Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Farms Preserved in Cranbury Township, Middlesex County

Two Cranbury Township farms have entered the Middlesex County Farmland Preservation Program, the county has announced. Sallie Toscano’s 43-acre Rejay Farm and the Lum family’s 48-acre vegetable farm have joined 31 other Cranbury locations previously preserved by the county and township. All told, 2,600 acres of farmland have been preserved in Cranbury thus far.
The county’s program, which to date has preserved 67 farms, organizes the purchase of easements on the land it plans to preserve. Typically, the state pays 60 percent of this amount and the county and municipality contribute 20 percent each. Rejay Farm’s development easement cost approximately $1.3 million, while the permanent agricultural easement on the Lum property cost $898,000. Cranbury contributed $263,000 and $180,000, respectively.
Committeeman Dan Mulligan said he sees participation in the preservation program as not only environmentally sound, but also fiscally responsible for the township.
“Middlesex County's land preservation program is extremely important to Cranbury Township as it is one of the key benefits we receive from the county taxes we pay as residents,” he said. “Overall, land preservation provides multiple benefits to the residents of Cranbury Township as we not only benefit from land that is preserved for agriculture as well as open space.”
The township has eight more locations targeted for preservation, which would add 600 more acres to its preserved land total. The county hasn’t decided if Cranbury will be selected for further preservation and other municipalities are also being considered. Farms located in Monroe and South Brunswick are expected to join to the program over the next several years.
With the addition of the most recent Cranbury farms, more than 5,000 acres of farmland have been preserved throughout the county. This figure includes preservation easements purchased through the preservation program funds as well as purchases made directly by New Jersey, Middlesex’s municipalities, non-profit organizations and donated land.
Middlesex County Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro, liaison to the Middlesex County Agricultural Development Board, said he's pleased that these two farms are joining the program.
“This is great news, and I want to thank our partners at the state and the township and especially Sallie Toscano and the Lum family for helping us preserve Middlesex County’s agricultural heritage,” Tomaro said.
Rejay’s Farm Stand, located along Plainsboro Road, offers organic eggs, naturally grown herbs, vegetables, cut flowers and fresh honey. The Lum farm allows visitors to pick their own vegetables from June to September and also operates a seasonal Asian vegetable and fruit stand from June to October. The Lum property lies on John White Road.
According to the freeholders, the Middlesex County Farmland Preservation Program will continue work to “maintain the county’s high quality of life.”
“We have saved forever more than 12,000 acres of open space and farmland and are actively pursuing more acres so that these precious lands can be enjoyed now and in the future,” said Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano.
A list of all preserved farms in New Jersey as of 2010 can be found here.

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