SANDY PERRY, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
PHONE: 908-234-1225, EXT. 104
Landmark hayfields preserved in Bedminster
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 08/10/16
BEDMINSTER TWP. - Every December, Cedar Ridge Farm becomes a local landmark when an evergreen tree decked in colorful lights is placed in the center of a large hayfield along Lamington Road.
Cedar Ridge Farm, Bedminster Township
"The farm with the Christmas tree in the field ... that's how I describe where I live to people," said Ryder Sollmann Ziebarth, whose family has owned the farm since 1945.
The holiday tradition was started by her husband, Michael, shortly after the couple took over the farm 20 years ago. Community members welcome the sight; the Ziebarths get notes in their mailbox thanking them for adding cheer to winter nights.
But the farm is just as beautiful in the summer, when the field is a swath of green. "We grow wonderful hay," said Ryder.
The hayfield, and another behind it, will stay agricultural in perpetuity, now that Ziebarths have preserved nearly 22 acres of their farm by selling the development rights.
"Preserving the front and back fields felt right to us," said Ryder Ziebarth. "I could not imagine ever having something built in that front field. It would just change the face of Bedminster."
The farm was preserved on Tuesday, Aug. 9, by a partnership led by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and consisting of Bedminster Township, Somerset County, the State Agriculture Development Committee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Cedar Ridge Farm was once part of the Richard Whitney estate, which encompassed about 1,000 acres. Ryder Ziebarth's paternal grandparents, Carl Henry Sollmann and Adele Sollmann, bought the farm in 1945 and raised their three children - Carl, Robert and Elyse - there.
Succeeding generations also made the farm their home. "It was a place where all the family came. Everybody loved being on the farm, especially in the summer," Ryder recalled. "It was an idyllic place to grow up."
Over time, she said, the family sold most of the original 358 acres but kept the heart of the farm: a historic farmhouse dating back to 1745 and surrounding barns, cottage, outbuildings, orchard and fields.
Ryder and Michael Ziebarth bought Cedar Ridge Farm in 1996 after the death of her uncle, Carl Sollmann, a local historian who lived there for many years after his parents passed on. The Ziebarths raised their daughter, Lizzie, there and completely renovated the farmhouse.
"It was a labor of love," said Ryder Ziebarth, who is writing a memoir of the farm. Another future project she envisions is renovating the farm's large barn.
The farm was preserved with funds from New Jersey Conservation Foundation's grants from the State Agriculture Development Committee and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Somerset County will hold the easement on the 22 acres.
"We're very excited to help preserve Cedar Ridge Farm," said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "It's is located at the gateway to rural Bedminster, and the sweeping views of the fields are an important part of Bedminster's scenic character."
State Conservationist Carrie Lindig said, "The Natural Resources Conservation Service is glad for every opportunity to partner with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation to protect New Jersey farmland, but we are especially pleased to assist with preserving Cedar Ridge Farm. Eighty-five percent of the soils on Cedar Ridge Farm are classified as prime soils. By putting a conservation easement on the farm, the Ziebarth family is ensuring that this important resource will be available to produce food and fiber for future generations."
"We're pleased to partner with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the preservation of this farm," said Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher, who chairs the State Agriculture Development Committee.
"Somerset County is pleased to have partnered with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Township of Bedminster to preserve the Ziebarth Farm," said Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, open space liaison. "This farm is a valuable addition to the county's preserved farmland inventory, which now exceeds 8,500 acres, and provides the potential for the extension of a farm belt across the northern portion of the county. We look forward to our continued partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation in preserving farmland and enhancing the industry of agriculture in Somerset County."
"We are pleased to see another landmark property preserved in western Bedminster," said Bedminster Mayor Steven Parker. "The Ziebarths have been responsible stewards of their land and we are fortunate that parcel will stay that way for generations to come."
Cedar Ridge Farm is near the preserved Harms and Piedilato farms along Lamington Road, and close to the township's River Road Park.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).
< Back to Press Releases