2005 Outstanding Young Farmer Award
Jeffrey VanderGroefJeffrey VanderGroef represents the future of New Jersey Agriculture, especially in the state’s dairy industry. As the 2005 Outstanding Young Farmer, Jeff has stepped forward with his mind focused on being a part of the solution to the many inherent woes that plague dairy farmers. He recently assisted with reworking the Jersey Fresh legislation for dairy, which provides farmers with a stronger say in how their product can be marketed.
Based in Sussex County, Jeffrey comes to this industry as a third generation participant, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who actually left the dairy business before Jeffrey entered it professionally in 1986. He started out with only $12,000, seven registered Holsteins, a rented small farm with 30 acres of pasture, and no cropland, which required him to purchase all of his animals’ forages. In the last ten years, Jeffrey has bonded with the owners of the farmland he presently rents and has developed a prospering farm operation that includes: 337 acres, a herd of 110 mature Holsteins, plus 100 various other age groups.
Jeff is the type of farmer who is always looking for ways to make his farm a stable and viable business. From the start, he developed and implemented a soil conversation plan. He enlisted the services of a certified crop advisor on fertilizer, planning, scouting and management. Jeff’s farm was the first in Sussex County to initiate a whole farm comprehensive nutrient management plan.
He is an active member of numerous agriculture organizations that include the Sussex County Holstein Association and New Jersey Farm Bureau.
Jeff is an active member of his church, serving as a deacon, Cadet Club head counselor and Bible study leader. He and wife Tracey are the devoted parents of five children. Jeff says his last name Van der Groef means, “Of the soil” and insists, because of his strong religious beliefs, “It was God’s plan, that farming choose him.” Jeff says there is no doubt, “Farming is in his blood.”