Martenette Farms and owners Tony and Andrea Kennette are collectively named Somerset County Vocational & Technical School District’s 2023 Business Partner of the Year. The Kennettes were chosen for their involvement, commitment and contributions to the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) Agricultural Science program.
The Kennettes have provided learning experiences for SCVTHS students for over seven years, largely on their Hillsborough-based operation. They have been particularly helpful in facilitating hands-on learning opportunities that allow Agricultural Science students to gain experience in organic practices, sheep husbandry, mushroom cultivation and in-class incubation of chicken eggs. During school closures due to COVID-19, the Kennettes went above-and-beyond, conducting virtual farm tours that supported remote learning.
The Kennettes have also helped develop a relationship between SCVTHS and the Northern Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NJ). This resulted in a collaborative learning experience for both Agricultural Science and Culinary Arts students at SCVTHS called “Mushroom and Eggstravaganza.” The program included instruction from volunteer presenters on garlic cultivation, harvesting mushrooms and the food safety practices that are necessary during the preparation and cooking of omelets.
In addition, the Kennettes have been on the Program Advisory Committee for over five years, have served as the Research Project Advisor to a senior Agricultural Science student and provided employment to a former SCVTHS student.
“This partnership is valuable to the school and Agricultural Science program in providing students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience with animal science and to log these hours as time to earn FFA degrees and career valued skills and knowledge,” said SCVTHS Agricultural Science instructor, Erik Fargo. He estimates that the Kennettes have positively impacted more than 140 students through their relationship with SCVTHS. “Their support has been unwavering and they are actively pursuing future collaborations with us.”
“We’re first generation farmers, and so traditionally we didn’t grow up farming. You didn’t really even see that as an option or a pathway,” said Andrea Kennette. “By us coming here and offering a different path, I think it also opens people up to think, ‘maybe I can do this’.”
Tony Kennette added, “We’ve seen Erik through the years continue to do what he’s doing, and we know first-hand that he is creating such a positive ripple and impact on these kids, so for us to help bring whatever tools we have to help facilitate that is just wonderful. It’s really all about impacting the future positively.”