Every day at 6:45 am, William S. Haines Jr. makes his daily rounds at Hog Wallow. Why? To check in on the 1,300 acres of sprawling cranberry bogs and reservoirs, which are expected to produce 300,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries this year.
Haines, 59, is a fourth-generation farmer who grew up on what is now a 14,000 acre farm that his great-grandfather started in 1890. As owner and CEO of Pine Island Cranberry Company, Haines oversees the largest cranberry operation in New Jersey and one of the top five in the country.
Much of Hainesâ€™ success comes from heeding the lessons of his elders, including those pertaining to the importance of water in any farming operation. When asked why cranberries thrive here, Hainesâ€™ answer is simple: â€œabundant, clean water and acidic soil.â€ Recalls Haines of advice from his father, â€œBefore you make any decision, ask, â€˜Where does the water come from and where do you want it to go?â€™â€
Named New Jerseyâ€™s outstanding forest steward by the state Department of Environmental Protection for the management of his woodlands on the Wading and Oswego Rivers, Haines recognizes the interdependent relationship between the farm and the forest â€“ one whose long-term health depends on regular thinning and controlled burns.
Admired by fellow cranberry farmers for his work ethic, Stephen Lee, president of Lee Brothers Inc., commented that Haines is â€œvery intense, hands-on and knowledgeable about whatever heâ€™s going to do. He learns about it and does a first class job.â€
Considered to be one of the countryâ€™s best forest stewards and a leader in forest management, Haines has long been committed to the land, including helping to expand Burlington Countyâ€™s Farmland and Open Space Preservation programs and to create a Parks Department, which has preserved over 1,000 acres and developed six parks in the county.
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Photo Credit: Pine Island Cranberry Company, Inc.