Posted Friday, December 27th, 2013

The Morris CountyAgriculture Development Board on Dec. 26 permanently preserved the Willow Pond Farm in Washington Township.

This purchase by the Morris CADB restricts the land from non-agricultural uses, thus permanently preserving the 101-acre farm on Drakestown Road, which is in close proximity to four other preserved farms in the township, said Katherine Coyle, director of the Morris CADB.

Willow Pond Farm has been owned and operated by Mr. Robert Smith since 1978. Mr. Smith grows grain and field crops.

The Willow Pond Farm purchase, for a total acquisition price of $1,347,465, was funded by the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund.

In contrast to open space preservation, the landowner retains ownership of, and may even choose to sell, the preserved land with a deed restriction ensuring that the land will not undergo non-farm development, Coyle said. Agricultural development of the farm is permitted and the type of farming activity can change in the future.

“Agriculture plays a major role in Morris County’s economy,” said Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo. “Farmland is a natural resource that can not be replaced. The freeholders are very proud of the county’s farmland preservation program.”

Willow Pond Farm is the 120th farm to be permanently preserved in Morris County. That brings the total area for preserved farmland in the county to 7,424 acres or the equivalent of 11.6 square miles.