986 Canal Rd
Princeton, NJ 08540
In 1973, Farmer George Rude began raising a handful of quail on two acres of a farm located in the small village of Griggstown in Princeton, N.J. At that time the farm was owned by Peter Josten. By the time Farmer George purchased the land from Josten in 1992, the Griggstown Quail Farm had grown to over 75 acres of land and had come to accommodate approximately 35,000 pheasants, 70,000 quail, 150,000 chickens and, when in season, Mallard and Muscovy ducks, turkeys, and partridge. All the birds were all natural (free of growth hormones and antibiotics) and allowed to range freely with out overcrowding, a standard Farmer George keeps to this day. In its early days, the Griggstown Quail Farm distributed to a few choice restaurants in the New York City area. Today, the prime distributor is D’Artagnan Inc., located in Newark, N.J. In addition, a number of other distributors and restaurants carry poultry raised on our farm. Some distributors in New York include Cittarella Market and Ottomanelli Sons, as well as a number of New York City restaurants. New Jersey restaurants that serve Griggstown Quail Farm poultry & game include The Bernardsville Inn, The Blue Bottle Café, Eno Terra, One 53, Brothers Moon, and Anton’s at the Swan. Our farm raised poultry and game can also be purchased at local farm markets during the spring, summer, and autumn months. The farm houses a USDA processing plant which processes poultry two to three days a week. Deliveries to all distributors and restaurants are made twice weekly. The farm sits just off Bunkerhill Road in Griggstown and passers by often see cows and horses peacefully grazing in the fields of The Griggstown Quail Farm. In the spring of 2009, the farm launched an exciting new CSA (Community Supported Agricultural Program).
George Rude is wise in the ways of things Bird. By his own account, he can walk into a barn "blindfolded or drunk" and tell you what's wrong with the chickens no matter how many are running around in it. "It makes no difference. I can tell you if the water's leaking or if a feeder's off just by doing it for 35 years." It's 35 years since George bred his 12 quail and began his "hit and miss" education in animal husbandry. His love of hunting gave him the idea, and once James Beard, a friend of the former owners of the farm, got a taste of what George was raising, his business took off. He began wholesaling birds to chefs and high-dollar restaurants in Manhattan. "I never went to school for anything. It was trial and error and talking to chefs to find out what they wanted from the product." And although hunting brought him to the business, he soon got out of that end of it. "I still raise birds for shooters. We catch birds every Friday and Saturday night for the hunting clubs but the numbers aren't there, not compared to what we do for meat." Eventually, George, who was born and raised in BelleMead, bought Griggstown Farm from one of his original partners who still lives there in a house now separated from the raw land. As far as George knows, he's the only full-time game farmer in New Jersey. "There are a lot of part-time guys, not full-time men." A few shooting preserves raise birds, he says, and they may have property three or four times the size of his, but he is the only USDA farm, "and I know there's no USDA kitchen like ours anywhere in New Jersey." The USDA rating means that Griggstown is government inspected for everything that they process, "which is a plus." It's not a big deal, he says, although it is costly to meet the standard. "It would have been that way anyway," with the kind of equipment he uses and the stainless steel he installed. "If it's not the right way I don't do it."