The McAlonan Family: Preserving Alloway Township's Farming Heritage

Farming is an unforgiving business under the best of circumstances—but is even more challenging in New Jersey, where development is steadily eating away at prime crop and pasture lands. Farmland preservation allows many New Jersey farmers, like the McAlonan family, to make their businesses more sustainable and preserve their communities’ agricultural heritage.

The McAlonan farms are in Alloway Township, a rural community in central Salem County rich in family farms, woods, and quiet lakeside communities. The family grows hay and corn, and raises sheep on two farms close to the banks of Alloway Creek.

The family sold the development rights on their land to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. They still own the land, which can now only be used for farming. The McAlonans invested the proceeds from the sale to invest in equipment and improvements, pay off mortgages and buy additional farmland.

When preserved farmland changes hands, the selling price is lower than land with development potential–an enormous help to beginning farmers.

The McAlonan’s land, which has been in the family for half a century, was preserved under a federal farmland program that emphasizes the protection of water, soil, wildlife and forests. Other partners in the farmland preservation projects were the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), the State Agriculture Development Committee and the Salem County Agriculture Development Board.

“These newly preserved properties have been in our family for over 50 years and, thanks to conservation, we can continue to keep our family farming legacy going. This preservation project helps us to reinvest in our farming operations to keep our farms viable. We are fixing old barns and doing other improvements. ”

Ray McAlonan, farmer

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