Douglas Farm

NJ Honey and Bees

About Us

email: [email protected]               phone: 908-443-1199

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The story of how our family came to America full of pioneering spirit

Douglas Farm is a multigenerational farm and apiary with a long American history. Our family first started farming in America around 1652.

During the early 1600's the Ward family were shipping merchants and land owners. Four Ward brothers decided in 1647 to build a ship to go to the new world. Jamestown had been founded in 40 years prior and was full of prospects. Several years later in 1650 they finally set sail. Sadly a large storm over took the ship. The brothers were picked up by another ship and returned home. Two years later, two brothers still desired to go to America. So, they booked passage on a ship bound for Jamestown. Sadly, this ship also sank in a large storm 100 miles off the coast of Virginia. Luckily they were picked up, and were dropped at New Amsterdam (New York City). One brother would remain in Northern New Jersey, while the other John Micheal Ward would continue on and finally arive at Jamestown in 1652.

During his time in Virginia, John's grandson (John M. Ward) became friends with George Washington. He would later serve as one of Washington's personal lieutenants in New Jersey. George Washington also had a strong relationship with the Livingston and Kean families of Union, NJ. George would have Martha stay with the Livingston/Kean family while she visited him in NJ. During these visits John M. Ward would get to hear news from Virginia. It was also the start to our working relationship with the Livingston/Kean family that still exists today.

At the end of the war John Ward returned to continue running the family farm and to the bees he had not seen in years. However, he would live to soon see his son (also named John M. Ward) sign up to defend America in the war of 1812. The family would eventually continue with their pioneering spirit out to the Indiana frontier. At the time this territory was not a state yet. The Douglas, Ward and White family lines from Virginia would marry the Rowe family line in Indiana.

The Rowe family line came from the Black Forrest region of Germany. When leaving Germany their name was Rau, then changed at the port in France to Rou, and then changed to Rowe at Ellis Island. The Rowe family came to America during the first years of Ellis Island's 32 years of opperation.

During the Civil War, three Rowe brothers signed up to the army. The family decided to follow traditional Scottish tradition of the Douglas clan. Two brothers would fight for the North, and one would fight for the south. This ensured the family to be on the winning side.  All three brothers survived the war and returned to manage the family farm. The two brothers who fought for the North won Medals of Honor, and are listed on the wall in the pentagon.

Over the years the family farm in Indiana extended to over 10,000 acres. During WWII Earl F. Rowe (senior) would sign up to the military just as the generations of our family before him. He shipped out to Pearl Harbor in 1941. He arrived by boat two days after the attack on December 7th. He started in the kitchen washing pots and worked his way up. His talent in the kitchen was quickly recognized. Eventually he was assigned to cook only for the officers, including Fleet Admriral Chester W. Nimitz. His sweet breads became well known throughout the fleet. Many of his recipes have been handed down in the family including honey buns and honey cinnamon swirl bread.

When the war ended Earl Rowe Senior decided to marry a girl he had fallen in love with through letters while in Pearl. They had never met before, but would stay together for almost 50 years. Unlike previous generations, they decided to live near her family in Northern NJ, but would still visit the farm in Indianna to help during the Summer. However, while in NJ he did not work in agriculture.

Over the next few decades other family members would leave the farm to follow their own path. The land of the farm was donated to a university for agricultural research.

Now we return to our roots. During our modern fast paced, fast food environment its ever more important to hold on to our roots and eco friendly activities. It is interesting to note that while working on the family farm the average family member lived over 100 years old. However, after the family moved to NJ away from farming and into the high stress, modern, NYC environment the life span dropped to 70 years old.

Our Community Commitment:

We are highly involved with the community offering many educational programs and environmental awarness programs. We give educational presentations at environment centers, libraries, arboretum, day camps, and schools. Douglas farm runs a hands on beekeeping education programs.

We also run the Somerset County 4H Beekeeping Club. Our 4-H Beekeeping club is a youth educational program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. This program is a great way for our youth to learn about honey bees and become beekeepers. Beyond the club’s beekeeping workmanship and education, the club will provide lifelong knowledge, increased self esteem, develop leadership abilities, open new areas and open the mind to new potentials. Members and volunteers live in towns, cities, farms, and suburbs. If you are interested in joining an organized, fun and educational program, please contact 908-526-6644. Youth 9 - 19 years of age as of Jan. 1, 2009, are eligible to join the 4-H club program. Children can start beekeeping in 4-H officially at age 9. Ages 7 and 8 may join as members of our prep group. Prep ages participate in the program to learn but not show at the fair competition.

Learn more about the 4-H: http://somerset.rce.rutgers.edu/4h/

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