The Korean pears at Evergreen Farm are famous.
“They have a good pear, that’s why we came here,” said Michele Zhand, who took an hour and a half bus ride from New York to pick them. “It’s good, it’s sweet.”
Farm owner Chong Kim says harvest season is September and October, so the process is in full swing.
The first stop on the tour was inside a 33-degree freezer where the Korean Shingo pears can be stored for months after being picked. Then, it’s time for packaging. Each one is carefully, individually checked.
Gina Seo manages the 140-acre farm. She explained the pears are big because in Korea they’re expensive and bought only for special occasions to share, like Thanksgiving or new years.
“They’re huge. The huge one is really about the baby head size,” said Seo.
“His [Kim’s] dad had a farm in Korea and he came to the United States in 1986 to find a new place for a new market,” Seo translated for Kim.
Kim wanted to bring his father’s Korean pears to New Jersey. He became one of the first people in the state to open a Korean pear farm. After 12 years in business, the farm closed its doors after a fungus in the trees spread. But the demand remained, and Kim opened again on a new property. His current farm has been in Hamilton Township for over 20 years.
“Look how many people are over here and it’s pouring rain,” said Seo. “You see how people are crazy about our pears. Before the harvesting season, of course, we need water and rain. But right now we don’t because you have to pick and they can’t pick in the rain.”
Seo says Kim’s memories of working on his father’s farm in Korea is the same feeling that brings many people to the farm.
“Most Asian people, they come here taste the home taste here, it reminds them of home,” she said. “It’s not just a piece of fruit.”
It’s a taste that sparks a memory.