Gennaro and Amalia Galletta
Gennaro Giovanni Galletta was born in San Marino, Sicily in 1882, and came to the USA in 1892 at the age of 10 years old. He worked in Platsburg, NY with his uncle and brothers until he moved to Philadelphia, PA and worked as a weaver. His wife, Amalia Marina Ciardi, was born in Naples in 1893 and also came to the USA at a young age to live in Philadelphia.
Together, Gennaro and Amalia had seven children:
Anthony - married Camilla Rossi
Marina - married Domenic DiDonato
William (Bill) - married Sarah Marcantonio
Alfred - married Rose Fumo
Arthur (Duke) - married Susan McCluskey
Ernest - married Theresa Mortellite
Esther - married Tom Fay
Circa 1908, a new industry was born when Frederick Coville began to replicate blueberry plants from the wild. Mr. Coville joined forces with J.J. White's daughter, Elizabeth White, at Whitesbog to select the best plants from the wild. They replicated varieties such as Rubel, and began breeding hybrids around 1916. The first plants were available for sale in the early 1920s and commercial shipments started around 1924. The Tru Blu Co-op was formed at this time.
The land now known as Atlantic Blueberry Company's home farm (located on Weymouth Road in Hammonton, NJ), was owned by Lester Collins under the name of Atlantic Company for the Culture of Cranberries. The first blueberries were planted on the farm to give Lester's help something to do while they were awaiting the cranberry harvest. Gennaro's son Duke was one of Lester's help at this time, and grew a keen interest in the blueberry production. Duke learned all about growing blueberries and persuaded Mr. Collins to hire his brother, Bill.
Shortly after the great depression and barely in their 20s, Duke and Bill went on to purchase five acres of land on 8th Street in Hammonton in 1935. They cleared the land by hand, with the help of John Cavallone (Italian for John the "Big Horse"), an old draft horse and planted blueberries on the 8th Street property which became the first field of Atlantic Blueberry. The brothers made $3.02 on their first sale which was made to J. Earle Roberts Fruit and Vegetable Distributor on July 14, 1938.
Receipt from the first sale
To supplement their income, the brothers began selling blueberry plants. Eventually the farm grew large enough to support two more bothers - Al and Anthony, and they were all able to quit their day jobs to farm full-time.
The brothers and their sign
Anthony, Duke, and Bill
Duke and Al
Al, Bill, and Duke
In 1946, Galletta Brothers bought property from Ben Fogletto located on what is now called Creek Road. Shortly afterwards, brother Al passed away due to a heart illness, so in his stead, Al's wife, Rose, joined the partnership as the bookkeeper.
Around this time period, the brothers began to clear land for blueberries using a surplus Army tank.
Old photo of a surplus tank found in the family effects
The original Creek Road packing shed
After the new ground had been cleared and planted, Galletta Bros. bought another piece of property across the street from Mr. Collins' Atlantic Company. They had only three years to pay for the property, or they would have to forfeit their houses. The crop froze in the first and second years, but during the third year, the farm produced enough fruit to pay the entire debt.
Shortly after, in 1948, brother Ernie joined Galletta Bros. His capital investment was a 1947 Dodge Stake Body Truck.
In 1949, the Galletta Brothers bought the Atlantic Company for the Culture of Cranberries from Lester Collins. It was then incorporated under our current name as Atlantic Blueberry Co. in 1949. The remaining cranberries from Mr. Collins' farm were converted to blueberries.
A proud father with his sons
The five brothers
Current building and location on Weymouth Road
Our youngest plants - cutting beds which hold our farm's future stock
Later, around 1969, Atlantic Blueberry started a ten year lease of the PACKO Plantation on Route 322, which was previously owned by Crescent Properties, National Industries, and Fuqua Industries respectively. Atlantic Blueberry purchased the plantation in 1979. From this point onward, with 720 acres on Weymouth Road and 600 acres on Route 322 (for a total of 1320 acres of blueberries), Atlantic Blueberry Company became known as "The Largest Highbush Blueberry Farm in the World."
The five owners - Anthony, Rose, Bill, Duke, and Ernie - each had a son who would continue ownership of the family business, Anthony, Jr., Al, Bobby, Art, and Paul respectively. Anthony and Anthony, Jr. went on to retire in 1971. The senior owners retired in 1984, passing down ownership to their sons Al, Bob, Art, and Paul. Bobby's sons Robby and Billy eventually became partners in the early 2000s. Later, Al would retire in 2004.
Our current operation consists of the Weymouth Road and Route 322 farms, with our packaging facility located on Weymouth Road. We proudly operate nine fresh packing lines, and three bulk package lines including our in-house IQF (individual quick freeze) freezing plant. With a large focus on food safety, both of our packaging facilities (fresh and bulk) undergo rigorous internal and third-party auditing. Annually, Primus Labs performs a PrimusGFS audit, a three module audit which encompasses over 350 aspects of our fresh packaging operations, harvest operations, and management systems. Additionally, our bulk processing facility receives a USDA audit. All operations are also registered and governed under FDA regulations. Please, visit our philosophy page for more information regarding food safety, ethical sourcing, sustainability, and traceability.