Matarazzo Farms, one of the last working farms in Northern New Jersey and one of the oldest businesses in the Caldwells, is for sale.
The five-acre property with a pond is listed for $2.5 million. The land is currently zoned for housing.
The in North Caldwell for more than 90 years. However, third-generation farmer and current owner Jim Matarazzo said the business has not been profitable for the past three to four years.
Matarazzo blames the downturn in the economy. He said people have been cutting back on their discretionary spending for gardens and plants in these hard times.
The former mayor of North Caldwell said he doesn’t want to sell, but he feels it’s time.
“I love being here. A lot of my customers are like family to me,” Matarazzo said this week. “The best part of the business was people who planted gardens and who did decorative urns and herb gardens.”
He said Home Depot has hurt his business as have local garden centers in the area.
He has many loyal customers, some who have been coming to the Mountain Avenue farm stand for 30 or 40 years. Those customers aren’t doing as much gardening as they used to, he said.
Matarazzo is currently involved with 10 farmers markets in the area to compensate for the slowing business.
“People are simply not coming to local farm stands as often as they used to,” he said. “In this society, people eat out more often or order in. The public has downscaled on cooking at home. This has really hurt business.“
Even though he has put the farm on the market, Matarazzo said he “would rather have business turn around than have to sell.”
He added, “I was hoping after the recession that business would pick up. Now, a wet cool spring is hurting business because people don’t want to plant or garden in this weather.”
The farm has been in his family since 1921 and has diminished from 125 acres to the current five acres.
Many of the newly built McMansions that surround Matarazzo Farms (nearly 80 of them) are on land that the family has sold off gradually over the years.
''Whenever we’ve had a sluggish season, we’ve sold off a few more acres,'' Matarazzo explained.
Some things haven’t changed. Matarazzo has remained a family farm with Jim’s wife and sister currently managing the produce stand while he runs the business. They still plant herbs and heirloom tomatoes, but much of the rest of their produce is brought in fresh from other local farms.
Matarazzo said he plans to stay in the area part-time once he sells the property.
He said he anticipates staying open all this year.