Tree farmer brings positive change to one of Vernon's oldest roads

VERNON.Farm's new owner plans 'active and productive' enterprise

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  • The rubble of a vacant house awaits removal from the property of the new Wawayanda Tree Farm on Barrett Road in Vernon.

By Janet Redyke

Barrett Road is one of Vernon’s older roads in the township. A sign on the road warns that it’s unique construction dates back to the horse and carriage days. Typically, cars ignore the speed limit warning and tend to misjudge many of its treacherous curves. It’s littered and mistreated, but the road may be getting some positive assistance.

Elmer Platz, a local resident for 44 years, purchased the Ritzer family 42-acre farm on Barrett Road in June of 2018 and has begun the arduous clean-up of the property with the plan of establishing the Wawayanda Tree Farm. He is currently demolishing the rotted, rundown 1900s house on the site and will remove a black walnut tree that is dangerously near the road. According to Platz, the acreage will remain open with no plans for any building. Platz, a tree farmer since 1984, has a mission for the property.

“The entire property will be restored to an active and productive tree farming enterprise,” he stated.

With the purchase of the former vacant property, Platz has nothing but a positive future for it.

“It will be actively managed under the Woodland Management Plan approved by the NJ Forest Service,” explained Platz.

That means devoted timber stand improvements, as well as, wildlife and non-native plant management.

Platz is also looking into growing saw timber trees like walnut, ash, oak and cherry to be harvested for lumber. The farm will also participate in the Hazelnut Program sponsored by the Rutgers Extension. Hazelnuts will be grown for the Ferrero- Roche Company.

The tree farmer also strives to establish an arboretum on the property with the hopes of bringing in the community and visitors to see the actual workings and beauty of the tree farm.

Originally, the area was settled and worked by Dutch immigrants, the new Wawayanda Tree Farm is bordered by the Double Kill, Kill being the Dutch word for creek.


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