Elizabeth Coleman White (1871-1954)
Jersey gem: Pine Barrens native
Elizabeth White helped to develop the nation’s first cultivated blueberry. Her father was the sole executor and manager of a 600-acre cranberry farm now known as the 3,000-acre plantation of Whitesbog. White assisted researcher Frederick Coville in his studies of blueberry propagation after he moved to the farm in order to continue his research.
White was responsible for locating wild blueberry bushes with desired traits; as part of her research, White asked woodsmen about berry size, vigor, resistance to cold and disease, flavor, texture and time of ripening. Her partner Coville cross-fertilized bushes by hand in order to create new berry varieties. By 1916, the pair had created the first commercial crop of blueberries.
White also helped organize the New Jersey Blueberry Cooperative Association in 1927 and by 1986 the state’s blueberry industry ranked second in the nation. She was the first female member of the American Cranberry Association and the first woman to receive the New Jersey Department of Agriculture citation.
Thanks to this Jersey Girl Great’s careful handiwork, we now enjoy some of the most scrumptious blueberries in the country.