Farmer: Local construction hurts summertime business

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MONROE TOWNSHIP -

A Middlesex County farmer says that construction on a nearby condo development is hurting his business. 

Ben Konopacki owns Indyk’s Farm in Monroe Township. He says roads have been closed in the area due to construction on a new gas and sewer line for the development, cutting off his farm from its regular customers.

“Normally I’d get 30, 40 cars a day. Now, it’s a good day if I get one car,” he says.

The work started in May, which is the prime time for farm stands to sell their produce, according to Konopacki.

“With farming, you have to plan a year ahead of time. I got three days’ notice,” Konopacki says. “How do you fight that when they're digging up the road on a Thursday and you got notified on a Monday afternoon?”

The road is open to local traffic, so the farm is still accessible to the public. But the farmer says that families who would normally come to Indyk’s farm to pick strawberries or to buy produce stay away due to the road closure signs. He say that only a few die-hard customers will come by.

“This is the best produce you can get in New Jersey,” says customer Lenny Gets.

The farmland is preserved, which means Konopacki can't sell. He says that there isn't a mortgage, but there is a $10,000 yearly property tax bill.

“Money’s non-existent. You still have to pay bills,” he says.

Konopacki says that the farm has been in his family since 1940 when his grandfather bought it at an auction.

“I'm sentimental about it. I don't want to lose the farm,” he says. “That's about all I can say.”

The construction is supposed to conclude by the end of July, but Konopacki says that he believes that it will continue throughout the summer based on the pace of the work.

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