Fifty years ago the VanderVrede family delivered tomatoes from the farm in Pequannock to customers in Paterson. If the state allows, the family may soon replace the tomatoes with medical marijuana.
Gro-Rite Garden Center & Florist has applied for one of six available state licenses to grow medical marijuana on its 150 acres of farmland in Pequannock and Belvidere under the name Hillview Med.
"It's very competitive," said Ken VandeVrede, the CEO of Hillview Med in Pequannock.
The farming family is among 147 statewide applicants, 49 in North Jersey, including Evergreen Cultivation in West Milford, who want to cultivate, process, and sell medical marijuana. Two licenses will be awarded in North Jersey, two in Central Jersey and two in South Jersey. There are currently six active state licences in circulation.
The family sees the connection to Paterson as a natural one, VanderVrede said, after all that is where his grandfather started off delivering his tomatoes in the early days of the business after immigrating from Holland.
The New Jersey Board of Health is expected to announce which applicants will receive a license on Nov. 1.
"It would be absolutely amazing," VanderVrede said of landing one of the coveted licenses. "For us to get in on the ground floor of the medical cannabis market in New Jersey would be amazing."