“The old Ritzer Farm in Vernon is being transformed into a productive and sustainable tree farm. Award-winning tree farmer Elmer Platz is now growing red and white oaks, hazelnuts, sugar maples, and hemlocks, and hopes to establish an arboretum.”
The old Ritzer Farm on Barrett Road in Vernon stood relatively dormant for several years. In June 2018, Vernon resident and tree farmer Elmer Platz acquired the property and renamed it the Wawayanda Tree Farm.
Since 1985, Platz has been the CEO of Mount Vernon Farms, whose core business is a tree and shrub nursery and woodland management. In 2013, he was named New Jersey Tree Farmer of the Year. His mission is to restore the property to an active, productive, and sustainable tree farm, with improved water quality and wildlife habitat.
Platz began diligently improving the farm in July 2019 by cleaning up non-native plant life, removing dead trees, building access roads, and accelerating the planting of new seedlings. Commuters on Barrett Road began noticing the farm’s improvements, intrigued by the standing tubex in the fields. Tubex protects developing seedlings and conserves moisture for them.
“My goal for 2020 is to plant 2,020 trees,” Platz said.
Wawayanda Tree Farm is now growing red and white oak seedlings. The red oak is the official state tree of New Jersey. A field of hazelnut seedlings in field one, on the upper plateau, is being cultivated in cooperation with a Rutgers University program. Sugar maples and hemlocks line a riparian zone, an area very close to the Double Kill, a natural body of water.
Platz’s goal is to create Vernon’s first arboretum and increase the community’s engagement trees, nature, and local wildlife through enjoyable activities and education.
Source: Advertiser-News South (www.advertisernewssouth.com/news/local-news/tree-farmer-to-plant-2020-trees-in-2020-BY1320003)