Burlington County is moving forward with the preservation of another 138 acres of farmland.
The Burlington County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to approve three new properties to enter the County’s Farmland Preservation Program. Through the program, the County makes offers to purchase the development rights for the farms and have them deed restricted to remain in agriculture. The farmers will continue to retain ownership of the land.
The approved properties are located in Mansfield, Shamong and Tabernacle and will add to the more than 63,000 acres of preserved farmland in Burlington County.
Currently, Burlington County is ranked No. 1 in New Jersey for acres of farmland preserved and No. 7 in the nation.
“The first farm preserved in New Jersey was in Burlington County and we’re proud to be a national leader in total acres preserved,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “The preservation of farms and open space helps maintain our county’s scenic landscape and keeps farming alive and viable for current and future generations. It also guards against overdevelopment, which is becoming a growing concern as developers aggressively target our county’s remaining farms and open space.”
The new farms approved to enter preservation are:
- Black Walnut Farm in Mansfield, a 60-acre grain farm off Atlantic Avenue in the center of Columbus. In addition to purchasing the development rights, the County plans to acquire a 3-acre portion of the property to serve as a connector between the County’s Kinkora Trail and Atlantic Avenue in the village of Columbus. The Kinkora Trail is currently about 2 miles long and travels between Mansfield Community Park and Island Road.
- Gatley Farm in Shamong, a 45-acre grain and vegetable farm off Indian Mills Road;
- Brace Lane Farm in Tabernacle (formerly part of Russo’s Fruit and Vegetable Farm), a 31-acre property off Brace Lane and Bozarthtown Road that is being converted into a sheep farm.
All three properties are eligible to receive state funding for up to 60% of the preservation costs. The Black Walnut Farm is also within a 5-mile military buffer zone around Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which makes it eligible for Department of Defense funding to cover the remaining 40% of the preservation price.
The buffer zone is important because it helps minimize security issues and limits development and land use conflicts near the military base.
Since 2008, the county has preserved a total of 35 farms totaling 2,348 acres in the buffer zone.
“With more than 40,000 service members and civilian employees, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is unquestionably a critical asset both for our nation’s security and for Burlington County and New Jersey’s overall economy,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and the liaison to the military base. “By partnering with the military to preserve these farms, we’re helping the Joint Base and our farming communities.”