Why Is New Jersey Called The Garden State? Know The Real Story

Why Is New Jersey Called The Garden State

As a New Jerseyan, you may want to know, “Why is New Jersey called the Garden State?” Many people don’t know the reason behind it. Usually, when people imagine New Jersey, they just see it as part of New York City. While some may joke that New Jersey is just a stretch of highways, that’s mostly true for the northern part, when you head down south, it’s a whole different story. Some Philadelphians and New Yorkers even argue that South and North Jersey should be separate states. 

However, New Jersey is more than just a place stuck between Philadelphia and New York City. Once you leave those bustling areas, things start to get more rural. In this article, we’ll discuss why New Jersey earned its nickname and what it means for the state today.

Why Is New Jersey Called The Garden State?

New Jersey got its nickname, “The Garden State,” because of its rich farming history. This state has always been good at growing vegetables and fruits, and it’s one of the nation’s top producers of tomatoes, blueberries, and cranberries.

In 1954, New Jersey officially started putting “The Garden State” on its license plates. They did this to attract more tourists to the state because the tourism industry wasn’t doing well back then. The slogan worked well; now, it’s one of the most well-known state slogans in the United States.

What Is The Origin Of The Nickname Garden State?

Abraham Browning is known for giving New Jersey the nickname ‘The Garden State.’ He served as New Jersey’s Attorney General between 1845 and 1850. In 1876, he called it ‘a garden state’ in a speech during the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition on August 24, New Jersey Day. This information is based on a book by Alfred Heston published in 1926.

Although not using the exact words, Browning compared the state to a huge barrel full of delicious foods, wide open at both ends. He did this to protest against all of the state’s production going to its neighboring states. Yet Browning wasn’t alone in making this comparison. Benjamin Franklin is said to have made a similar comparison to an immense barrel. However, this likely happened much earlier in New Jersey state’s history.

While some evidence backs Franklin’s version, Browning’s version of the story is more commonly believed. Still, the state didn’t officially adopt the nickname until decades later.

What Is The Meaning Of The Nickname Garden State?

New Jersey earned the nickname ‘the Garden State’ for several reasons. One reason is its thriving agriculture industry. New Jersey is a major producer of spinach, cranberries, and blueberries in the US. This state is also well known for growing peaches, tomatoes, and peppers.

Another reason New Jersey earned the nickname of Garden State is the abundance of parks and gardens. It has over a hundred state parks and numerous local and county parks. In addition, there are plenty of private and public gardens in New Jersey. One example of these gardens is the world-renowned Newark Museum’s British Gardens. The nickname also honors Governor William Livingston. In the 18th century, he was nicknamed “The Gardener” for his dedication to horticulture and agriculture. He played a big part in promoting gardening and farming across the state.

When Did New Jersey Become The Garden State Officially?

In 1954, residents of New Jersey petitioned to add “the Garden State” as a slogan on the state’s license plates. Governor Robert Meyner didn’t like the idea and said no by vetoing the bill. He said the nickname was never officially recognized by the government. He also said it shouldn’t become official because many people didn’t think of New Jersey as a garden state anymore; it mainly had become an industrial state then. 

Governor Meyner was right. By then, New Jersey was quickly becoming more suburban and was only 37% farmland. It was better known for manufacturing than agriculture. In only a few years, New Jersey had become one of the most crowded states in the United States. But the state lawmakers didn’t listen to Governor Meyner. They ignored his objection and made “The Garden State” the official nickname anyway. Since then, New Jersey has been called “The Garden State.” Today, many people have found this nickname funny because, as they sit in traffic, they’re surrounded by factories, not gardens.

The Agricultural History Of New Jersey

New Jersey has a long history of agriculture that dates way back to the early periods of European settlement. The Dutch were the first farmers in New Jersey, settling in the state’s western part in the 1630s. They were soon joined by the English, settling in the state’s eastern part in the 1660s. The English and Dutch brought various crops from their home countries, such as wheat, turnips, barley, beans, oats, peas, and rye. These crops rapidly thrived in New Jersey’s soil and became crucial to the state’s economy. 

New Jersey used to be a booming agricultural state with vast farmlands. This state was well-known for its produce in the late 1700s and most of the 1800s. Thanks to advancements in farming technology and the introduction of railways, New Jersey could supply New York City and Philadelphia with many vegetables and fruits. But things took a turn when farmers didn’t realize the harm their unsustainable farming methods were causing to the soil. As a result, much of the farmland lost nutrients, causing crop yields to drop in New Jersey. 

It pushed large parts of the state into the Industrial Revolution. This shift caused many areas in northeastern New Jersey, such as Jersey City, Newark,  and Elizabeth, to move away from farming and focus more on manufacturing. Despite the setback to agricultural production in much of the state, the industry didn’t disappear. Instead, it evolved. Farmers adapted to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution by embracing new technologies. They learned to preserve their crops better through methods like canning. It helped them store and transport crops that spoil quickly.

Today, New Jersey stands as one of the top agricultural states in the United States, producing a wide range of dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, it has a booming wine industry. The state’s rich farming history has helped lead the way in food production and serves as a model for other states.

Is New Jersey Still Worthy Of Its Nickname? 

New Jersey earns its nickname “Garden State” – farming is a crucial industry in that state. Some people might recognize New Jersey for having many factories, but that’s not the whole story. New Jersey still has plenty of farmlands and home gardens, even though people might not realize it. The nickname fits better than most people think. New Jersey has more than 4,000 farms, covering almost 700,000 acres of farmland. That’s about 15% of the state’s agricultural land. Even though it’s not as much as it was when it covered two-thirds of the state, it is still a big amount.

Farmers in New Jersey grow a wide range of vegetables and fruits, along with poultry, dairy products, and livestock. This state is a top producer of eggplants, tomatoes, peaches, and cranberries in the United States. Also, their wine industry is booming, with more vineyards popping up and boosting the state’s economy. Agriculture is a big part of New Jersey’s economy. It brings more than $1 billion in revenue to the state annually. The agricultural industry provides numerous jobs on farms and in related companies.

New Jersey’s fertile soils and climate are perfect for producing crops. Farmers in the state make the most of this by growing top-quality veggies and fruits, which are sold in local markets and across the nation. You can find food products grown here in New Jersey in farmer’s markets and grocery stores nationwide.

Besides being a major driver of the economy, agriculture also plays a vital part in maintaining New Jersey’s natural resources. Farmers act as caretakers of the land, working hard to safeguard the soil and water resources. They also aid in keeping the air clean by looking after wildlife habitats and planting trees. Agriculture is crucial for New Jersey today. It provides economic benefits, helps protect the environment, and gives people fresh, nutritious food.

What Are New Jersey Renowned For?

New Jersey is famous for its beautiful roadside farm stands. When you hop off the main toll road down southern New Jersey, you’ll see these stands all along the way. If you’re headed to the state’s southern beaches, it’s almost a must-stop in one of these roadside farm stands.

What makes these stands so unique? A big part of it is the freshness of the food products. Since many vegetables and fruits are grown here in New Jersey, they’re often reaped on the same day you buy them. You won’t find food products any fresher than that, that’s for sure. Also, forget about finding any food product like this at the grocery store in your local area.

At these roadside farm stands in South Jersey, tomatoes and corn are likely the top sellers. But you’ll also come across many other vegetables and fruits like green beans, watermelon, zucchini, peaches, and more.

Final Thoughts 

So, now you have the proper answer to the question, “Why is New Jersey called the Garden State?” From its early periods as a colony to now being a center for farming and gardening, New Jersey has been a spot for cultivating all sorts of things.

Whether you like farming, gardening, or eating fresh vegetables and fruits, New Jersey truly earns its nickname as the Garden State. There are some gorgeous horse farms and stunning mountains in northern New Jersey. But it’s down in southern New Jersey, the lesser-known side of the state, where you’ll find the real treasures of the Garden State.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here