2006 Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Dr. Stephen A. GarrisonFor more than forty years New Jersey’s vegetable industry has benefited tremendously from the work of Dr. Stephen A. Garrison. One might say, his involvement was a natural progression. Especially, since Stephen was raised on his family’s Pittsgrove vegetable farm in Salem County. The Garrison Farm has been producing since 1761; and is still active under the direction of his brother, Donald. The family is proud to acknowledge that their farm was placed in the state’s Farmland Preservation Program.
Stephen’s interest and dedication to agriculture led him to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Plant Science from Rutgers University in 1960. He continued his educational pursuit at Rutgers and earned a Master of Science Degree in Horticulture in 1963. Stephen kept up his studies at the University of Illinois where in 1967 he received a Doctorate Degree in Horticulture and Plant Physiology.
Dr. Garrison began his career at Rutgers, Cook College in 1966, as an Assistant Professor of vegetable crops and later in 1968 became an Associate Professor. His work contributed to understanding the ripening process in tomatoes and tomato mutants. He was the first to report that chemical ethephon could stimulate tomato ripening. Dr. Garrison also developed and adapted cultural practices, including spacing, direct seeding and nutrient management for mechanical harvesting of tomatoes.
Dr. Garrison and his students did research on asparagus physiology, which focused on identifying some of the hormonal control mechanisms that determine the sex expression of asparagus plants. He also developed a new technique of establishing asparagus from seedling transplants that is used in many countries today.
In 1985 Dr. Garrison’s work moved him from Cook College to the Rutgers Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Upper Deerfield, Cumberland County. As an Extension Specialist, he became active in developing and refining cultural practices for growing vegetables on plastic mulch. Dr. Garrison has achieved success in publishing and been benevolent with sharing his acquired knowledge with growers and the agricultural community.
His innovative research involved evaluating new vegetable varieties for adaptation to New Jersey growing conditions and market requirements.
As head of the asparagus-breeding program, his team introduced an improved hybrid “Jersey Supreme” that is grown in the major asparagus producing areas of the U.S. His leadership yielded five new male hybrid green asparagus varieties from the breeding program, which will be patented in 2006, and released by the NJ Agriculture Experiment Station.
Since retiring in 2002, Dr. Garrison continues to be an active member of the Asparagus Breeding Team. He lives on the family farm with his wife Susan where they enjoy the company of their six children and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Stephen Garrison says, Progress in vegetable research and extension has been a team effort; and he’s been blessed to have a career that he enjoys while working with colleagues in an effort to maintain the viability of agriculture in the Garden State.