Parking passes are required on Saturdays. The Orientation Center and Cafe are open Thursdays – Saturdays. The property is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.

Duke Farms

Delicious, local & thoughtfully-crafted food

Café at Duke Farms

Our kitchen isn't just about the food. It's about farming, food systems, people and sustainability. 

Healthy food & food systems

Food at Duke Farms

We are passionate and committed to providing a unique food experience that brings high-quality, locally produced dishes to visitors. These lovingly crafted epicurean delights are created through the support of a culture of shared environmental values, all to strengthen the local food system and reduce our ecological footprints.

Essentially, we know that food systems – the growing, distribution, processing, marketing, access, waste and policy, involves people who may have never heard about the term “food system” but are participants in the system. We believe that the more visitors know about food systems and the positive or negative impacts they can have on the environment, the more informed choices visitors can have about what to support with their dinner, their wallets and their advocacy.

Please note that our cafe is not a bring-your-own food space and outside food is not allowed for health and safety reasons.

Picture of vegetables at a market

Good food starts with good agricultural practices

Our ever-expanding cattle operation is part of our commitment to stewardship and sustainability. Not only do our cattle provide quality beef, but they make a great stewardship team! Through intentional rotational grazing, the Duke Farms herd grazes through our thriving farm fields while preserving habitat for resident rare grassland birds, who are often overlooked as members of the farm ecosystem. This grazing method balances pasture health, animal health and habitat health.

It’s not just cattle as environmental stewards though. Our farmers raise a flock of chickens in a rotational mobile coop that allows them access to fresh pasture throughout the growing season. These hens provide our café with nutritious, quality eggs while fertilizing the soil. A win-win-win for people, animals and soil health.

Even the vegetables that are grown in the fields, under hoops, in the demonstration garden, or in the permaculture garden, are all seasonally produced using management practices that focus on soil and ecological health.

Each product the farm team provides the café – beef, chicken, eggs, produce, are all incorporated into an artist’s palette of ingredients, of which Chef Lauren skillfully creates amazing seasonal dishes.

Picture of four cows staring at the camera in a grassy field.

Caring for animals, crops & ecosystems

Our farmers

Our farm staff manages the herd of docile and content cattle, healthy hens, while growing healthy vegetables of all kinds. The farm team includes Lauren Salvatore, Grazing Program Manager, Sam Solimani, Isabel Siana and Von Scully, Agroecology Assistant.

Picture of the Stewardship and Agroecology staff.

"It’s a beautiful day to get better—and eat your veggies!”

Chef Lauren Owens has over 20 years of experience in professional kitchens. Born and raised in the Garden State, her love of local food began in her parents’ own garden and has flourished throughout her career. Using local, in-season ingredients, Lauren plans her menus to showcase the natural flavor and integrity of each ingredient. When she isn’t working at the Farm Barn Café, Chef Lauren is busy running her own personal chef business which is built to bring happiness, awareness and knowledge through her food, classes and seminars.

Our seasonal café menu reflects Chef Lauren’s vision, offering a variety of dishes that are sure to appeal to everyone’s palate. Our café is committed to locally sourced, seasonal food with many of the ingredients grown or raised right here at Duke Farms!

Picture of Chef Lauren in a kitchen.

Staff who feed us - from farm to fork & plate

Our Visitor Services staff is passionate about Duke Farms and believe that every interaction is an opportunity for a high-quality, transformative experience. Together, they lead a team of dedicated people who prepare and plate Chef Lauren’s creations. Stop by and say hello to our present and future environmental advocates- many of the café staff are students in environmental studies programs at various area colleges.

Picture of Cafe and Visitor Services staff.

Get into the Zone 7 zone!

Our farm produces vegetables, meats and eggs that are used in the café. In some instances, our supply can’t fill the demand, or Chef Lauren creates a dish that includes other seasonal crops. In those instances, Duke Farms orders supplemental produce from Zone 7 in Hopewell, NJ. Zone 7 is an organization that passionately connects farmers with chefs who have a shared vision for healthy local food systems. Zone 7 works with an impressive 120 sustainable farms in NJ, NY and PA.

Picture of 4 quarts of tomatoes, each a different size and color.

Feeding our community

At Duke Farms, we love food. We love growing it, making it, talking about it, educating on it, eating it and sharing it with the community. One way we do that is through the café, but another way is by donating high-quality, sustainably raised beef and eggs and sustainably produced vegetables and fruits to area food banks. We carry that theme of connection throughout our operations and even work with our community garden to facilitate donations from our almost 500-plot garden. Each year we expand this program to more recipient organizations and grow the total amount donated. Our latest donation total for 2020 includes: 1,168 dozen eggs, 2,221 lbs beef and 5,070 lbs produce and 6,300 lbs of community garden produce.

If you are in a position to donate either food or monetary donations, we urge you to contact our partner organizations directly to understand their specific donation requirements.

We also know that fresh, local food produced by smaller farms and businesses can be unaffordable for those on a tight budget. This is especially true for low-income residents of New Jersey. To help make sustainably produced food more accessible, we partner with City Green’s Garden State Food Network, which helps federal food benefit recipients purchase local produce at our Farm Market on Sundays. Not only can recipients use their WIC and SNAP dollars to buy produce, but City Green doubles the values of those dollars, allowing consumers to expand their purchasing power and support local growers.

Picture of a carton of Duke Farms eggs, placed on top of other vegetables.

After the plate: back to the soil

Out of 262 million tons of waste generated each year in the US, nearly 30 percent is compostable food waste. Out of that 30 percent, only 9 percent of waste actually gets composted. Organic matter that goes to landfills breaks down more slowly and generates high amounts of methane gas, which is a large contributor to climate change. Composting on the other hand breaks down food and biodegradable products in a way that doesn’t produce methane and recycles organic matter into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer for crops.

At Duke Farms, we are committed to cradle-to-cradle sustainability, even in our café waste. In the café, you will see several waste stream containers: composting (all food waste and kitchenware using Eco-Products kitchenware), recycling and non-compostable waste.

All compostable waste is transported to our Rocket Composter and then to the community garden and permaculture garden, where the nutrient-rich soil is used to fertilize crops and plantings.

Picture of a pile of fine compost.