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Photo of John Melick - Click to enlarge
Applications Now Being Sought for 2012 Honoree

For Immediate Release: November 4, 2010
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced that fruit and vegetable farmer John Melick, of Oldwick, has been named 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture.

Melick, who is 39, will be presented with his award at the 2011 New Jersey Agricultural Convention on February 8 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.  In addition, Melick was named one of 25 semi-finalists for the National Outstanding Young Farmer Award.  Four of those will be selected as winners at the National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress in Louisville, Kentucky February 17-20. 

“John Melick is a 10th-generation farmer who operates a successful multi-faceted farming operation on the same land as his ancestors,” said Secretary Fisher.  “John and his family set the example for the future of the state’s agricultural industry by not only being leaders in their profession but in the community.”

Melick’s Town Farm is owned by George and Norma Melick and their children John, Peter (a former New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer), and Rebecca.  They have the largest fruit farm in Central and Northern New Jersey, with more than 10,000 apple trees and 5,000 peach trees.  The farm consists of pick-your-own, a cider mill, and a market.

Melick received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University and is a graduate of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program.  He is a leader in his community, serving as Chief of the Oldwick Fire Company.  He is a past president of the fire company, as well as the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and the New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities.

New Jersey annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young farmer, who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or faith organizations.  The Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Year 2012 Outstanding Young Farmer Award.  The submission deadline for nominations is January 15, 2011.

Nominees must be farm operators, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming and must be between the ages of 21-40, not becoming 41 prior to January 1 of the year for which they are applying.  Candidates who have a financial interest in the farm operation (a sole proprietor, partners, or a corporation) will receive higher ranking in the OYF judging process. However, nominees also may include salaried farm managers and employees who are actively involved in policy and management decisions.  Submission of a financial statement is not required for state competition.

A panel of three judges reviews each nominee’s application based on the following criteria: progress in their agricultural career (50 percent of the total score); soil and water conservation practices (25 percent of the total score); and contribution to his/her community, state and nation (25 percent of the total score).

Any individual or organization can nominate deserving young farmers’ names. Persons who have been nominated in the past or previous state winners who did not make it to the National competition can be re-nominated. However, these candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria.

Since the United States Jaycees presented the first award, six New Jersey farmers’ names have been added to the National OYF Honor Roll. They include Abbott Lee (1985), James B. Giamarese (1989), Robert Von Thun, Jr. (2001), Jeffrey VanderGroef (2005), H. William Sytsema (2009) and Richard A. Norz (2010).

The OYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955, and is administered by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. The goals of the OYF program are to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements; to bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers; and to help build an urban awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy.  The OYF program encourages a greater interest in agriculture through the appreciation of the farmers’ contributions and achievements and recognizes local citizens’ contributions and encourages better urban-rural relations. The National OYF program is sponsored by Deere & Company, supported by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA) Fraternity and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA), and administered by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

New Jersey’s Outstanding Young Farmer Program has recognized many talented individuals over the years who have gone on to be leaders in both agriculture and their communities,” said Fisher.  “Through recognizing the efforts of our young farmers, we hope to encourage them to continue to farm and contribute to the community and industry.”

For more information on the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer program, visit:

If you have any questions on the OYF program or the nomination procedure or need a nomination form, contact Karen Kritz, New Jersey OYF Program Manager at (609) 984-2506, by facsimile (609) 341-3212 or e-mail at