Farmers interested in tilling soil in New Jersey state parks have a chance to bid on acreage next week.

Townsquare Digital
Townsquare Digital

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducts auctions in Robbinsville and Oxford for leases on 2,744 acres it owns that's managed by the state Park Service in a dozen parks, forests and recreation areas.

In Central Jersey, acreage is available in Allaire State Park, Monmouth Battlefield, Rancocas, Upper Freehold, Washington Crossing, and Delaware and Raritan Canal State Parks, and Spruce Run Recreation Area.

North Jersey sites include High Point, Hopatcong, Kittatinny Valley adn Wawayanda State Parks and Jenny Jump State Forest.

Tracts run in size from 1.56 acres in Wawayanda to parcels of almost 100 acres in Monmouth Battlefield. Leases run five years, with options for three five-year renewals. According to state officials, multi-year leases open eligibility to fedeal conservation or set-aside programs.

The farm lease program began with 49 tracts in 2009. There are 45 available this year. Rich Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources, said that the public-private partnerships are integral to the agency's goals.

"We hope the availability of these long-term leases will encourage farmers to consider working public lands for the mutual benefit of the agricultural community as well as the public," Boornazian said in a prepared statement.

Soil types set the criteria for rental values and minimum bids, which are set 20 percent below soil rental rates established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Farmers who wish to preregister can do so up until 5 PM on Thursday, September 24. Registration material can be found in the farm lease tab on the DEP web page.

The Central Jersey auction takes place September 29, 11 AM, in the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area in Robbinsville. The North Jersey auction follows on October 1, 11 AM, at the Pequest Trout Hatchery in Oxford.

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