By Lauren T. Taniguchi/The News of Cumberland County
Four privately owned farms totaling 171 acres in the county were recently preserved by a partnership between Cumberland County, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cumberland County purchased the development rights on the four farms, which will continue to be privately owned. The farms are: the 70.7-acre Jones farm on Ye Greate Street in Greenwich Township, the 45-acre Newton farm on Old Mill Road in Greenwich Township, the 38-acre Garton farm on Northville Road in Upper Deerfield Township and the 17-acre Kacewich farm on Drunken Bridge and Stow Creek roads in Stow Creek Township.
Through this preservation, the owners have agreed to keep them in agriculture forever, according to a New Jersey Conservation Foundation media release distributed Wednesday.
“We’re very pleased to help Cumberland County preserve these farms, which will maintain the area’s rural, agricultural and scenic character,” said Greg Romano, assistant director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation and head of its land preservation program.
The farmland easement on the Jones farm was purchased for $274,000; the Newton farm easement for $195,850; the Garton farm easement for $195,202 and the Kacewich farm easement for $135,704, totaling $800,576 paid by Cumberland County for farmland easements on the four farms.
These costs were offset by a $358,389 contribution from New Jersey Conservation Foundation and a $100,065 SADC contribution. The county expects to be reimbursed for the balance of its contribution when more state funds become available.
“We’re glad to have that (federal) money to help preserve farms, especially in the wake of New Jersey not freeing up any bond money yet,” said Cumberland County Freeholder Tom Sheppard, referring to the $400-million bond referendum that was approved by voters in November 2009.
The farmland easements were purchased using part of New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s federal Farm and Ranch Lands Preservation Program (FRPP) grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The FRPP funds were matched by Cumberland County farmland preservation funds for the easement on the Newton, Jones and Kacewich farms and by SADC funds for the easement on the Garton farm.
“The goal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Protection Program is to protect the long-term production capacity of our state’s prime agricultural lands,” said Janice Reid, assistant state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “We are especially pleased to help preserve these four farms, which encompass some of the best soils in Cumberland County.”