County officials approve preservation of three farms

Land affected is in Mansfield, Shamong and Tabernacle

Special to The Sun: The county is ranked No. 1 in the state for total acres of farmland preserved and No. 7 in the nation.

Burlington County is moving forward with the preservation of another 138 acres of farmland.

County commissioners voted unanimously last month to approve three new properties for the county’s Farmland Preservation Program. Through that endeavor, the county offers to purchase development rights for the farmland and have them deed restricted to remain in agriculture. Farmers continue to retain land ownership.

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The approved properties are in Mansfield, Shamong and Tabernacle and will add to the more than 63,000 acres of preserved county farmland. The count is ranked No. 1 in the state 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 Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. 

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 
  • 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 for state funding applicable to 60 percent of 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 federal Department of Defense funds to cover the remaining 40 percent. 

The county has preserved 35 farms totaling 2,348 acres in the buffer zone since 2008.

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 County Commissioner Allison Eckel, liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and the base.

“By partnering with the military to preserve these farms, we’re helping the Joint Base and our farming communities.”

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