NJ Farmers Honored at State Ag Convention

2/16/2013 7:00 AM

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Roger Kumpel, a hay, long straw, grain and vegetable farmer in Southampton Township, was honored Feb. 6 with a Distinguished Service Citation at the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City.

Several other awards were also presented that day.

“Roger is a third-generation farmer who has spent his life advocating for the New Jersey agricultural community,” said Douglas H. Fisher, the state’s secretary of agriculture .

Kumpel, his wife, Ruth, and their family own 110 acres and rent 150-plus acres. Their farm is in the farmland preservation program, and they’ve taken on conservation projects.

The installation of a pivot irrigation system is under way. They are in the process of upgrading with new technology for food safety. And recently, they equipped one of their large tractors with GPS, auto guidance and auto steering.

“Everything we’ve done, we’ve done for all of agriculture,” Kumpel said. “We live and believe in what we do. We’ve worked with these fine people across the state and to be singled out is breathtaking. My family is highly honored.”

Kumpel was a member of the State Board of Agriculture, serving as president from 2009 to 2010; was on the Burlington County Board of Agriculture for eight years, serving as secretary for one year; and was on the Rutgers University board of managers for six years.

In other presentations:

VonThun Farms of Monmouth Junction was honored with the Neil Robson Farmers Against Hunger Award in memory of Robson, a leading Burlington County farmer who died in 2006.

Bob and Cindy VonThun have donated more than 30,000 pounds of produce to Farmers Against Hunger, a gleaning organization that collects donated Jersey Fresh produce and distributes it to emergency feeding organizations throughout the state.

Sun Valley Orchards and the Marino family were awarded the Patrick Mullen Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Award.

Sun Valley Orchards in Swedesboro was founded in the early 1970s and has grown into one of the largest fruit and vegetable growers, packers and shippers in N.J. The 1,200-acre farm is operated by Russell Marino and his sons, Russell Jr. and Joseph, and their families.

Russel Marino Sr. was also honored as New Jersey State Horticultural Society’s 2013 Outstanding Fruit Grower. He is a former president of both the State Board of Agriculture and the Gloucester County Board of Agriculture.

Beth Feehan of the N.J. Farm to School Network and organizer of the West Windsor Farmers Market was presented with the Phillip Alampi Industry Marketing Award. Alampi was a former New Jersey secretary of agriculture.

During the past 10 years, Feehan has volunteered full time in multiple capacities to increase the demand for locally grown produce in New Jersey.

Ron Fisher of Ron’s Gardens in Hammonton was presented with the Tony Russo Farmers Marketing Award by The New Jersey Agricultural Society for excellence in promoting New Jersey’s agricultural products.

Fisher is a first-generation farmer who started out growing mums and now has a full-service garden center and produce market. He is a former president of the Atlantic County Board of Agriculture.

Steve Wagner of Brock Farms in Bridgeton was honored by The New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association as Nurseryman of the Year. He has worked in the nursery industry for 32 years and is currently general manager of Brock Farms’ 600-Acre production nursery in Bridgeton.

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