We talk to Lorna Farmer, counselor, artist and open space preservationist. Here is an excerpt from that interview:
If you see three hats hanging together in Tewksbury Township, they probably belong to the multi-talented Lorna Farmer. As a psychotherapist she directs the Counseling Center at Centenary College in Hackettstown and has a private practice in Oldwick; she is an artist and an environmentalist who is a passionate advocate for saving the countryside in New Jersey. That’s what we talked about here.
Environmentally speaking, what have you been involved in?
I was on the Tewksbury Township Environmental Commission and then on the planning board for six years.
I was also on the board of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association and I was a founding board member of LUMAT, Tewksbury’s land use management association, which has since morphed into other groups. Right now I’m a member of Citizens to Save Tewksbury.
Isn’t there a housing shortage in New Jersey? Why do we need all this open space, anyway?
Living in the countryside leads you to feel a certain way. Narrow roads make you drive slowly. Your heart rate goes down. You breathe deeply. You’re looking at peaceful views. It’s a de-stressor. With less manmade stimulation, you’re able to live a more peaceful, slower paced life.
I live in Tewksbury Township, which consists of 35 square miles of hills and fields, and five small historic villages: Pottersville, Oldwick, Mountainville, Fairmount and Cokesbury. We have narrow roads and two stoplights. It’s a nine-mile drive to the nearest supermarket. This life is not for everybody. When they visit, my parents hate not being able to shop nearby. But residents love it. That’s why we live here.
Are you saying that where you live has a psychological effect?
Absolutely. A more urban environment is stimulating but can be stressful, with all the noise, bright lights and movement. People tend to get tense, keyed up.
So country living has health benefits?
I definitely believe that open space is calming and centering. We get more in touch with our own inner selves in an environment where we can more closely relate to nature. Not that manmade stimulation is bad, but if we want to know more about ourselves, we need the countryside. And not filled with what people call “improvements” but just the way it is.
Read the entire interview for more about conservation in the new January/February issue of New Jersey Countryside, available now at bookstores, on newsstands and by subscription.