The New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association (NJNLA) honored Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman with the “Legislator of the Year” award on December 12 (National Poinsettia Day) at the NJNLA Annual Awards Dinner, held at The Boathouse at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. Last year, Senator Bateman was presented with the association’s “Green Industry Advocate of the Year” award.
The Senator has been a longtime advocate of the green industry, as demonstrated by his commitment to issues affecting the nursery and landscape industry: Water Conservation and Water Quality, Invasive Plants/Native Vegetation, Snowplow and De-icing Limited Liability legislation, Horticultural Therapy Week, New Jersey Agriculture Day, New Jersey Public Gardens and Arboretum Day, and more. Senator Bateman was Gardener News Person of the Year for 2014.
Senator Bateman is a ranking member of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and sponsored the 2014 constitutional amendment to establish a long-term funding source for open space, farmland and historic preservation. He has solidified that commitment by championing efforts to secure funding for Green and Blue Acres in subsequent years as well.
Other awards were part of this annual celebration and included Nurseryman of the Year, Robert Swanekamp. He is the co-owner of Kube Pak Garden Plants in Allentown, N.J., and is responsible for sales and production. The Swanekamp family has been involved in greenhouse production since 1955, when Fred and Bernie Swanekamp started Swanekamp Greenhouses in Piscataway, N.J. In 1963, the business was sold, and the families moved to Allentown to purchase Kube Pak Garden Plants.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jeannie Geremia. Geremia is The Garden Club of New Jersey Inc.’s President Elect, GCNJ’s Wildlife Habitat Chair, National Garden Clubs, Inc. Accredited Life Flower Show Judge, and Contributing Writer for Gardener News.
She initiated and led the successful campaign to have the Black Swallowtail Butterfly designated as the Official State Butterfly of New Jersey, receiving two New Jersey Assembly and Senate Resolutions for her efforts. Jeannie created the “Pollinator Center” Project, developing a series of six signs, along with Vice Chair Diana Kazazis, as a vehicle to grow our pollinator population. The campaign received the highest award offered by National Garden Clubs, Inc., the Award of Excellence in May 2017.
Geremia was Gardener News Person of the Year for 2012, and received grants of money, equipment, plants and shrubs totaling $101,100 and gave all in mini-grants to community gardens, public gardens, educational materials, programs and schools specifically focusing on promoting “Jersey Fresh” and “Jersey Grown,” buying locally produced agricultural products from our nurserymen, farmers and garden centers. Jeannie received the highest award offered to GCNJ membership, the Presidential Citation, five times by four GCNJ Presidents.
Most recently, Geremia received the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s 2017 Women in Wildlife Award for Service on November 1, 2017, and continues to be an advocate for wildlife, the environment and agriculture in New Jersey, doing it all as a volunteer.
The Hall of Fame Inductees were Richard and Heidi Hesselein. Richard and Heidi Hesselein both come from four-generation nursery families, but on opposite sides of the country. Richard grew up in San Francisco, where he worked from early childhood at his family’s wholesale nursery, H. Plath and Sons. Heidi’s family background is Princeton Nurseries, where she learned plants and production from her father, William Flemer III.
Richard and Heidi met through the nursery business in California, after she received her degree in English Lit at Middlebury College in Vermont, while he was completing his B.A. in Botany at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. They moved to New Jersey to work at Princeton Nurseries in 1977, with Richard rapidly taking charge of their large B&B and Bareroot growing area in Allentown, N.J. Heidi took some time off to raise their four children, and reentered the business in the late 1980s.
In 1998, after leaving Princeton Nurseries, Richard started Pleasant Run Nursery with the intention of growing what they really loved: new, unusual and hard-to-find woody ornamentals and perennials. One of their specialties is a vast list of Magnolias propagated by bud grafts as well as cuttings and seed.
Heidi joined Pleasant Run in 2001, and has focused primarily on sales and education. Their operation has grown to 95 greenhouses on 15 acres of production, all currently powered by solar energy and utilizing extensive bioswales, rain gardens and display beds to get their message across about the importance of sustainability in the Green Industry. They test a significant number of new introductions each year in their landscapes to be able to know from experience what plants work best in our Mid-Atlantic region.
Both Richard and Heidi are Certified Nursery and Landscape Professionals in New Jersey. Richard previously also served on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association, as well as holding the office of Treasurer, and received the N.J. Nurseryman of the Year award in 2008. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Gold Medal Plant Award Committee, and both the Hesseleins are members of the Eastern Regional International Plant Propagators’ Society. Heidi is a member of NYC’s Hortus Club, and has spoken at a number of trade shows, conferences, arboreta and garden clubs.
The Retailer of the Year is Donaldson’s Greenhouse & Nursery. The Donaldson family has been farming in Hackettstown, Warren County, N.J. 1906. As story has it, the farm began as a small operation with some livestock and crops after being traded for a two-family home in West Orange, N.J. During the first two generations, the farm grew into a 114-acre dairy, potato, hay and grain farm. In the 1980s, the farm became more diversified, with the inclusion of field crops, fruits and vegetables, as well as a greenhouse and nursery operation.
The Young Professional of the Year went to Rosalind Doremus. She grew up playing outside. If you were looking for her, there is no doubt you would find her in her family’s acre backyard. It was here that she climbed trees, built hideouts, and ran the town of “Sisterville” Population: 3, and while she pretended to drag her feet as her mom named various plants around the garden, she was actually the only one of her sisters to retain these names.
She loved camping, finding much peace within the sights and sounds of nature, often daydreaming of ways she could save the planet. She quickly fell in love with selling plants to homeowners and making friends with all the local landscapers. If there was something that she didn’t know, she was quick to look it up as she wanted to be sure her customers were getting the right plant. She was sure that every landscape needed to include the colors red, yellow, and blue, and of course, something weeping! She learned to work hard here, and she did so for many years after school and full time on the weekends.
The CNLP of the Year award went to Kathy Elliott Krygier. She has been a CNLP in good standing since the beginning of the program and an NJNLA member for 40 years. During this time, she has supported both NJNLA and the CNLP program. This past year was no different as Kathy displayed her love of the business and her eagerness to learn. She promotes a high degree of ethical standards and consistently attends NJNLA/CNLP programs with enthusiasm. Her passion and love of the business is always evident.
The Landscape Grand Award winner was Landscape Techniques, LLC. for the Marcus Residence.
And, Tom Castronovo, executive editor and publisher of the Gardener News was presented with the associations Special Recognition award.
The New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association is the oldest green industry organization in New Jersey and supports all industry businesses, nurseries, landscape professionals, and garden centers by advocating on issues of importance; collecting and distributing important information, articles and best management practices; and coordinating educational and networking events to strengthen connections within the industry. For more information about NJNLA, please visit www.njnla.org.