East Amwell Township is a rural haven tucked away in the southeast corner of Hunterdon County. The township has worked for many years to make East Amwell a place where farming comes first. That commitment has paid off, and the township is home to many preserved farms, including a 61 acre farm on Wertsville Road recently preserved by the township with the help of the Hunterdon Land Trust.
“We have wanted to preserve this farm for many years” said Dick Ginman, a member of the Township’s Farmland and Open Space Committee. “We are indebted to Kate Buttolph (Hunterdon Land Trust’s Director of Acquisition and Stewardship) for working with the owner to make this preservation happen.”
The recently preserved property adjoins other preserved farms and is in an area of interest for both East Amwell Township and the Hunterdon Land Trust. East Amwell Township’s Farmland Preservation Plan recognizes that “agriculture is important in East Amwell’s history and its future, providing a rural lifestyle valued by farmers and non-farmers alike, while also contributing breathtaking scenic views, promoting the local economy and utilizing a valuable natural resource”. The farm on Wertsville Road is a perfect example of the type of place that the Township’s Plan is geared to protect. It is surrounded by other large farms and across the street from East Amwell Elementary school that together create a beautiful and peaceful rural vista. It is one of four properties totaling 243 acres preserved in East Amwell over the past year.
“It is a pleasure to partner with townships like East Amwell that value the many benefits of preserving their farming legacy” said Patricia Ruby, Executive Director of the Hunterdon Land Trust. “In addition to ensuring we’ll always have access to local, healthy food, preserving farmland is a sound investment in future farmers, flood control, and wildlife habitat.”
In a recently completed Comprehensive Land Preservation Plan, the Hunterdon Land Trust also identified the area of the newly preserved farm as one of particular interest due to its agricultural soils and its proximity to the headwaters of the Neshanic River. The Neshanic is a major tributary to the South Branch of the Raritan and vital to the water quality within the Raritan basin. “I am so pleased that East Amwell and the Hunterdon Land Trust were able to partner to protect this property” said Kate Buttolph of the Hunterdon Land Trust. “This farm fit perfectly with both of our goals and will help ensure that a rural way of life in Hunterdon County will endure for future generations to enjoy.”
In addition to the Hunterdon Land Trust and East Amwell Township, The New Jersey Office of Natural Lands Management has recognized the importance of preserving land in East Amwell. Much of the Township is part of a designated Natural Heritage Priority Site due to its significance for grassland wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds including the state-threatened Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows and species of state-special concern Eastern Meadowlarks.
Funding for preserving the 61 acre property, which is currently a horse farm, was obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture, Federal Farm and Ranchland Program, in the amount of $158,119.00 and East Amwell Township in the amount of $141,881.