Rosenhaus farm stands as ag oasis in township

AFP Correspondent

MORRIS TOWNSHIP — This is a sprawling doughnut-shaped upper middle class community known for an Orthodox Jewish Rabbinical School, two Roman Catholic prep schools and one women’s college as well as rambling manor houses.
It’s not known for farms.
The monks at St. Mary’s Abbey once farmed and there are about a dozen small tracts in farmland assessment, but there is only one true farm, the Rosenhaus family’s community-supported garden on Picatinny Road.
Albie and Sharon Rosenhaus grow vegetables and keep chickens and some livestock on their 48-acre farm.
They are the fourth generation of the family to farm the land, and they applied to Morris County for farmland preservation.
Katherine Coyle, director of the county Agriculture Development Board, said her agency can start the appraisal process now that the township committee has adopted a right-to-farm ordinance.
While agriculture has always been a permitted use in the township, the new ordinance creates an overlay zone with additional protection for farming operations.
The ordinance incorporates best management practices and county and state regulations on livestock density, manure storage and disposal, fencing and silage maintenance.
The planning board spent much of its discussion on regulating farm stands and seasonal uses, although, as a CSA, Rosenhaus has an established clientele.
Board members thought the ordinance might encourage some of the smaller farms to set up stands and wanted parking and lighting controls to limit intrusion on neighbors.
Coyle said it should take about 12 months to complete the preservation process.
The preservation grant will be from county money only, Coyle said.
Morris County has two other farms pending preservation: The Wendover Partnership 40-acre property in Mendham Township and Willow Pond Farm, 101 acres, in Washington Township.
There are 72 county farms in preservation at a total acquisition cost of $4,793,784, according to the ag board website.