No matter how many houses you see in the residential developments around town, you can’t go very far without seeing a corn field. And this year, you’ll also see your share of soybeans.

There was a time when a main crop growing on the West Windsor farms was potatoes. But, apparently that has not been true for some time now. I remember that potatoes had to be stored locally and then shipped while they were still fresh, but it may be that they turned out to be a too expensive to grow on a small farm in New Jersey.

And by some standards it must be realized that farms in New Jersey are not very large when compared to those in, say, Iowa and other parts of the upper midwest.

But this year, we have corn and soybeans. Soybean plants are lower to the ground than corn, and each holds its beans in small pods.

As you drive around town, about the only thing you see growing that isn’t corn is soybeans. Everyone knows what corn looks like. I don’t know how many acres of each we have growing this year, but there seems to be a lot.

When we think about what will become of some of our remaining undeveloped land, we should not discount the possibility of continuing to farm it. And I don’t mean just corn and soybeans.

This is where creative thinking on the part of the land owners can be of benefit to the township. And it’s where the supposedly clever and innovative people in charge of the Howard Hughes property might show us if they are as clever as they think they are.

Frankly, it’s kind of boring and predictable when large landowners like Hughes talk about their development plans. Bigger is always better, and spending a lot of money on development is the way to go.

But there are alternatives to the usual boring office complex. The Carnegie Center is an example of the latter. Is West Windsor a better place to live now that we have it than it was before?

As one who has lived and worked in West Windsor since 1957, I think that in many ways it was a better place to live back then than it has become with all the elaborate buildings and parking lots. Let’s hear some really innovative ideas from Hughes.

Dare I suggest that Howard Hughes might become West Windsor’s most innovative farmer? Why not? There are many possibilities for combined land uses that don’t involve putting up a large office building. And they don’t all mean we will have more people as a result.

Earlier this year, I wrote about some ideas for alternative ways to develop the Hughes property.

About the only realistic suggestion not mentioned in that story was farming. But since farms are so prominent in the current landscape, they should still be included in the possibilities.

In fact, it would be interesting to see how the “business experts” at Hughes handle the problem of how to set up a workable and profitable farm in West Windsor.

If they are as good at business as they are reputed to be, let them show us in the farming business. And that doesn’t involve building a fancy office building. All you need is the land and a few machines like tractors and plows. Of course you also need the people who know how to use them in the dirt. But for an outfit like Howard Hughes that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

Another idea that has been put forward for the use of a portion of that property is the creation of a lake. There are several areas there where the land would be suitable for such use. There are several small waterways that could be dammed up to provide the source. One of these is Little Bear Brook.

Most of the time this stream flows from west to east across the middle of West Windsor and empties into the Millstone River. Although the Delaware and Raritan Canal traverses the township as it forms the boundary between West Windsor and Princeton, its water would not be available for such a lake since it is confined by the canal embankment.

Nevertheless, a lake could be an attractive asset for the property. Think of the boating and fishing that could provide new recreation sources for the township. And Howard Hughes should think of the potential revenue available from these sources.

Other approaches to the use of the Hughes property were discussed in my story of last March. They included a couple of museums, a cultural center, and an amusement park. Think of the possibilities. But it’s unfortunately likely that Hughes will opt for a use that shows little imagination and settles for the easiest and cheapest way to do whatever they end up doing.