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Photo of Noble McNaughton, Secretary Kuperus, Peter Melick and Mary Jo Herbert - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: February 16, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond 
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – Peter L. Melick, a Hunterdon County fruit and vegetable farmer, was honored Tuesday, February 13 as New Jersey’s 2007 Outstanding Young Farmer at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention held in Atlantic City.

“Peter is an innovative, hard-working farmer who, along with his family, has helped his farm succeed in the most densely populated state in the nation,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus.  “His family markets directly to consumers through farm markets and their roadside markets, selling fresh produce, connecting directly farmers to consumers in our state, a key strategy to sustaining agriculture in New Jersey.”

Melick’s family has been farming the rolling hills around Oldwick since the 1700’s and Peter is continuing the family tradition as a tenth generation farmer.  After graduating from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, Melick began farming full time in the family business and now owns the business along with his brother, John. 

In order to maintain viability and market share, they transformed their 300-acre operation from mostly wholesale marketing to direct marketing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and value-added farm products including meats, pies, ciders, flowers, and firewood.  They now have three permanent farm markets, two pick-your-own operations, three tailgate markets, their wholesale business, and agritourism activities.

In the farming business, Melick says one person can’t take all the credit for an accomplishment such as being named Outstanding Young Farmer because his wife, brother, father and mother contribute to the farm’s success.

“Practicing conservation tillage, irrigation management and contributing to the community are significant elements to the success of my family’s business and my recognition as the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer,” said Melick.  “However, just to be farming in this state is an accomplishment and anyone who’s farming now should get an award.”

Following the example set by his father, George, who has been a Hunterdon County Freeholder for 24 years and is a former Mayor and Committeeman of Oldwick Township, Peter is a past-president of the State Board of Agriculture and chairman of the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture.  He is current chief of the Oldwick Fire Company and was in the first class of the state Agricultural Leadership Development Program.

Melick was one of the 10 National Outstanding Young Farmer finalists and traveled to Phoenix, Arizona February 7 to compete for one of the four national awards at the 51st National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress.  Melick and his wife, Denise, have three sons.

“Through the Outstanding Young Farmer program, we are able to highlight the accomplishments, ambition and energy younger farmers bring to the industry,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “In this way, we hope to encourage more young people to enter the agricultural industry and help maintain New Jersey’s beautiful agricultural working landscape and quality of life.”

The Outstanding Young Farmer program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955.  The goals of the program are to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements.