Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Preservation Hopes

Preservation Hopes

The old barn on the Van Dyke Farm still stands as testament to the farm's history as an important contribution to the "Breadbasket of the East." New Jersey's farms were vital to the economy of the new nation before and after the Revolution.

Today, one of the old barns still stands. While it is hard to date the building without a more thorough study, historical experts believe it to be well over 100 years old. Some loving care and work could revive it to become a valuable part of the Van Dyke historic preservation efforts.

The Van Dyke Farm has been recognized by Preservation New Jersey as one of its endangered historic sites of 2006. Selected from several hundred candidates, the farm moved on to the top ten list because of its historical significance and its prime location next to the Pigeon Swamp State Park.

We are hopeful such recognition and support will help encourage negotiations between developer Joe Morris and the State, County and Township agencies interested in purchasing the farm for preservation.

Currently all the farmland is in active farming, with a local farmer growing field corn for potential agrifuel. Today, large tractors plow the fertile soil for planting, replacing the old hand and horse plows of colonial times. It is remarkable to consider that this land has been farmed now for well over two, perhaps even three hundred years. This is certainly a treasure worthy of protection.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

Hope Springs Eternal

Things may well be moving along on preserving the Van Dyke farm. The developer has met with State and local officials and there seem to be some developments. While I cannot report on any success yet, hopes are high that we may make some progress on this important project.

In the meantime, the EVA has continued its efforts to teach the marvelous history of our area and the farm in particular. We have a display of photographs taken in the Pigeon Swamp State Park, the farm, and surrounding areas of the Eastern Villages Association and plan on showing them at the South Brunswick Library and the South Brunswick Municipal Building in the near future. As well, we have obtained an exciting collection of historic items from the Van Dyke farm collected by former resident Arthur Van Dyke. Included are an old cannonball, some Native American arrowheads, other tools and an amazing handmade covered wagon toy.

Our township historian, Ceil Leedom, is currently examining a collection of old deeds as well as the original sale document of Amy, the family slave. There is also a beautiful spinning wheel which may date back to the early years of the farm.

We hope to display these precious artifacts as well in the future. The Van Dyke farm's incredible heritage has been preserved for well over 200 years. We hope to share its treasures for many more years to come.