The Fruits And Veg That Helped Earn New Jersey The Title 'Garden State'

In perhaps the most iconic episode of "The Sopranos," two characters get lost in the snowy woods, deep in the heart of New Jersey's Pine Barrens. Scene after scene renders the environment miserable and menacing — nature's foil to the state's surrounding suburbia.

Yet despite its television portrayal, the Pine Barrens is, in fact, one of New Jersey's points of pride and the reason for its "Garden State” alias. Popular belief correlates Philadelphia's 1876 World Fair with New Jersey's trademark nickname (via The Inquirer ). However, the state earned its alias in-house, thanks to its bountiful harvests.

According to KitchenAid, the Pine Barrens are largely to thank for New Jersey's "Garden State" title; the land consists of creeks and marshlands ripe for crops. Though, some soil across the Pine Barrens' 1.1 million acres of land is, in fact, too acidic for standard farming practices — hence the barren-inspired moniker. Once farmers developed strategies for working with the land, however, New Jersey's fruits and vegetables began to thrive. Crops grown in the Pine Barrens have retained the state's garden status, though two particular fruits stand out from the rest.

Blueberries and cranberries contributed to NJ's Garden State status

The United States leads the world in cranberry production, with the Pine Barrens particularly known for its berries. Per the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, cranberry and blueberry farming thrives in the region, as the fruits have adapted to the Barrens' unique conditions. Blueberries can grow in various forms, depending on location, but the acidic soil in the Pine Barrens is specially primed for them to flourish.

"[The Pine Barrens] has good drainage because it's sandy soil, it has a low pH, and it has acidity," Anthony DiMeo, a blueberry farmer in Hammonton, NJ, told Jersey's Best. "So, those are the three conditions that blueberry bushes really like, that's what makes this area unique for growing blueberries."

Yet while blueberries and cranberries prove that New Jersey is, in fact, a state of gardens, they're certainly not NJ's only bountiful crops. According to The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey farmers yield more than 100 fruits and vegetables. The state is a top 10 producer of blueberries and cranberries, yes, but also tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and asparagus, among other fruits and vegetables. With so much fresh produce, the Garden State is well worth a visit — and a meal. You'll want to check out local eateries and farm stands alike.