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Jeff Bowlby, of Hunterdon County, is the 2017 Outstanding Young Farmer Winner. He has been involved in agriculture since he started helping on a farm at age 13, when he started milking cows for his neighbor. When in high school, Jeff started working for Terraceland Farms and owner Greg Manners as part of a work study program in his high school Agriculture class.

It was there that he learned about the hay and grain industry including growing hay, hay marketing, crop production, soil conservation and fertilization. In 2009, he grew a few acres of soybeans in partnership with his brother and uncle that served as the beginning of realizing his dream of farming for himself. In 2011, he began renting 55 acres of land that were coming out of a Conservation Resource Program (CRP) and started growing corn on it. By 2014, he had expanded his rented land to 155 acres, while continuing to farm 30-plus acres of soybeans with his uncle and brother while still assisting at Terraceland Farm, helping with 800 acres there.

In September of the 2015, Manners approached Bowlby and told him he was going downsize his operation and that after 25 years, it was Bowlby’s turn. Today, Jeff manages 550 acres land, much of it rented from the Terraceland Farm, growing corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, oats and other hay and grain crops. 

Conserving soil and water is a top priority for Bowlby. Several years ago, he changed his farming practices to no-till or minimal tillage with a vertical tillage machine. The benefits have included overall improvements in soil health, increased water movement in the clay-based soils on the land he farms.

Bowlby graduated from Delaware Valley University with a degree in crop science. It was there that he met his wife Robin, who majored in Equine Science. She works at a local horse boarding facility and helps her husband with various tasks in his operation.

Jeff has been on the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture for the last 10 years, including serving as the first vice-president, and has been on the Hunterdon County 4-H and Agricultural Fair Board of Directors the last nine years.