TRENTON — The nickname "Garden State" has already appeared on every new license plate in the state since 1954, but a proposed law would also make the words the official state slogan.

"Garden State" was first made popular by Camden attorney Abraham Browning during the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition in August of 1876 according to state Sen. Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, who sponsored the bill.

Browning, who owned a farm in Cherry Hill, said he called it the Garden State because of its "geographical and agricultural relationship with new York and Pennsylvania," according to the bill.

The law requiring the phrase to be put on all license plates was enacted in 1954 and now more than 60 years later there remains more than 2,000 preserved farms in the state and more than 290,000 acres of preserved farmland. The bill also notes there are more than 9,000 farms covering more than 700,000 acres of farmland.

State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said the idea to make it the official state slogan came from a Girl Scout troop.

"It's sort of a lesson to, in this case, a Girl Scout troop as to how the Legislature works," he was quoted as saying by NorthJersey.com.