2005 Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Douglas ZeeHe’s a man with a strong will to get the job done and a dedicated friend to New Jersey agriculture. That man is Douglas Zee. A third-generation fruit farmer out of Gloucester County, Doug’s 600-acre family farm produces 100,000 boxes of apples, peaches and nectarines a year, making Zee Orchards one of the leading fruit producers in the Garden State. Success for Doug was built on hard work and innovative agricultural practices. Zee Orchards was one of the first to have on-farm cold storage and hydro-cooling going back as a far as the 20s. They were in the forefront of enlisting the use of bulk bins and forklifts for handling apples. Zee Orchards began using high density planting, mechanical tree topping and thinning, chemical cultivation with sod middles and many other practices before they were standards in the industry.
Doug has also made an impression on the fruit industry with his marketing ideas of packing and personal selling. You can see “j-e-r-Zee”(jerZee Fresh) fruit boxes almost everywhere. Not only is Doug Zee’s name known across this state, he also has made an impact nationally. Doug utilized his leadership abilities to lobby the legislature to establish ring sizing for peaches, which has become a U.S. standard practice, after a twenty-five year effort. His fundraising and organizational skills posed Doug as chair and host of the largest ever National Peach Council Convention in Orlando, Florida in 1980.
Doug has been a member and leader of every organization that represents the fruit industry in New Jersey: member and vice president of the State Board of Agriculture; member of the New Jersey Farm Bureau; and past president of the Gloucester County Board of Agriculture, New Jersey Peach Council and the National Peach Council to name a few. For his tireless work he’s received the National Peach Council Achievement Award, the Horticultural Society Outstanding Fruit Grower, and the NJ Peach Festival Best of Show and the Governor’s Cup.
Doug and his wife, Katherine, have five children.
Doug says he loves his work and especially enjoys the independence he has earned as a dedicated farmer.