NEW YORK, NY - June 17, 2008 - In April 2008, the Open Space Institute awarded a $680,000 loan to the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center to help protect 110 acres in southern New Jersey. The loan supports the efforts of the Center to purchase a 46-acre farm adjacent to their existing property, and to limit development on their entire expanded site. The loan, critical to ensuring the purchase, will be paid back through a grant from the well-known Green Acres program, along with other sources.
The protection of Appel Farm adds to an emerging core of preserved lands in Upper Pittsgrove Township by linking to a network of existing protected farms. This community has been successful in preserving thousands of acres of prime farmland and woodland helping to maintain the rural character of the farming community.
"Upper Pittsgrove Township enjoys the distinction of having the largest amount of preserved farmland in the state," noted The Honorable Jack Cimprich, Mayor. "The acquisition of this parcel completes a network of land encircling Appel Farm, and we are delighted to have helped achieve this major milestone."
Upper Pittsgrove Township has also been extremely supportive of the project as Appel Farm is considered to be a rurally and environmentally sensitive area, and see preservation of this property as a key part of their overall farmland and open space preservation strategy
"This loan was pivotal in helping ensure that Appel Farm retain its unique status in an area that is increasingly targeted for development," noted Mark Packer, Executive Director of Appel Farm Arts and Music Center.
"Part of what makes us special is that we offer a secluded environment that fosters creativity as people connect with the natural landscape intrinsic to southern New Jersey. We are pleased that future generations will be able to enjoy this area in its unspoiled state."
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Green Acres Program has committed $700,000 for the purchase of a conservation easement on the property, which will ensure the preservation of the natural features of the property and will prohibit new development on the eased area. No subdivision or further residential development is permitted under the proposed easement allowing existing natural and agricultural areas to remain intact. In this case, only the core of the property will be used for passive recreational uses leaving the majority of land protected under the easement in its current natural state.
"We are pleased to join with the State of New Jersey, Upper Pittsgrove Township and the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center to further the protection of farmland in New Jersey," said Peter Howell, OSI's executive vice president.
"It is doubly rewarding that this project also helps to facilitate recreational and cultural activities that are compatible with open space preservation. The Appel Farm Arts and Music Center is to be applauded for integrating conservation with its cultural mission."
The Appel Farm addition property includes a functional 3,900 square foot residence, a barn, and other storage structures, and is otherwise comprised of approximately 26 acres of mature hardwoods, including wetlands, and approximately 20 acres of pasture.
The property provides an extensive natural buffer to the Center's existing site, allows for limited expansion of the camp facilities area, and permits the Center to gain ownership of improvements, including storage sheds that the organization utilizes but has only previously had access to through leases. It also provides a critical buffer to the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and the mature wooded wetlands on the property, and helps to protect the Palatine Brook, a tributary to the Muddy Run and Maurice River, which flow into the Delaware Bay.
The New Jersey Protection Fund was launched in January of 2003 with $3.5 million in Program Related Investments (PRIs) from the Geraldine R. Dodge and William Penn Foundations to support conservation in New Jersey. The fund operates throughout New Jersey but recognizes certain ecologically critical areas defined as the highest priorities by New Jersey's conservation community: the Highlands of the northwest; the Pinelands; the Barnegat Bay watershed; and the Delaware Bay Shore area.
OSI has made twelve loans in New Jersey, totaling $6.6 million to protect 10,551 acres. Loan beneficiaries have included a variety of New Jersey conservation organizations, including the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Morris Land Conservancy, D & R Greenway Inc., the Monmouth Conservation Foundation and the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge.