CREAM RIDGE, N.J. – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to announce the partnership between the County’s Grown in Monmouth program and Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) to develop a hazelnut farmer demonstration research orchard.
The ceremony was held on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Rutgers Fruit and Ornamental Research Extension Center, 283 County Route 539, Cream Ridge.
“The County is so excited to work with Rutgers to develop the first commercial hazelnut farmer demonstration orchard, east of Oregon, that is resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the Division of Economic Development. “Our goal is to give County agricultural businesses the opportunity to learn about and grow hazelnuts in Monmouth County, which will lead to new commercial markets as there is a growing demand for hazelnuts.”
After 20 plus years of extensive research and development, Rutgers NJAES has produced four varieties of cultivars, or hazelnut tree plants, which are Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) resistant. EFB is a fungus that attacks and kills hazelnut trees. Because of EFB, commercial hazelnut orchards on the east coast have ceased to exist.
“Monmouth County and Rutgers have a unique opportunity to not only to cultivate this new crop on the east coast, but also revitalize the Rutgers Cream Ridge Research Extension Center,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Board of Agriculture and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. “In addition to County growers, the Future Farmers of America, County 4-H members and Master Gardeners will be able to utilize the orchard and facility for hands-on, learning experiences.”
For more information about the hazelnut project and the Grown in Monmouth program, go to www.growninmonmouth.com.