By Michael Williams
CARNEYS POINT TWP. — The South Jersey Land and Water Trust finalized the preservation of two farms here Monday, with the presentation of a $17,000 check to reimburse the township for costs associated with the project.
The 78.2-acre Yetneck Farm is located along North Pennsville-Auburn Road, with the 59.29-acre DiGregorio Farm located adjacent. Both are now officially preserved — which means they are protected from development and will remain as farmland in future generations — and have joined 28,000 acres worth of preserved land across Salem County.
“This preservation is important because it helps to keep working farms in this area,” said Christina Nolan, executive director for the SJLWT. “Its important to other surrounding farms, and helps to create a farming area.”
Nolan explained that farmland preservation works best with concentrated areas of preserved land. Preserving these two farms paves the way for more farms to seek preservation in the Carneys Point area, she said.
In 2005, the County Agricultural Development Area was expanded into Carneys Point, enabling farms within the expanded ADA to qualify for preservation funding.
In 2008, the SJLWT received a grant from the State Agricultural Development Committee to cover 50-percent of the costs to preserve the Yetneck and the DiGregorio farms. The Federal Farms and Ranchland Protection Program granted the other 50-percent.
Carneys Point Township stepped into the project to cover soft costs — such as appraisals, survey work, and title work — with funds set aside for preservation.
On Monday, the township was presented with a check to reimburse a portion of the invested funds.
“It’s important for us to keep Carneys Point a rural community,” said Committeeman Joseph Racite, who accepted the check on behalf of the township. “We had enough funds in place to cover the soft costs of the preservation, and now a portion of those funds have been returned back to us. It will go right back toward our funds for preserving farmland.”
SJLWT also worked with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, State Agricultural Development Committee, and the Natural Resources Conservation Services to preserve the farms.
“We need to support and maintain our agricultural communities, as it is a strong component of Salem County and of Carneys Point,” said Janet Eisenhauer, project manager with Conservation Foundation. “It’s important to support farming in this locale, and the best way to do that is to support our farms.”
The owners of the newly preserved farms were excited to complete the project, and were happy to know their farms would pass from generation to generation.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted,” said Rosemary Yetneck, owner of the Yetneck farm with her husband Walter.
“It’s so important for the farm to continue on,” she said. “This is great, it’s just great.”
Sam DiGregorio agreed, and said that he’d like to see farmland continue to remain available for the future of the township
“I’d like to see farmland continue to be here for future generations, and it’s a little part of our county’s history,” he said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Assembly members John Burzichelli and Celeste Riley also praised the farms’ preservation in statement released Monday.
“This program has been vital in helping us maintain our reputation as the Garden State,” said assemblywoman Riley, who attended Monday’s presentation. “It’s great to see so many entities working together to boost the farming industry to benefit both the farming industry and local residents.”