TRENTON, N.J. – Seven farmers and others actively involved in New Jersey agriculture received Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citations from the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture during the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention recently.
Those honored at the Joint Agricultural Convention Dinner Banquet were Dave Bond, Sam Conard, Alan Danser, Dan Farrand, Monique Purcell, David Van Vorst, each for 2022, along with 2021 winner Dr. Mel Henninger.
“Each of these individuals is highly regarded for their experience, expertise and contributions that have benefitted agriculture in the Garden State,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “Their devotion to farming in New Jersey is legendary.”
Dave Bond, of Hunterdon County, is a fourth-generation farmer who has owned and operated the Bond Family Farm since 1965. The farm was established in 1894. Dave, who says he is retired, and his son Scott, farm about 500 acres of wheat and soybeans. Dave Bond was president of D&R Equipment Inc., in Ringoes, a company which purchased and sold used tractors and new and used farm equipment from 1968 to 2009. He is also currently a salesperson for Dave’s Equipment Sales in Ringoes, which buys and sells newer model tractors, new and used farm equipment and light construction equipment. Dave has been a farm equipment appraiser since 1999.
Sam Conard, of Somerset County, retired in 2016 and was the owner and operator of S.R. Conard and Sons, a farming operation of 1,250 acres based in Hillsborough. It is a sixth-generation family farm that features hay, straw, and grain. The operation has been in business for more than 100 years. He is currently a member of the Somerset County Board of Agriculture, where he has served since 1998 and has been the vice president; has been a member of the New Jersey Farm Bureau since 1975; and has been on the Board of Directors of Belle Mead Farmers since 2002, where he is Secretary.
Alan Danser, of Middlesex County, focused much of his operation on corn and soybeans since 1987 after growing potatoes and grain up until then. President of Danser & Bloom Farm in Cranbury, Alan retired from farming in 2020. He provided leadership to the agricultural community throughout his career. This included serving on the Middlesex County Agricultural Development Board (MCADB). Danser is a consummate professional and is regarded as one of the very best and most progressive farmers in Middlesex County. He was readily available to work together with agricultural organizations and associations, including the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension Service. He provided leadership county-wide through his service on the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture and was always willing to share his knowledge and tremendous leadership skills with the entire farm community.
Dan Farrand, of Morris County, is the owner and operator of Harbe Dan Farms, which produces soybeans corn, hay, and oats on 700 permanently preserved acres. He recently served on the State Board of Agriculture, starting in 2016 representing the hay and grain industry, and was vice president of the state board in 2019-20. Dan also served as chairman of the New Jersey Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee; was a member of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Advisory Committee; is a past president of the Morris County Board of Agriculture; was a director for the New Jersey Farm Bureau for 16 years; was a delegate to the New Jersey Farm Bureau and New Jersey State Agricultural Convention each for multiple years; was a member of the New Jersey Soybean Board; was a founding member of the Garden State Ethanol Committee; was a founding member of the New Jersey Grain and Forage Producers Association; was on the Farmers Home Administration Committee; and is an Elder of the Long Valley Presbyterian Church.
Monique Purcell recently retired from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture as the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and as Director of the Agricultural and Natural Resources Division. Monique started with the NJDA in February 1996 and was promoted to Executive Assistant 3 in November 2001. She then became Director of the Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, in July 2003 and was appointed to the role of Assistant Secretary in December 2016. For the last 18 years, she directed a division which handles land use issues; administers policies and programs to conserve and develop the state’s soil, water and related natural resources on agricultural and urban lands; provides financial cost-share assistance to farmers for soil and water conservation projects that prevent or control pollution; directs the office of aquaculture; hosts agricultural and conservation education programs; and distributes data from the National Agriculture Statistics Service, which is a joint federal-state program.
David Van Vorst, of Cape May County, was honored posthumously after passing away in April of 2019. Dave, who is survived by his wife Cathleen, daughter Jen and son Garrett, was the co-founder and co-owner of Plantation Beach Plum Farm. He retired from the New Jersey State Division of Parks and Forestry with 38 years of service and for many years was the District Fire Warden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Dave was a dedicated volunteer for many local organizations, including being President of the Cape May County Board of Agriculture, President of the Cape May County Beach Plum Association, which was founded in 2005, and volunteering for the annual Cape May County 4-H Fair and Barbeque. He was also a member of Masonic Lodge No. 65 in Tuckahoe.
Dr. Mel Henninger, of Rutgers University, was recognized at the virtual convention in 2021 and received his award in-person this year. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in agronomy and returned there to earn his Masters and Ph.D. in agronomy as well. Before being a professor emeritus for the last 10 years at Rutgers, he spent 391/2 years of his career as an extension specialist in vegetable crops at Rutgers. His career included nine years as Department Chair. He was active on the national level, having been president and vice president of the Potato Association of America. He also is a former director of the New Jersey Agribusiness Association, has been a long-time member of the American Society of Agronomy, The American Society of Horticulture Science, and the New Jersey Agricultural Society, among others.
Organizations who qualify to send delegates to the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention may nominate a state farmer for the Distinguished Service Award. For more information, visit https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/guidelin.html.
–Jeff Wolfe, NJDA