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Newly preserved farm is "sacred space" for Bedminster couple


New Jersey Conservation Foundation

BEDMINSTER TWP.– Believing that open land is something to be revered and protected, Janet and Ignazio Piedilato named their 67-acre farm “Temenos” - Greek for “sacred space.”


“There’s nothing more beautiful than the land,” declared Janet Piedilato, a psychologist and environmentalist. The couple’s strong connection to the farm they bought six years ago led them to seek permanent preservation, a goal they recently achieved.


 Bedminster Township, working in partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and state and federal farmland preservation programs, purchased a 60-acre agricultural easement on “Temenos.” Although the farm, located near the southeast corner of Lamington and Larger Cross roads, will remain in private ownership, its development rights have been permanently extinguished.


Janet Piedilato couldn’t be happier that her beloved property will remain farmland forever.


 She still recalls visiting the farm with a real estate agent, who assured her and her husband that it was highly developable. “It broke my heart that the realtor was saying this land could be broken into six pieces,” she said. “We decided right away that we wanted to preserve it so that nobody would ever divide it.”


“Temenos” is currently used for primarily for growing hay, although the farm also has an organic vegetable garden planted from heirloom seeds, a berry patch, an herbal corner and a flower garden. The couple plans to pursue their dream of humanely raising cattle, sheep and chickens on part of their acreage.


The Piedilatos also plan to turn the seven acres surrounding their home into a spiritual and environmental sanctuary. They are creating a “Garden of Remembrance,” a quiet place for meditation and prayer. The garden, with a stone labyrinth designed after the one in the cathedral of Chartres, France, will be dedicated to their deceased children, Janette and Ignatius, and other relatives.


They have already restored the main house, built in the 1920s by the Scribner family, founders of the Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing company. In its heyday, the house was visited by luminaries such as Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. By the time the Piedilatos bought it, after several changes in ownership, the house had been neglected. As Janet Piedilato is a lover of books, she was excited to bring her library to a house once occupied by a publishing family.


Bedminster Mayor Robert Holtaway said he’s thrilled to see “Temenos” preserved rather than developed.


“I know that every real estate agent uses development potential to encourage a sale,” said Holtaway.  “I’m thankful that the Piedilatos found the property’s greatest value in its present state, and moved to use farmland preservation as a tool to protect that value forever.


“Bedminster is fortunate to have a number of families who understand the value of open space and farmland,” he added, “and we hope the Piedilatos’ actions will encourage neighbors to join them in helping to save this fragile world of ours.”


Bedminster bought the farmland easement using funds from New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s grant from the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, a Planning Incentive Grant from the State Agriculture Development Committee, and the township’s open space trust fund.


“Temenos” is the second farm to be preserved in Bedminster in the past six months. Last winter, the township bought an agricultural easement on the 86-acre Murphy farm off Spook Hollow Road.


New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, the Foundation has protected more than 120,000 acres, or 187 square miles. For more information on programs and preserves, visit www.njconservation.orgor call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).


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