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Photo of John Melick, 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer - Click to enlarge

For Immediate Release: February 10, 2011
Contact: Lynne Richmond            
(609) 633-2954

(CHERRY HILL) – John Melick, a Hunterdon County fruit and vegetable farmer, was honored February 8 as the 2011 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer at the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention held in Cherry Hill.

"The Melick family has a long history of being leaders in the New Jersey agricultural industry and John is carrying on that tradition,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher, who presented Melick with the award.  “John has used his talents to enhance the family’s multi-faceted farming operation, which continues to grow and change to stay successful.”

Photo of Secretary Fisher, Stacy Melick, John Melick and Scott EllisMelick, 39, a tenth-generation farmer from Oldwick, also is in the running to become one of four National Outstanding Young Farmers.  He is among the 10 finalists who will compete for the title at the National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress in Louisville, Kentucky February 17-20. 

Secretary Fisher, Stacy Melick, John Melick and President of the State Board of Agriculture, W. Scott Ellis.

Melick received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University and is a graduate of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program.  He is a leader in his community, serving as Chief of the Oldwick Fire Company.  He also is a past president of the fire company, the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and the New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities.

His farm, Melick’s Town Farm, consists of pick-your-own, a cider mill, retail markets and agritourism activities.  They have the largest fruit farm in Central and Northern New Jersey, with more than 10,000 apple trees and 5,000 peach trees.

Melick advised others in the agricultural community that they must become active so they have a say in the future of the industry.

“Get involved with your local and state organizations so that you can help shape policy and initiatives that are beneficial to agriculture rather than just reacting to bad regulations and legislation that might be harmful or burdensome,” said Melick.

New Jersey annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young farmer, who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or faith organizations.  Nominees must be farm operators, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming and must be between the ages of 21-40, not becoming 41 prior to January 1 of the year for which they are applying.

A panel of judges reviews each nominee’s application based on the following criteria: progress in their agricultural; soil and water conservation practices; and contribution to his/her community, state and nation.

Since the United States Jaycees presented the first award, six New Jersey farmers’ names have been added to the National OYF Honor Roll. They include Abbott Lee (1985), James B. Giamarese (1989), Robert Von Thun, Jr. (2001), Jeffrey VanderGroef (2005), H. William Sytsema (2009) and Richard A. Norz (2010).

The OYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955, and is administered by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. The goals of the OYF program are to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements; to bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers; and to help build an urban awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy.  The OYF program encourages a greater interest in agriculture through the appreciation of the farmers’ contributions and achievements and recognizes local citizens’ contributions and encourages better urban-rural relations. The National OYF program is sponsored by Deere & Company, supported by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA) Fraternity and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA), and administered by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer program, visit: