Hopewell’s John Hart sworn in as member of the State Board of Ag

Hopewell Township’s John Hart was sworn onto the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture on July 26. Hart is a life-long, active resident of Hopewell, former Mayor and Committee member, a farmer, and a business owner in the Township. At the meeting, Burlington County cranberry and blueberry farm operator Steve Lee IV also was sworn onto the State Board; 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. 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.

Sytsema and Hollinger have each served on the board since 2020. Sytsema and her husband Will Sytsema, 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-year terms. By law, at least four of its members must represent the top commodity groups in the state. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba

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