This week’s share includes something called an Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage. The name has nothing to do with being the first brassica to appear in the Garden State in this rain-drenched summer.
According to this heritage seed site, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage was developed by one Francis Brill of Jersey City in 1840. A Google book search turned up a mention of Mr. Brill in an 1879 issue of Vick’s Monthly Magazine. (Have I said recently that I love the Internet?) Identified as a “market gardener” in Jersey, Brill is said to have brought the seed for his cabbage from England and farmed the “Van Vorst property”. I’m not really sure whether this is the site of Jersey City’s current Van Vorst Park, as a history Web site maintained by Jersey City University says that Van Vorst was a separate city from Jersey City until 1851, with ample farmland.
The modern-day Jersey City park that hosts Upper Meadows at its weekly Wednesday farmers market is a few blocks north of Van Vorst Park, but still within the bounds of what would have been the old township of Van Vorst. So those of you who buy our produce at Hamilton Park can take pride in knowing that this week’s cabbage is about as local as it gets.
As for the rest of you, if you like the taste of Early Jersey and want to add it to your home gardens next year, the foundation that runs Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello sells it among its heritage seeds.