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That word was the basis of Netherlands Ambassador Henne Schuwer’s visit to Orange County last weekend. He presented Orange County officials with proof that the county was in fact named in honor of William IV, the Dutch Prince of Orange, a historic fact that was up in the air until recently.

In 1734, Lt. Gov. William Gooch named Orange County in honor of the marriage of Dutch Prince William of Orange and British Princess Anne. At the edge of the county a historical highway marker states that event “probably” gave Orange County its name. Determined to remove the shadow of doubt from Orange County’s history, Netherlands embassy staff began investigating historical documents for confirmation. With help from local historian Frank Walker, staff was able to locate a letter Lt. Gov. Gooch sent in 1734 confirming the county’s name. The letter was misplaced among Library of Congress archives and required the focused search of hundreds of documents, Schuwer explained during a welcoming ceremony at Battlefield Farms, a large greenhouse operation founded by Dutch immigrant Jerry van Hoven.

“I am very satisfied we can confirm with certainty that Orange County is named after our Dutch prince,” he said on a platform surrounded by tulips and other perennials grown at Battlefield Farms. “I’m very happy to reconnect historical ties with this beautiful region in Virginia.”

With permission from the Library of Congress, Schuwer presented county officials with a replica of the letter printed on sheepskin as the original was. He said the framed replica is a gift of friendship and gratitude for the support the U.S had shown his country. The letter authenticates Orange County was named in honor of the Order of the House of Orange, the royal family of the Netherlands, rather than after the fruit like other “Orange” counties, he noted.

“It is entirely appropriate that our community’s long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of the Netherlands be celebrated by your visit,” Crozier said. “Your itinerary while in Orange County will be quite busy, but we are confident that over the next two days you’ll be impressed with Orange County, its people and most importantly, the rich and enduring legacy of our Dutch heritage.”

The ambassador, who was joined with other representatives from the embassy, as well as local officials, received a tour of the greenhouse before visiting Montpelier for a roundtable discussion with the many Dutch-American entrepreneurs in the region, such as Battlefield Farms, American Color and Moerings, companies deeply rooted in Orange County and connected to the Netherlands.

Like many Dutch immigrants, van Hoven has been successful in the United States as a business founder and CEO, Schuwer said, noting the Dutch are hardworking and innovative. During his welcoming remarks, van Hoven said he immigrated to the U.S. in 1971 to pursue the American dream. He founded Battlefield Farms in 1990 and grew a six-acre operation to what is now a nearly 90-acre operation that employs more than 200 people and is one of the nation’s leading greenhouse growers. His son, Ed van Hoven, is president of American Color Inc., another successful large-scale greenhouse operation in Orange County.

Ambassador Schuwer said after the U.S. the Netherlands is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world, which is a substancial feat for a country the size of Maryland. The Netherlands is the largest exporter of flowers in the world and is also known for its dairy products and technology. He said the country’s innovative and efficient approaches to business are what have allowed them to be so successful, especially in agriculture.

“We are proud of the fact that we’re a very efficient agricultural country,” he said. “We have limited land mass but we use it to the absolute maximum. We’ve basically grown it into a science. With Orange County being the largest agricultural county in Virginia, we think there must be possibilities to collaborate.”

During roundtable discussions, Crozier asked Dutch representatives for resources that could help the county with its approach to water usage. As the county continues to develop the eastern end of the county, which is slated to be the economic center of the county but faces challenges when it comes to fresh water availability, Crozier said “we really need to look at your technology to help us develop that area and develop it in a sensible manner.”

Crozier said he felt the day’s discussions were beneficial to the county, business leaders and Dutch representatives, who expressed interest in promoting the region to start-ups in the Netherlands as well as increasing investment opportunities within the area.

“There also appears to a willingness from the ambassador to explore other areas of compatibility as they become evident,” the supervisor said. “It allows us to further our economic and tourism initiatives, as well as hopefully be able to do some exports from the county to the Netherlands.”