The specific area of the Preserve that is occupied by Project Chew was not an active field when the land was acquired. The approximately 4 acre area sits between our reforestation area and the river. The land is high and dry and soils are similar to those in the other agricultural fields. A review of historic aerials shows the area was actively farmed until about 1990. By the time The Land Conservancy acquired the property in 2010, the 4 acre field was early successional.
In 2015 The Land Conservancy’s Stewardship Manager, Dennis Briede, observed some small spots of mile-a-minute vine in an area of our Preserve. Within two years it was clear that this invasive vine had overtaken the entire field, and The Land Conservancy was determined to find a non-chemical method of eradicating this invasive plant due to proximity to the South Branch of the Raritan River. Project Chew is our non-chemical solution to the problem.
The Land Conservancy began researching the use of goats & sheep to browse the invasive vine was the best alternative to broadcasting herbicide.After speaking with and meeting many goat farms and farmers in two states, we developed a partnership with Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary located in Frelinghuysen Township. Together we determined the methodology designed to have the entire project area grazed, and to keep the livestock securely contained within. Antler Ridge would provide the livestock, now known as “The Chew Crew” and was a great success!
The centerpiece of our restoration efforts and land management program is the 405-acre South Branch Preserve located at the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River in Mt. Olive, South Branch Preserve protects watershed land which services over 1½ million New Jersey residents.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded The Land Conservancy of New Jersey its Environmental Quality Award in 2012 for this project. The Environmental Quality award is the highest recognition presented to the public by EPA.” The Land Conservancy also accepted the Sustainable Raritan River Award on behalf of the South Branch Preserve Partnership for its work in preserving the watershed supporting the South Branch of the Raritan River.
The Community Garden is located on a quarter-acre on the westbound side of Wolfe Road, near its intersection with Route 46 East. It is part of South Branch Preserve, which totals over 200 acres in this location. The Land Conservancy established a 145 plot at South Branch Preserve, immediately adjacent to the native forest restoration site. Plans are in place to construct a kiosk at the site with a local Boy Scout troop. Volunteers from BASF, Mars Corporation, and First Energy have contributed their time and energy transforming the land for the Garden. The Garden has been sold out for each of its first three years.
The garden is surrounded by fencing, to keep out deer and rodents, including rabbits and groundhogs. A shed will be located onsite, which will house some gardening supplies. Gardeners will be encouraged to bring their own gardening tools. Water will be provided by The Land Conservancy. Only organic gardening practices will be allowed at the Preserve.
For additional information, to reserve a plot, or volunteer, contact Barbara McCloskey at (973) 541-1010, x14, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Green Farms at South Branch Preserve was established in 2018. This unique partnership between The Land Conservancy of New Jersey and City Green affords space and opportunity to vastly increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be provided by the two organizations to low-income residents and food pantries. The existing Community Garden at South Branch Preserve was already providing hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to local food pantries each season. With the leasing of their 12-acre organic vegetable farm to City Green Farms, the Land Conservancy anticipates increasing food pantry donations of locally grown fruits and vegetables by at least 1,000 pounds per season.
Native Forest Restoration: A 6,600 foot deer enclosure fence was erected around 37 acres of land so that a local farmer could replant the former corn fields with a seed mixture of native warm season grasses. Supported by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation, we have planted 7,410 native trees and shrubs, transforming these former corn fields to native forest and provided a forested riparian buffer for three-quarters of a mile stretch of the South Branch of the Raritan River. With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we have installed 24 bluebird boxes on the fence posts. The Raritan Headwaters Association has added a monitoring station at South Branch Preserve for ongoing, water quality testing at the Restoration Site.
Trail: The Land Conservancy received a grant through the Recreational Trails Program to develop a trail on the property which winds its way through the native forest restoration site providing an intimate opportunity for visitors to access the property, enjoy the river, and learn about the innovative work done at the property.
Wildflower and Butterfly Meadow: The remaining four farm fields, which form the balance of the riparian watershed lands of the South Branch at this site, are being converted to butterfly meadows. Archewild, experts in butterfly and meadow management, will work with The Land Conservancy to restore the fields (totaling 31 acres), remove invasive plant species, and replant with wildflower seeds to support the reestablishment of the monarch butterfly population which is in danger of being lost. A trail will be constructed through the meadow and interpretive materials will be developed.
Partners for Parks is an award-winning corporate volunteer program that addresses the growing need for open space stewardship in our communities by providing corporations and civic groups with an opportunity to learn and apply stewardship principles. These projects not only work to enhance the condition of open space but also act as positive team building experiences that promote communication and teamwork among corporate and civic volunteers.
The Partners for Parks program was awarded Take Pride in America National Award from the US Department of the Interior and the NJ Governor’s Volunteer Award for Volunteer Management.
If you would like more information on participating on a project or if you are interested in learning more about becoming a sponsor, please contact Barbara McCloskey at email@example.com or 973 541-1010 x14.
Partners for Parks is made possible in part by the generous support of our Corporate Sponsors. Our Corporate Sponsors for 2015 include: BASF, The Daily Record, Investors Bank, Merck, Novartis, PSEG, and Round Table Services.