(PEMBERTON TWSP.) – Agriculture Secretary
Charles M. Kuperus today announced the preservation
of the Joseph J. White farm – a fifth-generation
cranberry operation that played a key role in the history
of both cranberry and blueberry production, and is
the second largest cranberry producer in the state.
“The preservation of this farm helps protect the rich and diverse agricultural
heritage of the Pinelands and ensures agriculture will continue to maintain a
strong and vital presence here in the future,” said Kuperus. “We
are pleased to add this farm – along with 25 others recently preserved
as a result of stepped-up efforts in this region – to the state’s
growing roster of permanently preserved farmland.”
“Cranberry farming is one of the traditional agricultural pursuits within
the Pinelands, and the White farm has strong cultural and historical ties to
the local cranberry industry,” said John C. Stokes, Executive Director
of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission. “Much of this property is in its
natural state and, as preserved farmland, will remain that way. This is an important
success in the long-term protection of the Pine Barrens environment.”
Since February 2003, 26 farms covering 2,735 acres have been permanently
preserved in the Pinelands, with an additional 52 farms covering 8,274
acres approved for preservation. In the prior 20 years, only one farm
covering 190 acres had been permanently preserved.
The State Agriculture Development Committee purchased the development
rights to the Joseph J. White farm on Monday. Of the 594 acres preserved,
538 acres are in Pemberton Township, Burlington County, and 56 acres
are in Manchester Township, Ocean County.
Joseph Darlington, primary owner and manager of the farm, said the proceeds
from preservation will be reinvested in the operation to make improvements
and launch agri-tourism activities, including tours and a retail store
that will sell a variety of cranberry products. The farm produces 70,000
barrels – or 7 million pounds – of cranberries annually.
The Joseph J. White farm dates back to 1857. It was among the first successful
cranberry operations in the Pinelands, helping to change the local economy’s
focus on bog iron to the great potential of cranberry cultivation. The
farm pioneered the use of berry sorting devices, innovative packing processes
and dry-harvesting cranberry pickers that pre-dated the introduction
of wet harvesting.
Elizabeth White, eldest daughter of farm founder Joseph J. White, is
credited with helping to produce the first cultivated blueberry crop
in 1916, giving birth to a new agricultural industry that continues to
be an important part of the agriculture and economy of the Pinelands.
Today, New Jersey ranks second nationally in blueberry production and
third in cranberry production. That production is concentrated in the
Pinelands. In 2002, the state’s cranberry crop was valued at $11
million and the blueberry crop at $47 million.
In 1968, the Joseph J. White farm sold nearly 3,000 acres – including
the historic Village of Whitesbog – to the state Green Acres program
for preservation. That land is now part of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.
The State Agriculture Development Committee administers the state Farmland
Preservation Program. To date, 1,119 farms covering 124,650 acres have
been permanently preserved statewide.