Recipients have been farmers who have been actively involved in statewide agricultural organizations and provided leadership in a variety of ways. Recipients have also included agribusiness people who have worked to change the industry through advanced marketing plans or business management tools for the industry. Lastly, recipients include career employees who have been extraordinary in moving the industry forward. The award is presented to the winner at the Society's Annual Gala each spring.
2018 Gold Medallion Award
As a driving force in New Jersey’s agricultural industry, Richard Nieuwenhuis has devoted his career towards advancing the interests of New Jersey growers and New Jersey’s Greenhouse/Floricultural industry. As a longtime greenhouse grower, Richard and his wife Trudy have operated a successful flower and greenhouse operation for over 38 years.
From 1980 – 2004, they owned and operated Boslands Flower Shop and Greenhouses located in Wayne, NJ. They developed it into an extremely successful operation, selling both wholesale and retail. The flower shop was designated as one of the Top 250 FTD Flower Shops in the United States and received this honor for quite a few years.
In 2004, the Nieuwenhuises sold their business and moved to White Township (Warren County), where they now operate a wholesale greenhouse. Scenic Valley Greenhouses, LLC specializes in flowering plant production, and sells their products to many independent garden centers.
In addition to the daily challenges and rigors of owning and operating a business also while raising a family, Rich has a distinguished record of service to his community and New Jersey’s agricultural industry.
In 1994, Rich was elected to serve a four-year term on the NJ State Board of Agriculture. Appointed by Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Rich served with long-time Secretary of Agriculture, Art Brown. From July 1997 to June 1998, Rich served as President of the eight-member board. Under his leadership, he helped update the Right to Farm Act of 1983 with significant revisions which were quickly passed into law. New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act remains one of agriculture’s most important tools. Qualified commercial farms that meet the Act’s eligibility criteria can receive significant protections from nuisance lawsuits and overly restrictive local regulations – vital to farming operations in this highly urbanized state.
After fulfilling his term on the NJ State Board of Agriculture, Rich continued his service as a director at the NJ Farm Bureau. There, he quickly moved up in leadership positions culminating as President of the NJ Farm Bureau from 2002 – 2012. As President, Rich oversaw an organization whose mission is to represent the agricultural producers and enterprises of New Jersey at all levels of government – local, county, state, federal and international. This representation includes the influence on regulations and laws, the creation of positive public relations, and the seeking out of initiatives, activities and ventures to help the profitability of the producer members.
During his tenure, Rich represented the northeast states on the board of the American Farm Bureau in Washington, D.C. He served on the American Farm Bureau’s Trade Advisory Committee and contributed to the World Trade Organization meeting in Switzerland in 2009, and diplomatic agricultural trade discussions in Korea and China in 2010.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Rich advocated for property owners in the Highlands, as well as for continued funding for farmland preservation. He also worked towards the passage of the Wine Shipping Bill in 2012 which allowed vineyards to ship in and out of the state. This resulted in opening national markets for New Jersey wines that were previously closed to them.
In 2008, when Governor Corzine’s administration proposed the closure of the NJ Department of Agriculture, Rich led the Farm Bureau’s activities in successfully and effectively preventing this proposal from ever happening. Some say this was the signature lobbying effort by the Farm Bureau during the last two decades.
In addition to being active on a state and national level, Rich also has given much of his time and effort to various local organizations. Among them include:
- Member Warren County Board of Agriculture
- Member, White Township Planning Board
- Past Trustee, Vice President and President,
NJ State Florists Association
- Past Trustee, Vice President and President,
NJ Plant and Flower Growers Association
- Past Trustee and Vice President, NJ Agricultural Society
- Past Advisory Board Member, First Pioneer Farm Credit
- Past School Board Member,
Netherlands Reformed Christian School
- Past Member of the Board of Directors,
Hudson/Essex/Passaic Soil Conservation Board
Rich has enjoyed deserved recognition from the farming industry, and some of his awards and accomplishments include: Recipient of the NJ State Board of Agriculture’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, FTD Golden Sales Circle Award, Sussex County Dedicated Service Award, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service Award, and the NJ State Florists’ Association and NJ Plant & Flower Growers Association’s Golden Flower Award.
Rich and his wife Trudy have raised four daughters: Debra, Bethanne, Lauren, and Cheryl. They are also the proud grandparents of eleven grandchildren.
For his lifelong advocacy on behalf of New Jersey agriculture, his effective leadership on local, state, and national levels, as well as his tireless commitment towards a strong and thriving agricultural industry, the New Jersey Agricultural Society is proud to present Richard E. Nieuwenhuis the 2018 Gold Medallion Award.
Past Gold Medallion Recipients