818 Old York Road
Hightstown, NJ 08520
Phone: 609.448.0436

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Reviews we got online:

5stars
" Good Experience Owner

If you are looking for someone knowledgeable to help you with your landscaping and gardening decisions, then this is the place to go. You get very personalized service here. "

-Margaret T at Insider Pages
03/16/09

5stars
"Excellent service and knowledgable staff.
A new staff member is an expert horticulturalist and can give her expert opinion and help as needed. She is extremely knowledgable."

- Taxman, Yahoo Local Reviews
05/16/2007

About Us

Few businesses can claim so enduring a presence as The Village Nurseries, just outside of Hightstown, New Jersey. First started in 1853, Charles Black planted shade trees and evergreens on twenty acres. In 1875 Charles purchased a larger farm and offered his brother Joseph H. Black a partnership so the nursery became known as “The Village Nurseries, Charles Black & Bro. Proprietors”.
It was at this time the nursery began producing what was to be the mainstay of the business for most of the next 100 years. Small fruits and an abundance of peach trees were sold to orchardists throughout the country. The year 1888 saw the next major change where Walter C. Black bought out his ailing uncle and the proprietors became Jos. H. Black & Son. Walter added an additional farm to the nursery and production increased to 200,000 or more peach trees per year and an equal number of small fruits. Their 1906 catalog includes 22 varieties of strawberries; including “Joe” a variety developed at the nursery; raspberries, currants, gooseberries, 21 different grapes and 55 varieties of peaches. Each category of entries is accompanied by a beautiful line drawing that is characteristic of the period but has lost none of its appeal through the years. From a production perspective, only the Elberta peach looks familiar today, but the price of .20 each for a 4 to 6 foot tree certainly seems like an impossibility in any century! Also included is “The New Cherry, ‘Mercer’”, another Village Nursery introduction and touted for its freedom from rot and worms as well as unexcelled table and canning quality. The last few pages of the catalog are devoted to ornamentals, nut trees; including the doomed American Chestnut; and an enticing selection of roses.

WW I created a labor shortage and the focus of the business shifted more towards the retail end. Walter C. Black became the sole proprietor after the death of his father. Walter had three daughters. Two of their husbands attempted to follow their father-in-law in the business but found the work too difficult. Time marched on and three grandsons also tried to follow their grandfather. One attended Rutgers to study horticulture, but WWII took all three young men for the duration of the war. Upon their return, only the youngest was interested in the business, but was still attending college. Walter was discouraged. His failing health limited his activities severely and the business that had been his life was beginning to fall down around him. Finally, in 1950, his grandson Joseph Black Locke joined the business and became a full partner in 1951. The proprietors of The Village Nurseries became Black & Locke and then Joseph Black Locke in 1957 when Walter was 90 years of age. Walter continued to function in an advisory capacity until his death at 93.

Walter contributed to his community in many diverse ways and served on every board the town had to offer at one time or another. The Walter C. Black grade school is named after him for his many years of dedicated service. Unfortunately, the wars, the depression and some poor investments forced the sale of much of the land that once produced those many fruit trees. The well-acclaimed Peddie School has an equally well recognized golf course that sits on ground that was once part of the nursery. This was land originally purchased by Walter and later sold to the school, his alma mater, for the actual cost to him many years earlier. The money went to pay off debts, but if a man’s success is measured in his friends and what he has given back to the world in which he lives, Walter C. Black was an extremely successful man.

Joseph Black Locke continued to move the business in the direction of retail ornamentals, taking advantage of the emerging neighborhoods that grew around him. The current proprietor is Michael Mendenko, a long time employee who has been at the farm since his teens. Mike grew up in Hightstown and comes from a long line of local farmers. Now the nursery sits on seven acres. New houses can be seen over the tops of the trees, but the flavor of the area is still rural. The Village Nurseries continues as a cornerstone of the community. The nursery is always a landmark, an integral part of local history, and until recently even the polling place for rural voters. Mike maintains the diversity and quality of plant material that has been the trademark of the business since its inception. Creating and maintaining Landscapes and Gardens that grow and improve with time has become the core business of the Village Nurseries. Backyard gardeners and professionals alike can appreciate the knowledge and enthusiasm that is part of the routine. If you are seeking the unusual, The Village Nurseries is a great place to start.

Congratulations on over 150 years of business. May you continue to grow.