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New Jersey Agricultural Society holds gala, Formisano and Murray receive Gold Medallion

By
Gordon M. Hochberg, editor emeritus

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, members of New Jersey's agricultural industry recently came together to celebrate and honor some of their own.

The New Jersey Agricultural Society held its annual gala Saturday, March 19, at The Boathouse at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, NJ, where the 2020 and 2022 awards were presented. (The 2020 gala was canceled the day before it was to be held, and no awards were presented in 2021.)

John J. Formisano Sr., who received the 2020 Gold Medallion, is shown with two family members and Dave Specca, past president of the New Jersey Agricultural Society.
John J. Formisano Sr., who received the 2020 Gold
Medallion, is shown with two family members and Dave
Specca, past president of the New Jersey Agricultural
Society.

John Formisano Sr. and Al Murray each received the Gold Medallion, the society's highest honor. Bullock Farms in Cream Ridge, Vannini Farms in Vineland, Norz Hill Farm in Hillsborough Township and Little Farm in Sussex all received Century Farm Awards. The Century Farm Awards are presented to a farm that has been in the same family and operational for at least 100 years.

The Gold Medallion is presented to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to New Jersey agriculture, making significant contributions to the industry.

Formisano, a Buena, NJ, farmer, has served the industry in various capacities, including the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey, where he has been a long-time driving force behind the annual New Jersey Vegetable Growers Convention and Trade Show.  Additionally, he has served on the Rutgers Research & Development Center Advisory Board, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Board of Directors, and he remains active in his community.  He also serves on the Atlantic County Board of Agriculture and is a member of both the Landisville Produce Cooperative Auction and the Vineland Produce Auction.

Formisano Farms consists of Formisano, his brother Ralph, and his son, John Jr. They farm over 400 acres of flowers, lettuce, cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, beets, green cabbage, red cabbage, spinach, arugula, green swiss chard, red swiss chard, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe and fennel.

Al Murray, who has been supporting New Jersey agriculture for close to 40 years, received the 2022 Gold Medallion. He is shown with Tim Willmott, vice president of the New Jersey Agricultural Society.
Al Murray, who has been supporting New Jersey
agriculture for close to 40 years, received the 2022 Gold
Medallion. He is shown with Tim Willmott, vice president
of the New Jersey Agricultural Society.

Long-time industry veteran Al Murray enjoyed a 33-year career with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. During his tenure, he served under three secretaries of agriculture while rising through the ranks to become director of the Division of Markets as well as assistant secretary of agriculture. During his career, he oversaw the Jersey Fresh advertising and promotional program, as well as commodity grading, regulatory, agricultural chemistry, dairy, agricultural licensing and bonding, market news and food safety programs.

After retiring from the NJDA, Murray served as executive director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society from 2017 until Jan. 31 of this year. Since 2016 he has also served as a policy consultant for the New Jersey Farm Bureau, where he remains today.

Murray is a lifelong resident of the borough of Audubon and was a former mayor as well as a county freeholder. He is a life member and past president of the Camden County Mayors Association, and life member and past president of the North American Agricultural Marketing Officials Association. He is a 43-year member of the Audubon Fire Department. Murray currently serves on the board of directors of the Eastern Produce Council.

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