Burlington County honors farms in Springfield and Southampton for stewardship

Special to The Sun
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel (left) and Burlington County Farmland Preservation Coordinator Brian Wilson present a 2023 Farm Stewardship Award to Wes and Kaitlin Johnson in recognition of their conservation actions at Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm in Springfield.

The Burlington County Commissioners helped honor two preserved county farms for their outstanding land management and conservation efforts.

Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm in Springfield and the Rolling Meadows Farm in Southampton were selected as the recipients of the Bill and Dorothy Pettit Farm Stewardship Award. The award is given annually to one or more preserved farms whose owners demonstrate a strong commitment to agricultural production and land stewardship.

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Commissioner Allison Eckel, liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks, presented the award to two of the Locust Hall Farm owners, Wes and Kaitlin Johnson, and Rolling Meadows Farm owner Richard Pierson and his daughter Paige Pierson at a recent Burlington County Agricultural Development Board meeting.

Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm

Located on Monmouth Road and dating back to 1690, Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm is believed to be one of the oldest working farms in Burlington County. The first ever iron plow documented in the United States was brought to the farm and tested on the land. It remained on the property until 1865 when it was donated to the New York Museum.

The property was originally farmed by the Black family for generations before being purchased by Peter Tallman in 1948. Tallman and his family grew grain and hay and raised horses on the land and operated a bed and breakfast in the historic farmhouse.

The property entered the farmland preservation program in 1997, and the Johnsons acquired it in 2013, transforming it into a diversified operation with rotating field crops, livestock, and a host of agritourism activities, among them pumpkin, apples and sunflower picking, corn mazes, and other special events.

The family has successfully maintained the farm’s historic buildings, including the fieldstone and clapboard home that was originally constructed in 1693 and the stone barn and smoke house built in 1787.

Preserving the farm’s history is one aspect of the family’s stewardship. Another is their dedication to sustainable farming practices. Some of those include cover crops, increasing soil fertility and the installation of a high efficiency center pivot irrigation system.

Rolling Meadows Farm

The 140-acre Rolling Meadows Farm was previously a grain and hay farm but in addition now produces cattle.

The Piersons purchased the property in 2016 and undertook a complete renovation of the farm facilities. Among the improvements were the installation of new grain bins and a high-capacity grain drying system, improved field drainage and the creation of a grass-fed, controlled grazing system for new cattle.

The farm also implemented a minimal tillage program on pasture ground, purchased a roller crimper to implement no till practices, and installed a fuel containment system and cover crop program.

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