Few, if any, acts are as a generous as that of giving a gift of land to your community. This gift will shape the cultural fabric of a place forever. On this beautiful fall day, surrounded by the sun dappled oak-maple forest we’ve come to realize that Anderson Woods is really so much more than a plot of land. It is a great American story about an adventurous young couple who moved to Harding in the 1950’s to lead a life of creativity and simplicity.

Edgar and Joyce Anderson built their home with their own hands, stone by stone, board by board, and set up shop to translate the nature around them into beautiful works of art. Tucked into the woods and hidden from the busy roadways that border the property, the two artists have created a very private world. Over the past half century, the Andersons have lived and worked side by side on their land while establishing a reputation among the country’s foremost designers of the last century.

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Their approach to design reveals their deep relationship with the land and everything on it. Although they moved to Harding to escape the suburban pressures of Essex County, they found that it wasn’t long before, suburbia found them. Unthwarted, Joyce and Edgar Anderson simply rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The Andersons have been outspoken participants in municipal discussions about land use policy and they have consistently supported efforts to protect the township’s environmentally sensitive ecology and rural character.

The Anderson’s decision to preserve their property was made long ago, and this dream was realized when Harding Land Trust, Harding Township and New Jersey Audubon closed on the property in 2008. Under the preservation arrangement, the Andersons continue to live in their home and use the studio and barn for as long as they live. Harding Land Trust controls the surrounding wooded acreage and, eventually, New Jersey Audubon will take over the house, studio and buildings on the property to use as a museum.

A sign was recently placed along Tempe Wick Road to commemorate the gift and a small ceremony was held with the Andersons and representatives from Harding Land Trust, New Jersey Audubon and Harding Township. On that occasion, Edgar Anderson remarked, “Joyce and I are so pleased with all the contributions of Harding Land Trust, the Audubon Society and Harding Township on the long road-seven years–from a concept map to establishing Andersons Woods.”