Click here to preview Strange Inheritance episode featuring Meadowtree Farm and land preservation that premiered on national television March 12, 2018
Meadow Tree Farm lies at the foothills of the Sourland Mountain range. The property extends the buffer protecting the Stony Brook and adds to the Stony Brook Greenway.
The farm’s owners, Tim and Sandy Perkins continue to own the farm with the conservation easement. The farm had been owned by Sandy Perkins’s mother since the 1960s; however, over the years both the land and the family home had become rundown and neglected. According to Sandy and Tim, the property was so overgrown, they didn’t even realize it stood upon a small hill. A substantial investment was required to restore the land to a healthy and productive state and renovate the house, so that Sandy and Tim could make the family farm their home.
D&R Greenway worked with Sandy and Tim to customize a preservation solution that would provide the funds to allow Meadow Tree Farm to remain in the Perkins family. This included placing a conservation easement on their property, which will provide significant financial and tax advantages in exchange for retiring the land’s development rights and protecting its natural resources. In addition, the Perkins are combining active farming with wildlife habitat restoration. By participating in a Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), the Perkins will receive ongoing compensation for cultivating fields of native grasses that provide habitat essential to sustain threatened and endangered species of birds.
Meadow Tree Farm lies in the migratory path of hundreds of species of neo-tropical birds who stopover or breed in the Sourlands. “During the spring and fall migrations our meadows and woodlands are covered with birds,” commented Tim Perkins, “and since we planted native grasses a year ago we have seen a marked increase in the number of birds feeding here. The open fields and native plants offer a hospitable environment. The migratory birds are able to observe this landscape as they fly overhead and swoop down to take advantage of it.”
After the spring nesting season the Perkins are able to harvest their native grasslands, generating a cash crop of hay, as well as fodder for their two horses.
The preservation of Meadow Tree Farm offers a replicable model for other “gentleman farmers” throughout central New Jersey. Its structure provides multiple benefits – for the landowner, the community and the natural world. The Perkins receive a financial benefit for preserving their land as permanent open space and for cultivating and maintaining grassland bird habitat. The community benefits from the safeguarding of land, wildlife and the rural heritage of the Princeton- Hopewell-Lawrenceville area. Because Sandy and Tim Perkins also designated 15 easily accessible acres of their farm for use as a public trail network, the community also gains a beautiful natural area to walk and hike through.
According to Linda Mead, “The preservation of Meadow Tree Farm is a perfect example of the kind of “win-win” solution D&R Greenway strives for each and every time we approach a project. This is the best possible outcome – family property remaining in family ownership and the public enjoying the many benefits of protected natural lands. Sandy and Tim Perkins have established a permanent legacy that will strengthen the community in which they live.”
This property includes the 10,000th acre of land preserved by D&R Greenway.