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Photo of Bill Griffin, Holly Mackey and Secretary Kuperus - Click to enlarge
Receives Honor at Annual Agricultural Convention
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond 
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – Holly Mackey, a Warren County fruit and vegetable farmer, was honored Tuesday, February 5 as New Jersey’s 2008 Outstanding Young Farmer at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention held in Cherry Hill, the first woman farmer to receive the award in the state.

“Holly Mackey has helped build a successful agritourism operation through her innovative marketing efforts and her can-do attitude,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus.  “She realized and has built upon the concept of destination shopping for consumers, which is a strategy to helping to sustain agriculture in New Jersey.”

Mackey and her husband Devlen, an 8th generation farmer, purchased Mackey’s Orchard in Belvidere in 1994, land the Mackey family had farmed for more than 100 years.

“I absolutely love what I do and to have all the hard work that goes into farming recognized and celebrated in the form of this award is humbling,” said Mackey.  “I believe it is today's young farmer's responsibility to ensure that their communities don't lose sight of the importance and value of agriculture.  This can be accomplished in part by engaging in the political process on the local, county and state levels; by being actively involved with community organizations; and by educating today's youth on all aspects of agriculture.

“Personally, I wouldn't be where I am today without my family, my friends and the community in which I live.  Their support, encouragement and loyalty are blessings and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”

Armed with a marketing degree from Rider University, Holly Mackey recognized that the 96-acre fruit and vegetable farm that included a small roadside stand needed to grow to support the family.  She and her husband expanded the size of the farm market, added an ice cream stand and incorporated the use of the assorted fruits grown on the farm as value-added products. 

Mackey’s Orchard includes a large pick-your-own business with nearly 100 varieties of apple trees, including a playground for visiting children.  Mackey added educational programs to their agritourism operation, showing visitors how apples are harvested, washed and graded, how apple cider is made, and how the apples are peeled and sliced then made into pies, cakes, dumplings and doughnuts in their on-site bakery.

The Mackeys also understand the importance of conservation and when they added a greenhouse operation, they practiced reduced water and fertilizer consumption. They have implemented various United States Department of Agriculture-recommended soil and water conservation practices, including the installation of grass buffers to prevent runoff, utilization of trickle irrigation and a water management plan.

Holly Mackey is active in her industry and 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; served on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Skylands Tourism Council; and is a member of the New Jersey Farmer’s Direct Marketing Association.

Mackey was selected as one of the 10 National Outstanding Young Farmer finalists and traveled to Madison, Wisconsin February 2 to compete for one of the four national awards at the 52nd National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress.

“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.