Number of the Day: 2,000

April 20, 2011 | Number of The Day

This month marked the 2,000th farm preserved under New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program, which allows farmers to sell their development easements to the state in return for financial capital. That enables New Jersey’s agricultural lands to be protected from development, while owners can farm their own land and obtain needed cash.

The program, which is administered by the state Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) is also promoting the fact that it has reached agreement to preserve 1,900 acres in Monmouth, Burlington and Mercer Counties, which it is purchasing from the Flemer family of Allentown and Upper Freehold. The family operated the property as Princeton nurseries. The state will create a 512-acre State Wildlife Management area, which has grasslands that provide the ideal habitat for birds such as pheasants, eastern meadowlarks and great blue herons. Another 500 acres will be added to the Monmouth and Mercer County Park systems’ Crosswicks Creek Greenway corridor. The last 900 acres will be preserved through acquisitions of development rights on farmland.

Funding for the acquisition ($27.8 million) was provided by state, county and nonprofit funds. The Green Acres Program, which provided $7.2 million for the project, is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first bond referendum.