One Hundred Years, Six Generations and Still Growing...
The Ort family settled in Long Valley (previously known as German Valley) in the mid 1800s. Harvey S. Ort, son of William Ort, had a farm operation on Spring Lane in the Schooley's Mountain section of Long Valley. In 1916, the son of Harvey S. Ort, Jacob W. Ort moved off his fathers farm on Spring Lane into the valley to our current location on Bartley Road. He moved into the farmhouse and started farming on his own, operating primarily as a dairy farm and raising livestock. Jacob and his wife, Blanche had two children, Sarah and Harvey J. Ort. Harvey J. Ort Sr. was born in 1927 in the farmhouse and he entered into the farming lifestyle. He and sister, Sarah were responsible for several farm chores, milking cows and running equipment, helping in the fields.
For several years, the family's primary income was from dairy farming, raising livestock, hay, and grain. Jacob Ort peddled meat and dairy products all the way to Newark and during the days of Prohibition spirits could also be found on the farm.
The farm weathered the challenges of the Great Depression and as the children grew older, Harvey Sr. remained on the farm, where he married his wife, Edith and they started raising a family of their own. The three generations lived together and worked the land, Harvey J's children helped with farm chores, and his Grandfather, Harvey S. Ort also visited and eventually permanently moved to help operate the business.
Throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s the family continued milking cows, growing hay and grain and also began custom farming. To support their growing family, Harvey J. Ort and wife, Edith expanded the family vegetable garden and started selling produce on a wagon on the side of the road.
In the early 1970s, Harvey Sr. decided to move forward in the fresh produce industry and constructed the farm stand that you see on the farm today. A few years later, the family sold the dairy herd and shifted out of the dairy industry completely. Harvey Ort Jr. was born in 1956 and upon graduating high school he took and interest in growing produce. Shortly after, Harvey Jr. became a full time farmer, working with the help of his siblings and parents to continue growing the family business. Harvey started to vastly expand vegetable production on the farm through both retail and wholesale outlets, while he continued to farm grain and hay. His brother, John Ort also remained involved in the business became a partner, he works part time with Harvey Sr. and Jr. to meet the demands of the growing business.
In the early 1980s, we started offering Pick Your Own Pumpkins to the public. We were one of the first PYO operations in the area and it was a great success. The success of pumpkin season pulled all the family members back to the farm to help on busy weekends.
The 2000s brought about further expansion to the business as we began participating in community farmers markets, expanding our product line in the store, selling Christmas trees, expanding the greenhouses and offering school tours. Through this expansion, Harvey also had the help of his sister, Barbra Jane, managing the retail aspect of the business.
The business has continued to grow and evolve with the involvement of the next generation. Harvey Jr's daughters Sarah and Nicole are both involved with the family business, adding new additions to the business including the CSA program, offering summer programs, birthday parties and corporate events.
Presently, we are blessed to have four generations of the family including Harvey Sr, his children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren all involved in the farm. On a busy weekend in October customers can be guaranteed to see all four generations here on the farm working together to make our busiest season a success. The farm's diversification has allowed for tremendous growth over the years, but as the saying goes, it takes and army and we have been blessed to have so many family members devoted to continuing and support the business along the way. It's amazing to think that Harvey Sr. worked this land with his grandfather, his father, his children, his grandchildren, and now even his great grandchildren.