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Ag society celebrates 20 years at convention

By RICHARD SKELLY
AFP Correspondent

ATLANTIC CITY (March 15, 2017) — The New Jersey Agricultural Society celebrated 20 years of serving the state and honored individuals and farms who have helped its cause at the recent New Jersey Agriculture Convention.
“We had a very successful 20th anniversary season,” said Kristina Guttadora, executive director of the New Jersey Ag Society and the Farmers Against Hunger programs. “We again recovered 1.4 million pounds of fresh produce and continued to add new farms to our donor list. To date, we have raised over $50,000 toward replacing our aging trucks, which puts us over halfway to our goal. In September, we hosted the first statewide New Jersey Gleaning Week and Farmers Against Hunger Day activities with a Gleaning Summit attended by nearly 60 people, including legislators who have gained an understanding of the importance of our program.”
In presenting awards, new Farming Against Hunger President Rob Swanekamp of Kube Pak in Millstone Township, announced the Tony Russo Farmers Marketing Award, given in honor of Anthony Russo Sr. of Burlington County, to the Hurff Family.
“John Hurff is the owner of William Schober Sons, Inc. and represents the fourth generation of the family to run this farm with his wife Pam. His children are the farm’s fifth generation. His parents, Myron and Darlene, turned the farm over in 2007 after having run the business for 30 years. Their reputation has grown via ‘word of mouth’ endorsements and they now serve customers from all over the Mid-Atlantic Region,” Swanekamp said.
The ​Phillip Alampi Industry Marketing Award, ​named after the former state secretary of agriculture who served for 26 years, went to Chef Craig Korb of the Crab’s Claw Inn in the seaside town of Lavalette.
Thanks to Corb’s efforts, “the Crab’s Claw Inn has consistently supported New Jersey’s fishermen, farmers and vintners by utilizing many New Jersey produced farm products in their menu.
Seven years ago, Chef Korb debuted the first ‘Jersey Fresh’ dinner,” Swanekamp said. “Held during the fall, this annual dinner features a several course meal, utilizing all New Jersey farm products, and seafood. Each course is paired with a New Jersey wine. This dinner has become so popular that tickets generally sell out within hours of going online.”
Another award presented in honor of Neil Robson was presented to the Hallock Family.
“Neil believed in the future of agriculture. So much so, that he preserved over 500 acres of his property to be maintained as farmland forever,” Jim Giamarese, member of the NJAS Board of Trustees, told the crowd. “In addition to dedicating himself to his family and farm, Neil was a great humanitarian who every week would donate an average of 800 pounds of produce to New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger and open his farm to gleanings.”
Each year, the New Jersey Agricultural Society is proud to honor Neil through the Neil Robson Farmers Against Hunger Award, presented to a partner who provides extraordinary support to the program.”
The Hallock’s U-Pick Farm received the Robson Award, and they were cited for opening their farmland to gleaning volunteers throughout the season. This year, Hallock’s contributed 83,500 pounds of produce, all harvested by volunteers.
The President’s Award, given annually to an individual or organization for outstanding service to the New Jersey Agricultural Society, recognized a collaborative effort among several state organizations.
“The President’s Award is being presented this year to recognize the collaborative relationship of the New Jersey Agricultural Society with the New Jersey Office of Agricultural Education, New Jersey Association of Agricultural Educators and NJ FFA Association. Together, the state Agricultural Education staff, teachers, and FFA chapter members continue to support the Ag Society in many ways,” Swanekamp said.
“We would like to thank Nancy Trivette, Erin Noble and Debra McClusky for including the Society in so many events and working with us to create avenues for collaboration between agricultural education classrooms and the industry.
“We would like to thank John Neyhart and the NJ Association of Agricultural Educators, for inspiring your classes to take on projects to benefit the Society and for positively promoting our programs. You and so many of the other agricultural teachers go above and beyond to assist us, and we thank you. Lastly, we recognize the FFA chapters and members who have supported the Society through gleanings, special projects and fundraisers.”