WASHINGTON TWP, N.J. (Morris County) – The Morris County Agriculture Development Board last week permanently preserved the Scheller Farm, a 43-acre nursery products farm on Flocktown Road, in Washington Township.
The purchase of the development easement on this property by the Morris County CADB restricts the land from non-agricultural uses, thus permanently preserving the farm.
It is the 128th preserved farm in Morris County and the 74th preserved agricultural property in Washington Township, according to Katherine Coyle, director of the Morris CADB.
The Scheller Farm is located within a half-mile of four preserved farms and adjacent to Washington Township’s Cataract Park.
The easement purchase was made in conjunction with a grant from the State Agriculture Development Committee, which provided 55 percent of the $889,065 acquisition price, or $491,397 to preserve the farm. The Morris County Open Space, Farmland, Floodplain Protection and Historic Preservation Trust Fund provided the remaining $397,668.
“This is terrific program that has over the past three decades been very effective in preserving Morris County agricultural roots, and effectively creating a permanent and viable agricultural business district in the county,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, the county governing board’s liaison on preservation matters.
The farm was owned by George Scheller Sr. and his son Mr. George Scheller Jr. Both passed away a few years ago and their estate had to resolve legal issues before preservation could proceed.
The farm has an interesting history – many years ago, the property was owned and used as a hunting preserve and also once served as a back lot film studio for Thomas Edison.
After the county purchased the development easement on Wednesday, the Scheller estate then sold the newly preserved farm to the Fleming family, which currently operate a Christmas tree farm and plans to expand production to this property.
In contrast to open space preservation, the agricultural landowner retains ownership of, and may even choose to sell, the preserved farmland. But the land retains a deed restriction ensuring that it cannot undergo non-farm development.
Agricultural development of the farm is permitted and the type of farming activity can change in the future.
Preservation of the Scheller Farm brings the total area of preserved farmland in the county to 7,821 acres or the equivalent of 12 square miles, which is approximately the area of Long Hill Township, which is the 15th largest municipality in Morris County.
(The Scheller Farm on Flocktown Road in Washington Twp.)