News Department

New members take seats on NJ State Board of Agriculture

Hart, Lee IV Fill Positions at Reorganization Meeting

NEW JERSEY – Mercer County farm and store owner John Hart and Burlington County cranberry and blueberry farm operator Steve Lee IV were sworn into their terms on the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture during the monthly meeting of the Board that took place at Norz Hill Farm in Somerset County on July 26.

The session also included an officer reorganization where Sussex County’s Holly Sytsema was elected President and Cumberland County’s Barney Hollinger was elected Vice President.

“John Hart’s experience in various agricultural sectors throughout the years will make him a valuable asset to the Board and the overall New Jersey farming community,” New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joe Atchison III said. “Steve Lee has a wealth of knowledge with a wide range of issues as he is involved of all aspects of his family’s sixth generation farm. He will provide a valuable voice for his constituents throughout the Garden State.”

Hart is the owner of John Hart Farms and Whispering Wind Stable, and Rosedale Mills Country Store. Hart’s farm in Hopewell Township offers resources and information for growers that include chickens, eggs, feed and hay livestock sales, trucking and shipping services, farm assessment and production evaluations. It also provides horse boarding and riding lessons, hands-on educational programs for classroom trips, and offers animal-assisted special needs learning at the farm. Rosedale Mills Country Store offers small animal and pet foods, supplies for horse and livestock needs, garden equipment, and general items.

Hart is currently a member of the Mercer County Board of Agriculture, and was previously the mayor of Hopewell Township. He also has served on many Hopewell Township boards and committees for the past several years. Hart’s volunteer activities have included involvement with Hunters Helping the Hungry, where his store is a drop-off location for venison that is donated to local food banks; coaching local youth sports; being a member of the Watershed Institute; and teaching at the Hopewell School District Farm Day.

Lee runs the family business with his father, which has been part of the grower-owned cooperative of Ocean Spray Cranberries since 1952. With the help of innovative machinery and unique cultural practices, the Lees have become one of the most efficient farming operations in the country. Prior to working on the farm full-time, Lee worked as a manager for 10 years with ITT Sheraton, Marriott, and Doubletree Hotels.

A graduate of Widener University, Lee is the past-president of the American Cranberry Growers Association, former member of the Washington Township Board of Education, past-president of the Burlington County Board of Agriculture, past-chair and vice-chair of the Tabernacle Township Land Development Board, Mayor and Deputy Mayor-Emeritus of the Township of Tabernacle, former chairman and vice-chairman of the National Cranberry Marketing Committee and currently serves on the state committee of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Sytsema and Hollinger have each served on the board since 2020. Sytsema and her husband Will Systema, who was New Jersey’s Outstanding Young Farmer Award winner in 2009, own and operate Windy Flats Dairy in Wantage. It is a third and fourth generation farm that has a combined 250 dairy and beef cattle. The farm is approximately 800 acres and grows corn, soybeans, oats, rye, alfalfa and grassy hay. Hollinger is the Special Projects Manager at Cape May Salt Oyster Farms in Port Norris, which is an oyster producing aquaculture company that harvests millions of oysters each year.

The State Board of Agriculture comprises eight members who serve for four years. By law, at least four of its members must represent the top commodity groups in the state.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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