2008 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer
Holly MackeyFarming in the Mackey family in New Jersey dates back to the mid-1850’s. However, being a farmer was not the focus of Holly’s life until she and future husband, Devlen, an 8th generation farmer, seized the opportunity in 1994, to purchase Mackey’s Orchard in Belvidere, Warren County, from his family. Their business venture became incorporated in 1997, with Holly and her husband serving as corporate officers.
Fresh out of Rider University and equipped with a marketing degree, Holly was anxious to put her skills to work on the family’s more than one hundred year old farm. The business consisted of selling apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and fresh vegetables grown on their farm at a small roadside stand. Holly recognized that the 96-acre operation needed to further diversify its agribusiness activities if it was going to remain viable and provide the necessary support for the family. So, the Mackeys decided to shift their business into high gear by expanding the size of the farm market. Holly established a profit-making element by adding an ice cream stand and incorporated the use of the assorted fruits they grow as value-added products. This created an agritourism component for the farm and included participation with New Jersey Department of Agriculture's “Linking Students with Agriculture.” Holly adopted the concept of destination shopping: meaning, if you go to a butcher for meat then why not come to a farm market for fruits and vegetables as opposed to one-stop shopping in a grocery store.
At Mackey’s state-of-the-art retail farm market you are welcomed and attended to by what Holly proudly acknowledges as, “A great staff.” Visitors can witness a culinary transformation first-hand when they see how apples are harvested, washed and graded, how fresh apple cider is made and Observe fruit being picked, peeled and sliced, then presented as homemade pies, cakes, dumplings and donuts in their on-site bakery.
Holly’s marketing background and business acumen aided in the construction of a phenomenal greenhouse operation that practices reduced water and fertilizer consumption. Mackey's Orchard has implemented various USDA recommended soil and water conservation practices including the installation of grass buffers to prevent runoff, utilization of trickle irrigation and a water management plan. They expanded their pick-your-own operation with nearly 100 varieties of apple trees and have an on-site playground for visiting kids. Holly and Devlen -- who can fix and build anything -- have transformed a single focus production agriculture operation into a destination farm for the consumer. At Mackey’s Orchard, members of the public can get a wholesome experience in agriculture; they have an opportunity to learn about farming as a community business, and are exposed to issues facing agriculture.
Holly and her family are extremely active in the community. She is a graduate of Class Five of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program; President of the White Township Business Association; Is on the Warren County Community College Board of Trustees; Is a Past member of the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Skylands Tourism Council and is a member of the New Jersey Farmer’s Direct Marketing Association. Holly & Devlen won the Warren County Regional Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Award and were named New Jersey FSA Farm Family of the Year in 2000.
Holly and her husband Devlen are devoted parents to two children –
Hannah – 10 and Adam - 8.