John Hauser (l.) presents Outstanding Fruit Grower Award to George Melick
George Melick and sons Peter and John
| George Melick Receives the Outstanding
Fruit Grower Award From the New Jersey State Horticulture Society
February 28, 2002
Franklin Township, Hunterdon County
At a growers meeting held at the Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm, long time fruit grower George Melick was presented the "Outstanding Fruit Grower Award" for 2002 from the New Jersey Sate Horticultural Society. The NJSHS is the oldest Horticulture Society that is still active in New Jersey. Annually they select one individual statewide to receive their most prestigious award.
John Hauser, fruit grower and NJSHS board member presented the award to Melick in front of an audience of sixty-five vegetable and fruit growers. In presenting the award to Melick he indicated "the NJSHS outstanding Fruit Grower Award is presented for your outstanding service and progressive leadership to the New Jersey fruit industry."
In accepting the award George made clear to the audience that this award would not have been possible with out the support of his two sons, Peter and John, and his family. "Peter and John are the next generation of fruit growers. I was very fortunate to have been born into a fruit growing farm family. My fruit growing roots go back eight generations continuously to colonial times."
George reminisced that he had attended the last 50 North Jersey Fruit Meetings, sponsored by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. He said "its kind of nice to be able to sit back a bit and know that the farming operation is in good hands with the next generation who have new ideas."
In interviewing Melick on his career as a fruit grower, he felt strongly that his close association with Rutgers University and long time fruit specialists, Ernie Christ, Jack Springer and more recently Win Cowgill contributed to his success. "Both Peter, John and I have been able to take advantage of new business ideas and fruit growing techniques suggested by Rutgers."
The Melicks have been very innovative in their production techniques, utilizing dwarfing rootstocks for apple production, high density planting systems, summer pruning, growth regulators and careful variety selection to fit market niches that emerge. By using the most advanced production techniques they have been able to maximize production and return on investment. This also requires significant capital investment as demonstrated with the recent addition of the wind machine at the Califon Orchard for spring frost protection and two new retail markets.
"Ideas garnered from the International Dwarf Fruit Tree Association summer tours and meetings have also been invaluable," indicated Melick.
George has always made time to serve his community. He is a long time volunteer fireman in the Oldwick Fire Company. Melick is serving his eighth term as an elected county freeholder in Hunterdon County. He served as a township committeeman before that.
The Melick Town Farm currently owns and operates 300 acres of farmland in Hunterdon County in both Oldwick and Califon. Tree fruit and vegetable crops are their major commodities.
With George Melick at the helm, sons Peter and John play an active roll in the day-to-day operations. Georges spouse Norma keeps an eye on the business details. Two new retail farm market outlets were recently constructed in Oldwick and Califon locations. Daughter Becky is more of a silent partner but assists with retail sales on weekends. Grandma Florence always provided "constructive criticism" from time to time.
Peaches have been grown by the Melicks back to the civil war. In 1940 the present home farm in Oldwick was purchased. Acreage was expanded with the purchase of the 240 acres at the Califon location in 1983. Poultry in the 1940's gave way to a greater emphasis on tree fruit production and innovative marketing. Currently, 50 acres of peaches and 40 acres of apples are grown. Two acres of sweet and tart cherries were added along with Asian pears. Pumpkins, sweet corn, cut flowers and tomatoes are also raised for retail sale.
A business that was added in 1963 has become a value added one of great importance to their operation That is apple cider production for both retail and wholesale sales. Over 80,000 gallons are pressed each year. Fruit is marketed retail very efficiently, from two roadside stands. Pick your own has become a major factor in marketing their peach and apple crops. George sees a big future in "entertainment farming" that is showcasing the farm for customers from more urban areas to visit for the day while providing pick your own opportunities. George has also expanded the operation to bring their farm products directly to consumers. They participate in two tailgate farm markets traveling weekly to Hoboken and Madison, NJ.
Submitted by Win Cowgill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Watch short video clips of George Melick interview. QuickTime Player required.
(328 K) Peach Varieties and Season
(1.3 MB) Retail Marketing of Fruit
(323 K) Technology and Change in the Fruit Industry