The spring of 2015 saw three farms added to the roster of preserved farmland in Harmony Township, Warren County: 24-acre Al-Ruby Farm, 19-acre Apgars Cider Press and 108-acre Farley Acres. Two of the farms are in the Highlands Preservation Area and all of them are adjacent to or near preserved farmland, active agricultural land or preserved open space. In a township that’s rich in agricultural heritage, these three preserved spaces further strengthen its commitment to agricultural sustainability and viability.
The three farms were preserved through a Municipal Planning Incentive Grant from the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) and cost shares from the Warren County Agriculture Development Board and the Harmony Township Open Space Trust Fund. The Township’s 2008 Farmland Preservation Plan indicated that 1,273 acres had already been preserved and set a goal of preserving an additional 1,000 acres by 2017.
According to SADC records, more than 2,000 acres of farmland in the Township have been preserved since 1997, representing nearly 10% of the farmland preserved in Warren County. Farms such as Apgars Cider Press, which grows apples for its cider press, as well as peaches, cherries, other orchard fruits and Christmas trees, are family operations handed down through the generations. Al-Ruby Farm and Farley Acres offer the more typical farm vista of hay and corn. All three contribute to the agricultural economy and preserve the rural esthetic.
Says Corey Tierney, Administrator for the Warren County Department of Land Preservation, “We’re happy to see these farms preserved and thank the State, Warren County Freeholders, and Harmony Township for their support. The Land Conservancy of New Jersey also deserves special thanks for their expert assistance with these projects. In Warren County, agriculture isn’t just pretty to look, it’s a $91 million industry and a way of life for many. Preservation is not only about protecting finite soils, but it’s also about investing in our family farms and those with whom they do business. So we look forward to working with Harmony Township and The Land Conservancy of New Jersey to make more of these prudent community investments.”