The purpose and passion for conservation is shared among many. It is shared between NRCS employees and partners who help people help the land. And it is shared by the landowners with whom we work. Our passion is manifested through the benefits derived from stewardship of private lands—benefits we all enjoy, such as cleaner water and air, improved soils and abundant wildlife habitat. Learn about our stories, the stories of conservation made possible through a shared purpose, a shared passion and a shared commitment to conservation.
New Jersey farmers and other land managers play a vital role in protecting the natural resources that we all depend on. The expertise and conservation ethic they apply to their operations effect all of us. We are pleased to feature some of the farming families and groups who consistently work to keep the soils and other resources they manage healthy and vital. We thank them for allowing us to tell their stories here.
Stults Farm: Plainsboro and Cranbury Townships
Middlesex County, New Jersey
Kip Stults’ farm in Plainsboro and Cranbury has been in his family for 92 years. Kip and his wife Jill, with son Brian, daughter Amy and their families, have continued the family farming tradition that was started by Kip’s grandfather in 1915. Even though farmland and farmers were disappearing from their county, they demonstrated their commitment in 1990 by permanently preserving 93 acres of farmland through the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program, becoming the first farm in Middlesex County to be preserved. “We are stewards of this land,” he told those assembled at the ceremony celebrating this preservation, and added, “Thank you for the lasting privilege.” Since then, Stults has purchased and preserved additional farmland to bring his total to over 200 acres.
At one time a potato farm, the Stults’ operation has transitioned to crops that accommodate the diverse suburban population that now surrounds the farm. Many of their crops are offered at their farm stand or as pick-your-own products. Farm fresh products ranging from strawberries, peaches and blueberries to tomatoes, sweet corn, mums and pumpkins, as well as ethnic favorites bittermelon and Romano green beans, are available to the local community. Grain and sod are grown here as well.
Kip has long been one of New Jersey’s leading farmers in conservation and land stewardship. He has implemented many water-saving, soil erosion and water quality practices over the past decade with technical and financial assistance from NRCS through the EQIP and NJ State Cost-Share Programs. Drip and linear move irrigation systems, an underground irrigation mainline, grassed waterways, irrigation water management and integrated crop management work to make the Stults operation a conservation showcase. Kip recently applied for the Conservation Security Program in the Raritan watershed and has contracted through EQIP to improve air quality by replacing his diesel irrigation engines with EPA-certified Tier 3 engines.
Kip and Jill Stults truly are stewards of the land, and they demonstrate this personally and professionally. They have inspired a son and daughter to continue the family farm tradition in an area where suburban pressures are intense. They have participated in local agricultural organizations, such as the Middlesex County Agricultural Development Board, the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture, and the Farm Service Agency County Committee. In 1995 Kip Stults was recognized for his conservation ethic by the National Association of Conservation Districts and Goodyear when he was named Outstanding Cooperator of the Year for the Freehold Soil Conservation District.
Fulper Farms LLC, West Amwell Township
Hunterdon County, New Jersey
Conservation planning is by definition a cooperative effort of the NRCS Soil Conservationist and the farm operator. According to the NRCS field personnel who have worked with the Fulper family in West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, the term “cooperator” really applies to this farming family. The Hunterdon County Soil Conservation District shared this view when they named Rob and Fred Fulper Outstanding Agriculture Cooperator in 1996.
When developing a plan to address resource concerns at their dairy operation, Rob Fulper, his brother Fred and his dad Bob actively participate in the process. They review NRCS proposed plans, ask questions, and work with the Soil Conservationist to arrive at a conservation plan that is practical and efficient. Once the planning process is complete, they waste no time in getting the implementation underway.
The Fulpers milk 140 Holsteins and own 120 young stock and a beef herd of 50 brood cows. They also grow corn, rye, soybeans, alfalfa and a variety of other grass hays on their 1,000 acres of land to feed their herd and sell to local horse farms. They bale about 45,000 bales of hay each year.
Over the past 15 years, NRCS has provided assistance for many of the conservation practices installed on the home farm and on the acreage that the Fulpers lease. A manure storage pond was constructed as part of a manure management system. Solids and liquids are separated. Liquid nutrients are irrigated onto the fields. Solids are composted for onsite use. The practices of livestock exclusion, comprehensive nutrient management planning, and crop scouting have been in use for years and continue to be maintained at the farm.
The Fulpers implemented no-till cropping system at their farm in the ‘70’s, one of the first in New Jersey to do so. This year Rob introduced a new fall/early winter cover crop on the home farm, planting a cover crop of forage radishes. This practice will prevent erosion, provide a green manure crop for summer planting, improve overall soil health, and stabilize manure nutrients for the next crop planted in the field.
The family has a strong tradition of farming. Bob Fulper’s grandparents purchased the home farm on Rocktown-Lambertville Road in 1908. Bob and his nine sisters and one brother were born in the farmstead home. Originally a small orchard, the family converted the operation to a truck farm, selling their produce in neighboring towns. Bob started the dairy operation in the 50’s with his dad and brother. After his father retired and his brother bought a farm in Mississippi in 1963, Bob became the sole manager of the homestead farm. Today Bob is “retired” and Rob and Fred manage Fulper Farms LLC. It may be too early to project what the next generation of Fulpers will do about farming, but there is some hope the family tradition will continue. This past year Rob’s college-age daughter offered a summer camp at the farm for pre-teens who wanted to learn how to milk cows and feed calves. The Fulpers have preserved 360 acres through the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program.
As the rural landscape of Hunterdon County has transformed to a more suburban one, many of the farming families have disappeared. Where open space and working farmlands are hard to come by, the Fulpers are helping to support healthy plant and animal communities and sustain working farm land.
Active in the community, Rob Fulper was elected to serve as a Farm Service Agency Hunterdon County Committee member from January 2001 through December 2003 and again in January 2007 to the present. In addition, Rob serves on the West Amwell Township Board of Adjustment.