‘A market niche that will increase in proportion to our own land preservation and surrounding development’

| 18 Jan 2021 | 05:32

    Will Brown and Barbara Felton have an application before the Vernon planning board for their land which was the old Ricky Farm on route 94. They hope to put in a commercial kitchen, modify the parking areas, install a new sewage disposal system sufficient to accommodate their hoped for expansion of their existing farm store, a livestock butcher area and accommodations for rural wedding type events.

    I write in support of their efforts.

    My family has known Will and Barbara for many years. In 1985 they purchased their farm near our own Meadowburn Farm. After years of New York city-based labor they saw the light and settled in Warwick. After initially leasing their land out for farming activities, in 2004 they acquired their own beef cows.

    In 2007 they permanently preserved their 293-acre farm from development with a deed restriction through the Purchase of Development Rights program.

    My family refers to Will as “Farmer Brown.” He left Wall Street to pursue a different kind of life. He and Barbara have made Warwick, New York, and Vernon, New Jersey, their home and work. A very special kind of sustainable farming that benefits us all.

    From his cattle drives down the road to a wave from inside his beat up old pick up truck Will Brown is a hands-on farmer. To resent a man who made some money in New York City and spent a lot of it within our township is not thoughtful. Hopefully, the days of the huge Midwestern-based feedlot farms are waning and local, good solid pasture-raised food will continue to be available.

    Beyond that, Vernon has embraced Agro Echo Tourism. We have seen the light when it comes to a clean and cost efficient tax base for our township.

    When you become a rural island surrounded by a sea of suburban (and increasingly urban) existence, and the inhabitants of those places flock to our environment for a glimpse of nature in all its beauty and to purchase our local agricultural products, and they leave money behind and low expenses for our tax dollars, we are blessed.

    This is a market niche that will increase in proportion to our own land preservation and surrounding development. These visitors who enjoy the beauty of the land that we cherish do not cause expense for our school systems, and most other municipal expenses.

    They leave behind happy karma for their reprieve from where they live and they also leave behind good solid dollars for our community.

    Will has been a board member of the Orange County Land Trust since 2011. He and Barbara are dedicated land preservationist who recognizes the psychological, environmental and beautiful benefits to land preservation. We should encourage the opportunity for farmers to process their livestock and sell their farms produce. The creation of good jobs within our township in line with the direction our township is going is sensible.

    Will has sold his farming produce through Pennings, Rasowskis and various farm markets as well as from his own barn. We should strive not to be a Disneyland that people drive through after paying admission at the door. This is a real vibrant township with expenses that need to be paid and local jobs that need to be created.

    Anything that enhances our local business’s and encourages visitors to come and leave money to be re-circulated in our community is a good thing. If that activity helps to maintain beautiful open spaces that we all love and cherish, that is an added and extraordinary benefit.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Dan Gerard

    Meadowburn Farm

    Vernon, N.J.