersey. The land formerly operated as a 200-acre dairy farm that belonged to his wife’s family.
Farming isn’t Bouchelle’s primary responsibility. He works full-time for Verizon, while he tends to the farm before and after work — he wakes up around 4 a.m. during the summer seasons to juggle the two jobs.
“I get more satisfaction in the farming,” Bouchelle said. “You see the fruits of your labor directly and you’re working for yourself.”
His farm, which he operates with the help of his wife, son and daughter, produces fresh greens in the beginning of the season, like lettuce, kale, radishes and beets. In the middle of the summer, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, and onions are harvested.
They also sell peaches and blueberries, which they purchase from local growers in South Jersey.
Right now, their hottest item seems to be their beets.
“We’ve kind of got a following. I’ve recently read that beets have become the ‘in’ thing — maybe leaving kale in the dust,” he said with a laugh.
Bouchelle never imagined he’d become a farmer. He said the occupation “struck him like a truck.”
He started out gardening. His hobby then shifted to a full-time job after he planted around 35 tomato plants. Once they ripened, he started selling them on a little road stand on his property.
“People would stop and buy them,” he said. “I kind of got a kick out of that … and well the rest is history.”
Original Columbus’ products can be purchased at their road stand on their property, located at 22975 Columbus Road in Columbus, or at Belmar Fresh from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays until Sept. 2.