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Jam Lady

Farmland Preservation in New Jersey

So what's your opinion - does putting up these hoop houses count as farming / agricultural use or not? My concern is what happens in the future when hoop houses are no longer in use. And by the way, I believe that what he's producing are annuals and vegetable plants to be sold in spring at big box stores.

http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2015/07/grower_in_nj_must_restore_preserved_farmland_appea.html#incart_2box_hunterdon_index.ssf
Piggyphile

Quote:
prime agricultural land — capable of supporting such field crops as corn, wheat, barley, hay, oats and soy beans.


Hardly rare crops, only 20 acres worth and the method of growing is surely more important than the crop, and mixed plant growing to replace it isn't necessarily a bad thing. If he owns the land then unused hoop houses will surely be cleared when he has finished with them or his land value decreases. I don't think there is enough info in the article for me to make any final judgement, are hoop houses the same as polytunnels? Mine is anchored into the soil and I grow in the soil and I manure heavily so the soil remains intact, the cover just helps delicate crops and extends the season. If he has cleared the soil and laid it all on concrete then that is a different matter.
Mistress Rose

I agree with Piggyphile; there is not enough information to go on. I do however know of several sites not too far from us where glasshouses and polytunnels have been left for years. In one case I think someone else is using part of the site and has recovered some of the polytunnels, but broken glass on another site makes it virtually unusable for anything. This is in the south of England where land is at a premium.

Certainly turning farmland into a plant nursery is not really a good idea if everything is on concrete. On the other hand, if it is on soil, then diversification is sometimes needed to keep the farm viable financially.
Rob R

It's agricultural, in the same way that erecting an intensive pig/hog farm is still agricultural. I don't, however, think it is within the spirit of the Program. It's factory farming.
Jam Lady

Farmland Preservation - New Jersey wants to protect high quality agricultural soils. Development rights are sold but you continue to own the land.

http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/farmpreserve/

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmland_preservation

The issue here is that he dug off the soil, put up hoop houses.

"The nurseryman had been the target of environmentalists since before 2003, when the Delaware Riverkeeper Network joined opponents who said the excavation work was not in accordance with the restrictions placed on the land, said Tracy Carluccio, the riverkeeper network’s deputy director.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, the soil is some of the best in New Jersey, capable of supporting crops such as corn, wheat, oats, hay, barley and soy beans.

The construction, Carluccio said, removed the soil mantle, transported much of the soil itself and replaced it all with a swath of impervious surfaces in the form of plastic-wrapped greenhouses called hoop houses. Not all of the soil was disturbed, Carluccio said, but enough was destroyed that it could present some problems to the area’s water supply, which supports about a million homes in central New Jersey.

"It increases the stormwater run-off, and there’s the loss of groundwater recharge," she said."

The business "grows perennials, mums and annuals and focuses on sales to large retailers, garden centers, cemeteries, supermarkets and smaller stores, the website states."

My understanding is that the plants - all in pots - are benched. Yes it is still agricultural - that's his response - but not in the intent of the law. The high quality of the land is no longer being maintained. BTW - what's under discussion is about 20 acres of a well over 100 acre parcel.
dpack

It's agricultural, in the same way that erecting an intensive pig/hog farm is still agricultural. I don't, however, think it is within the spirit of the Program. It's factory farming.


this seems about right.

i recon intensive/industrial is one thing and open/organic/conservation etc is another
Ty Gwyn

I thought it was Horticulture once you grew in a covered area.
Mistress Rose

Think that will depend upon the definition of agricultural in the country/state involved. In the UK that would be defined as a change of use, but might not in NJ.

I think we define things differently in the UK. In a case like this we have areas that are designated as high sensitivity for water catchment; can't remember the precise name. The Environment Agency and the water extraction company have to view any major planning applications and can get limitations put on them or even get them kicked out.

There was a similar fuss when a local farmer started ploughing up ancient grassland because it was to become 'access land' under the CRoW act. Luckily he hadn't done too much damage and it was just bedded down again. Did get some weeds in the field for a few years, but it is back to pasture now.
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