It was a big deal, the signing, that is, of the Garden State Preservation Trust Act. For the first time in America’s history a stable, ongoing source of funding was established for the preservation of farmland.
The state legislation was signed in 1999 by then Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Where was it signed ? Next door, at the farm contiguous to Tuckaway, that of neighbors Karen Swift and her late husband, Harry.
That’s right. Over the brook and through the woods, there was a very colorful signing ceremony. It started with local dignitary/auto mechanic, the now late Jake Rick, driving down the Swift lane with the Governor in the passenger seat of Jake’s 1914, chain-driven Studebaker ! That’s the way it’s done it here in the country !
Christy Whitman is a very distinguished-looking woman. Fathom the scene as she walked in her Escada-looking dress and high heels, through the cow-pattied barnyard on her way to documents awaiting her signature.
Could the scene have been more appropriately choreographed ? Why shouldn’t it have been? This was all about farming, you know.
Since signing of the bill, the program has been quite successful. At the time of this writing, 233,751 acres of farmland are preserved in Jersey.
In our Alexandria Township alone, we’ve preserved 3200 acres of farmland, roughly half of the tillable ground in the township. A bunch more is in the pipeline.
It is safe to say that the construction of new houses in the state has been substantially quelled by the preservation of farmland. That’s fine by me. Sorry, builders !