Shaley Hill Farm now in preservation

AFP Correspondent

HOPE TOWNSHIP, Warren County (March 15, 2015) —Heading west out on Johnsonburg Road, also known as Route 519 North, drivers slow down to check out Scott Cooke’s collection of antique tractors, just past the old stone farmhouse on the right.
Shaley Hill Farm, owned by Scott’s mother, Patricia, just joined the growing list of preserved Warren County Farms.
The name is a reference to the location on the terminal moraine of the Wisconsin Ice Age glacier that created the Slate Belt that crosses the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey parallel to Route 80. The upper fields feature a view of the Delaware Water Gap.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation announced the farm was preserved in early March.
Shaley Hill is not far from another farm recently preserved in Hope Township, but is on the border of Hope and Frelinghuysen townships. It is also close to Bear Creek Preserve and Jenny Jump State forest. Like other farms in the area, it is about 30 percent forested, according to Carrie Mosley, a state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. A group of partners joined together to purchase development rights from Patricia Cooke for $179,028, according to the NJCF press release.
Warren County, the State Agricultural Development Committee and the NRCS joined with the NJCF to buy the development rights.
Mosley said the farm’s proximity to the interstate probably creates a development threat, but the NRCS considers soil conditions and the protection of good soil as the paramount reason for preservation.
Scott Cooke grows corn and hay and raises sheep and cattle on the 48-acre farm. He is well-known in the county for his antique tractors.
The farm gained some notoriety in the early 1960s when a group of anti-Castro Cubans used the property to rehearse for an invasion. When Fred Cooke discovered them, he sent them off his property. The Cuban connection was featured in stories in the former Newark Evening News by the late Richard Harpster and in the Easton Express by the late F. David Hoff.
The press release from Michele Byers of the NJCF quotes Mosely as saying, “By preserving this farm in the Highlands region, we are protecting both the future of agriculture in the region and the resources that support the area’s communities.”