Freda R. Savana for Heritage Conservancy
It could be said that Gary and Amy Manoff have farming in their blood. For more than three decades, the couple has lovingly labored to create one of the area’s most bountiful farms in Solebury Township on land that they leased from Heritage Conservancy.
Manoff Market Gardens on Comfort Road is rich with acres and acres of sour cherries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and much more, including its own cidery. But it was not always the productive, picturesque landscape it is today.
While the 35-acre property’s highly productive agricultural soils were well understood, the land had not been nurtured for some time when Harriett I. Roberts gifted it to Heritage Conservancy in the early 1980s.
With complete confidence in the property’s potential to be a successful farm, the Conservancy entered into a long-term lease with the Manoffs, who were thrilled to take on the challenge of transforming this uniquely beautiful land into a viable farming enterprise.
The Manoffs set to work to incorporate many facets of environmentally sustainable business practices, including the adoption of a soil conservation plan to preserve the farm’s rich soil as well as the creation of waterways and terraces to control and reuse rain water runoff. They also installed a water conservation irrigation system to hydrate crops while minimizing water waste.
“It has been a living example of a successful sustainable farming project between farmers and a land trust like Heritage Conservancy,” said Jeffrey Marshall, Heritage Conservancy’s President.
Thanks to the innovative vision of Heritage Conservancy, Solebury Township’s commitment to land preservation, and 36 years of the Manoffs’ hard work and unyielding devotion, the couple now owns the land they’ve skillfully tended after recently purchasing it from Heritage Conservancy.
“I have known the Manoffs for more than 40 years, and I was thrilled when they rented the former Roberts property that had been an old orchard in need of attention. Together, Gary and Amy transformed the property into the local treasure we have now,” said Stephen Phillips, Heritage Conservancy’s Chairman of the Board. “I am very pleased that Heritage Conservancy was able to work with Solebury Township to sell the land to the Manoffs and preserve it in perpetuity. I cannot think of better stewards of the property, and I’m confident they can continue to make the land productive and sustainable.”
Solebury Township invested in acquiring the property’s conservation easement, adding it to the municipality’s considerable acreage of protected open space. “Approximately 40 percent of Solebury is classified as open space,” said Edric Mason, Chair of the Land Preservation Committee.
“This conservation easement helps preserve a strong farming economy in the Township,” said Mason, where agriculture is a primary industry. The preservation also protects Solebury’s critical ground water resources by recharging aquifers, while its location in the Laurel Run watershed further enhances it value.
A very pleased Amy Manoff shared, “Heritage Conservancy made all this possible.”
The result of this visionary partnership is a farm that produces some of the most sought after fruit in the area while the Manoffs continue to cultivate new techniques that ensure a steadfast commitment to soil conservation and sustainable agricultural practices. The couple’s improvement of the land can’t be overstated, as they made it possible to support the orchards.
“There’s only so much investment you can make to improve someone else’s property,” said Amy Manoff. “Now that we own it, we can move forward and think of the next generation. It’s a pretty cool thing.”