Tree farmer brings positve change to neglected Vernon road

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

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  • Photos by Janet Redyke Tree farmer and owner Elmer Platz stands beside a black walnut tree deemed unsafe and ready for removal.

By Janet Redyke

Barrett Road is one of Vernon’s older roads in the township. A sign on the road warns that its 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.

Local resident Elmer Platz 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, a 44-year resident, 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 N.J. 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 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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