“Always a Call
to the Land”
When European settlers first arrived in the “pleasant and profitable country” that became New Jersey and then the Garden State, Leni-Lenape women were planting and harvesting primarily corn, beans, and squash, what Native Americans referred to as the “three sisters.” Five centuries later, one cannot be certain what are the three sisters in the Garden State, except that they are no longer corn, beans, and squash.
One obvious way to identify the three primary crops in the Garden State today is to determine their cash receipts, a statistic that the state Department of Agriculture computes each year. According to the department’s 2004 Annual Report, the three crops boasting the highest cash receipts in 2003 were blueberries ($46 million), tomatoes ($28 million), and bell peppers ($26 million). Incidentally, the cash receipts for field corn totaled $7 million, but that crop might come close to regaining the position it enjoyed five hundred years ago if ethanol becomes a substitute for or additive to gasoline on a grand scale in the near future, as some predict and strive for (see Chapter Seven). Still another way one might possibly calculate the top three crops is to compare New Jersey production with that of the other forty-nine states. Using that standard, the Garden State ranks second among all the states in blueberry production and third in cranberries and bell peppers; New Jersey