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Photo of Easter lilies - Click to enlarge
Visit to North Haledon Greenhouse Showcases the Importance of New Jersey’s Agriculture Industry

For Immediate Release: March 25, 20140
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954 

(TRENTON) – Marking National Agriculture Day, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today toured  Alexander Hay Greenhouses in North Haledon to view a variety of Easter, foliage and flowering plants, as well as tropical and dish gardens. Started by the Agriculture Council of America in 1973, National Agriculture Day aims to increase awareness about how food and fiber products are produced, help people appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products, value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy, and acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

“We recognize Agriculture Day to acknowledge the important place agriculture holds in  the daily life of our citizens and the economic prosperity it brings to the Garden State,” said Secretary Fisher. “After a cold and snowy winter, we celebrate our farms and hardworking farmers, and look forward to another great growing season.”

Photo of Secretary Fisher and Bob and Bill Eelman from Alexander Hay Greenhouses
Secretary Fisher presents Bob and Bill Eelman of Alexander Hay Greenhouses with a proclamation declaring March 25 New Jersey Agriculture Day

National Agriculture Day highlights the abundance provided by agriculture and the importance of farmers to New Jersey and the nation. Garden State farmers sell more than $1.1 billion products each year, making agriculture a vital industry to the state’s overall economy.

New Jersey’s agriculture is diverse, comprised of horticulture, fruits and vegetables, grains, livestock, equine, dairy, poultry, seafood and aquaculture. Food and agriculture are New Jersey's third largest industry. It provides jobs throughout the farm and food industry, including farmers, scientists, chefs, food service personnel, processors, shippers, fisherman and more. With 9,071 farms on 717,057 acres, New Jersey farmers are stewards of the land, contributing to health, beauty, productivity and quality of our state’s water and soil resources for the benefit of all state residents.

Alexander Hay Greenhouses began in 1908 as a flower cart in the bustling outdoor market of Paterson, NJ. The flowers were grown by Alexander Hay and his parents on their 14 acres of land in North Haledon, NJ. As time went on, the business expanded from a small selection of home grown mums, azaleas, geraniums and poinsettias to carrying a full line of tropical foliage plants, Easter bulbs, bedding plants and a variety of other new flowering plants for all holidays and seasons, and only sell wholesale.

Easter is the busiest time of year, growing 500,000 bulbs, 40,000 Easter lilies, and 350,000 tulips, earning around $1.1 million in Easter sales every year. Alexander Hay Greenhouses is a wholesale business that is still family owned and operated by Alexander’s grandsons, William and Robert Eelman, and their children.

“As an agricultural business in northern New Jersey, we provide employment, purchase growing materials, and sell finished products contributing to the New Jersey economy,” said Bob Eelman.  “As a wholesale agricultural business, we are an important part of the support network that the local retailer depends on to provide quality products to their communities.” 

The state’s horticulture industry ranks eighth in the nation for gross sales of horticulture crops with $444.8 million in revenue a year. It is comprised of nurseries, greenhouses, and sod.   The horticulture industry is the largest sector of New Jersey agriculture.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating National Agriculture Day with the NJDA at this professional greenhouse operation,” said Dominick Mondi, Executive Director of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association.  “The value of agriculture, in both process and product, cannot be understated.  Nursery and greenhouse operations provide the plants which help improve property values, provide ecological benefit, and improve the health and lives of all New Jersey Residents."