MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Do you shop at farmers markets and local roadside stands for fruits and vegetables? Perhaps your family prefers local garden shops to big-box stores for finding spring and summer plants. Some people just love visiting Morris County’s many farms to see the animals, pick pumpkins and breathe the country air. Then again, maybe none of it matters to you.
Morris County needs to know. Take part in an easy, online survey that will help Morris County determine how to plan farm preservation efforts for the next decade. You can click on the survey here.
From now through July 9, the survey will be open to collect the opinions and observations of residents, visitors and farmers on the importance they place on farming in Morris County and what they envision for the future. The data is part of an effort to update the county’s Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan – an important step for Morris County to continue receiving state funds for its Farmland Preservation Program, which has preserved more than 100 farms, while allowing the farm owners to continue to own and operate their properties.
“Funding for the Farmland Preservation Program comes from the Morris County Preservation Trust and from the State Agriculture Development Committee or SADC. Under the state’s rules, each county must adopt and update a Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan to be eligible for the state funding we put towards preserving our dwindling farms,” said Katherine Coyle, Director of the Morris County Agriculture Development Board.
The Morris County Board of County Commissioners created the county Agriculture Development Board in 1983 to oversee the Farmland Preservation Program. Since 1987, when the 14-acre Cupo Farm in Washington Township became the first property preserved through the program, 138 farms totaling over 8,000 acres have been permanently preserved in Morris County.
Through the program, the property owners enter into agreements that permanently preserve their farms as farmland, while allowing them to continue to own and operate the land.
The Agriculture Development Board needs to update its preservation plan, which was last overhauled in 2008, and is working with Heyer Gruel & Associations to finalize the effort. The plan will provide an overview of agriculture in Morris County, along with mapping showing the Agriculture Development Areas, as well as project areas where the county has or will preserve farms in the future.
It will also prioritize lands for preservation based on input from the public and from existing county planning documents.
The public will also have an opportunity to provide comments during the county Agriculture Development Board’s July 1, 2021 monthly meeting.