When asked who grows the best peaches in southern New Jersey, the Caggiano family comes to mind. It stands to reason, since they have been involved with the peach business for over 80 years, spanning four generations.
It all began in 1896, when Vincent Caggiano came to America as a 16-year old immigrant boy from Italy to work on a farm in southern New Jersey. Vincent saved his money and in 1914 started to grow peaches on land he was leasing. In 1928, Sunny Slope Farms was born when Vincent, along with his eldest son, Anthony "Tony", bought 126 acres of land in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The family peach business grew even more in 1943 when three of Vincent's sons, Dominic, Louis, and Vincent Jr., expanded into the Piedmont area of Gaffney, South Carolina. The youngest son, Alfred, stayed in New Jersey with his older brothers, Tony and John, a doctor who would spend his summer vacations working on the farm in South Carolina.
Since opening in 1928, like any other family business, Sunny Slope Farms has gone through changes, but the tradition of growing quality peaches has not. The farm business in Gaffney, once totalling 2500 acres, began downsizing when the oldest sons decided to close the operation in the mid 1990s; however, the farm in Bridgeton has since grown from 150 acres to over 1000 acres and is still going strong.
Alfred "Al", who began working at Sunny Slope after graduating high school in 1947, officially took over in 1966 after the untimely death of his brother, Tony. Today, Al operates the orchard with the assistance of his son, Alfred Jr., son-in-law, Ron, and three daughters, Lisa, Cheryl, and Debbie. Another integral part of Sunny Slope is Tony Mazzeo, who's been working on the farm for 57 years and is considered part of the family.
Since Al became owner of Sunny Slope, the quality and expectations of the family brand have grown. Respect for the Caggiano family and the quality fruit they grow has increased greatly in the community. Sunny Slope continues to honor the growing traditions of the past, such as carefully hand pruning and thinning all of the trees, even though it comes at a great cost, while also incorporating new techniques. Sunny Slope peaches are prized for being high quality and have been commercially shipped as far as Texas, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Sunny Slope peaches and nectarines are available at the farm in Bridgeton, along with multiple varieties of apples and custom blended apple cider during the fall and winter season.
Sunny Slope has always been family owned and family grown, and will continue the tradition of growing peaches "just a little bit better" for generations to come.