There’s a stretch of highway in Monmouth County that’s pure heaven for fall lovers. With no shortage of farm stands and family activities, Route 34, a two-lane highway through Colts Neck and Holmdel, is serious about the season. “Halloween is pretty good along Route 34,” says Ed Brock Jr., who runs his family’s business, Brock Farms, a 30-acre spread in Colts Neck that offers pumpkin picking, a corn maze, a haunted hayride and craft activities for the whole family. “Christmas is all about one day, but Halloween is the whole month,” Brock adds. “We like to call it Fall-o-ween.”
Brock’s father, Ed Sr., started selling Jersey blueberries by the side of Route 34 as an 8-year-old. “He picked them in the woods in the back of the house,” Brock says. This was back before the advent of the Garden State Parkway. “Back then, it was nothing but road stands,” Brock says. “Dad was out there battling with all the adults.” Before long, young Ed branched out into other produce, selling onions, cantaloupes, watermelons—anything in season, dropped off by other area farmers. By the time Ed Jr. was born in 1962, supermarkets had changed the business. “There was a time when you couldn’t get strawberries all year long,” Brock says. “It was just three weeks a year, so it was a real treat. Now, you can get them year-round.” So, by 1986, the Brocks were out of the produce business and into the nursery and garden-supply trade. It was around that time that the family discovered the joy of spreading Halloween cheer. Brock, his sister Linda Arcoleo, and a dedicated staff of enthusiastic employees—some of whom dress up as goblins and ghosts—provide the joy. “Everyone has a smile on their face,” Brock says.
For Stefanie and Toby Lukins, of Toms River, a visit to Brock Farms with daughters Charlie, 3, and Kate, nearly 2, continues a family ritual. “I remember pumpkin picking with my grandmother and sisters when I was a kid,” says Stefanie. “Now I get to carry on the tradition with my girls.” The Lukins’s visit last fall included pumpkins and popcorn, along with a jaunt through the corn maze. “The girls were so excited they were big enough to run through it,” she adds. “They kept running around and screaming with delight.”
Friend Jacquie Caswell, also of Toms River, shares the same sentiment. Caswell and husband Rory brought sons Evan, 4, and Colin, 2. “Personally, I love the crisp air and fall foliage,” Caswell says, “but the spooky hayride and corn maze rank number one on my boys’ list.”
It’s easy to spend a full day at Brock Farms. Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are scattered around the field—wagons and carts make them easy to collect—and a craft area includes build-your-own scarecrows and a choice of games. Other big draws include the haunted hayride and the massive corn maze. “We start cutting it out in late August,” Brock reports.
The retail store features concrete statuary and fountains, as well as a vast indoor gardening department. A separate location in Freehold is chock-full of unique giftware and home décor. Brock’s sister, Linda, does the buying for the Freehold store. “She does a good job finding unique product,” he says.
Long out of the blueberry business, Ed Sr., now 85, still works 15 hours a day, seven days a week. “He looks better at the end of the day than I do,” Brock says. “He’s a powerhouse!”
Brock Farms’ Fall-o-ween is open the last weekend in September and all October weekends. Plenty of on-site parking is available. Call or check the website for updated hours and activities.
Brock Farms, 375 Route 34, Colts Neck, 732-462-0900; 4189 U.S. 9 North, Freehold, 732-462-2700Click here to leave a comment