by Alex Dadio, Doylestown Farmers Market Manager
Doylestown Farmers Market is featuring a series of essays celebrating remarkable women who have made a positive impact in the field of agriculture. Through their hard work, dedication, and innovation, these women have transformed the industry and inspired others to follow in their footsteps.
Come read about the incredible Elizabeth Coleman White. Elizabeth was an American agricultural pioneer born on October 5, 1871, in New Lisbon, New Jersey. She is best known for her significant contributions to the development of the blueberry industry. As a young woman, White was passionate about horticulture and agriculture. She was particularly interested in the cultivation of blueberries, which were not yet a commercially viable crop.
In 1911, White began working with Dr. Frederick Coville, a botanist at the United States Department of Agriculture. Together, they began a decades-long partnership to develop a commercially successful blueberry crop. White brought her expertise in horticulture, while Coville provided his knowledge of botany. They experimented with different varieties of blueberries, eventually developing the first successful commercial crop in 1916.
White and Coville’s work revolutionized the blueberry industry, making it possible to cultivate blueberries on a large scale. White also played a crucial role in marketing the fruit, developing recipes and promoting the nutritional benefits of blueberries. She founded the New Jersey Blueberry Association in 1917, which helped to establish the blueberry as a popular fruit across the United States.
White’s contributions to the agricultural industry went beyond blueberries. She was also a pioneer in the use of disease-resistant and hybrid crops. In 1927, she purchased a cranberry bog in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where she experimented with different varieties of cranberries. Her work on disease-resistant cranberries was particularly groundbreaking, as it helped to prevent the spread of disease in crops across the country.
Elizabeth Coleman White died in 1954, leaving a lasting legacy in the agricultural industry. Her work on blueberries and cranberries revolutionized the way these fruits are cultivated and marketed, making them an important part of the American diet. Today, her impact is still felt in the countless farms and orchards across the country that rely on her innovations to grow and sell their crops.