More information: readingtonfarm.com
Written By Joe Hodge
Much of Readington Township, New Jersey remains classic northern New Jersey farmland, a quiet retreat on the Jersey shore for families who have lived there for generations. A 1947 survey for the New Jersey Agricultural Cooperative Development Corp. listed 76 farms in Readington, 4 percent of which were close to 400 acres. Today, most Readington farms average less than one-tenth of an acre.
Although many family farms have disappeared, Readington has remained a safe investment zone since the 1950s as back taxes have continued to be sent to the township. Because most Readington farms are relatively small – the township largest farmer owns a bit more than half an acre – New Jersey has lost only a small percentage of its agricultural base.
Still, one third of Readington’s farmland remains undeveloped and most of the remaining farms are slowly being felled, according to Survey of Farming in New Jersey.
Sitting directly between Sandy Hook and Sea Bright, Readington is at the forefront of a current push to preserve farmland. Across the state, farmland and forests are under threat from large developers who hope to flip waterfront homes to develop them. But a group of residents and property owners has set out to halt those efforts by forming the Readington Farming Conservancy.
On March 29, 2014, the first Delaware Riverkeeper meeting of 2015 was held at Old Readington Estate, which is scheduled to be one of the farms bought by the Readington Conservancy as part of the group’s efforts to preserve rural land and water. Delaware Riverkeeper Joseph P. Dee explains why Readington is different from the push to further industrialize the Delaware.
“There is a lot of opposition to this project from Sandy Hook,” says Dee. “That is the reason the Preservation plan for Readington came about. Many of the people on the proposed project said if there was only 9 percent owned by the entity that wanted to develop the property they would go back to the table.”
By purchasing property along the Delaware River near Crooked Rock Road, the group of local residents hope to save the 7.5 acres of wetlands they hope to preserve by building a buffer from industrial developments while giving locals a chance to continue to farm on the land.
“The project is comprised of farmsteads that are looking for a chance to stay out of redevelopment or new industrial development,” explains Nick Douek, executive director of the Readington Area Development Corporation. “We need to save the eggs before they’re ruined.”
Findington Farm Preservation Plan
Subscribe to DAILY VIDEO on YouTube.