In 1873, Isaiah Stokes headed out on a ship to America from his home in England. When he arrived, he purchased 40 acres of land in Old Tappan, New Jersey, where he started a farm. He thought this would be a good location for selling produce, as Old Tappan is very close to New York City, as well as many established towns along the Hudson River. His products included chickens, eggs, milk, hay, asparagus, beets and other assorted vegetables. As time went on, his son, Joseph Stokes, took over the farming. The Stokes family continued sowing and growing into the early 1900s. Joseph Stokes and his wife, Anna, worked very hard and soon developed a produce route through Piermont, Nyack, and points further north along the river. They were one of the first farms to have a truck in the area when farms were still powered by men and horses.
Joe Stokes had one child, Madeline, who married Ernie Binaghi in 1927. Madeline ran the farm, and Ernie was a carpenter. The farm carried on through World War II. Madeline and Ernie had one child, Ronald, who, after dropping out of NYU music school in the early 1950s, came home to help out with the chores. Ron married Jean, and she moved in to the farmhouse to become a farmer, too. In 1955, they opened a roadside farm stand, which was a four post open air shed. The stand did well, selling from the five acres of strawberries, five acres of tomatoes, in addition to peppers, eggplant, and asparagus. As the years went on, Ron and Jean started selling produce at the Paterson Farmers Market. It was here that a farmer could sell his produce directly to the consumer, or to wholesalers. The farm stand was rebuilt in 1966.
In the early 1970s, the energy crunch started and the farm stand began to flounder. It was then that Bob Lewis came to visit Ron and Jean with a proposal. He asked them to participate in the first NYC Greenmarket at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue. So in 1976, Ron and his 16-year-old son, Ron Jr., ventured into the big city. Their lives were changed that day. After the people bought everything on the truck, Ron Sr. was heard to say, “Is there a famine in this city?” Ron Jr., then 16, started selling produce at the now famous Union Square market on 17th Street, and it seemed that this type of market suited the farm quite well. Greenhouses were built in the 1980s, and the bedding plant business started to thrive.
High-tech growing, coupled with practical family values, helped the farm to grow steadily into the 1990s. Ron Jr. and his wife, Jeanine, took over the day-to-day operations of the farm and the Greenmarket stands, while Ron Sr. and Jean continued to run the farm stand. In 2000, Ron Jr. was named Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year for the state of New Jersey. This award is given to a farmer who has made his farm better over the years and also is active in his community. Ron went to Indiana to the national competition, where he placed 5th in the nation.
Today, the farm is 17 acres with 40,000 square feet of greenhouses. Ron and Jeanine have 4 children and one of them, Ron III, is a partner and runs his own Greenmarket stand at Lincoln Center. Ron III, like his grandfather, also left music school to become a farmer. He still sings every week at church, and his wife, Christina, has come on board to also work at Stokes Farm. Ron III & Christina recently welcomed a son, Ronald Binaghi IV, into the world in October 2010.
It is our goal to grow the best possible product to keep our customers healthy and happy, and to keep our land as a farm for future generations.