64-acre Merrick Road active farm that was recently preserved thanks to Hamilton Township and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (Photograph courtesy of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation).
While over 21 percent of Hamilton Township has been permanently preserved as open space or farmland, township officials and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation have helped to save one of the community’s few remaining active farms.
For years, a nearly 64-acre Merrick Road property was owned by Anna Lord and was actively farmed by Hamilton resident Scott Ellis. However, after Lord passed away, her estate looked to sell the farm, which was being targeted for residential development.
When the New Jersey Conservation Foundation – which since 1960 has helped save over 125,000 acres of land across the state – noticed that the property was up for sale, the nonprofit organization approached Hamilton officials about preserving the farm.
Thanks to the joint effort, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation was able to negotiate a purchase price of $1,052,513; and Hamilton Township was able to use its open space trust to fund the acquisition. To help subsidize the cost of the open space purchase, Hamilton secured a $500,000 grant the Mercer County Open Space fund and is also seeking New Jersey Green Acres program funding that could reimburse the remaining costs.
“New Jersey Conservation Foundation is pleased to help preserve this former family farm,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We applaud the township for its commitment to preserving the rural character of the southeast corner of the township, and we look forward to partnering with Hamilton Township on other projects.”
Thanks to the recent acquisition, approximately 5,500 acres have been permanently preserved in Hamilton as open space. Over the past decade, some major open space acquisitions in Hamilton include:
- Hoagland Nursery – 6.75 acres (April 2011)
- Pearlam Farm – 27.33 acres (September 2012)
- Vaishnav Farm – 59.50 acres (January 2015), preserved with the assistance of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
- Black Farm – 21.95 acres (December 2015), preserved with the assistance of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
- Millas/Youngs Road – 5.7 acres (November 2017)
- Diocese/Doctors Creek – 13.3 acres (December 2017), preserved with the assistance of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
“I’m proud of the fact that, even though Hamilton is the state’s ninth most populous town, we have permanently preserved over 21 percent of our community. As we continue to target key remaining lands where preservation would truly benefit our residents, we also will have a keen eye to the future in terms of ways that we might be able to enhance recreational opportunities on some of these lands, particularly through trails or other offerings,” says Mayor Yaede.