Other than the trees, not much stands still these days at The Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s 309-acre South Branch Preserve in Mount Olive Township. It is becoming an ecological microcosm of organic fields, community gardens, trails, forest restoration, butterfly meadows and the gently flowing waters of the South Branch of the Raritan River, which is a source of drinking water for more than 1.5 million New Jersey residents. It is also becoming a place for people to go not only to enjoy nature but also to be educated about how to reclaim land and protect a watershed.
Two of the latest additions to the Preserve are designed to invite people in: a kiosk and a picnic bench. The kiosk, built by Boy Scout Joe Harmon as his Eagle Scout project, stands near the parking lot for the North Section of the Preserve, off Wolfe Road near the intersection with Route 46. The kiosk displays trail maps and other information about the Preserve. Nearby, just off the main path between the parking lot and the community garden (now in its fourth season) is a newly created picnic area, where visitors can relax at a picnic table beneath the shade of a huge sugar maple tree.
Across Wolfe Road from the parking lot and community garden, local beekeeper Ingrid O’Connor has set up hives. The bees will help pollinate the vegetables & flowers in the community garden as well as at The Farm and other fields in the area.
The South Branch Preserve’s North Section is located on Wolfe Road in Mount Olive Township, near the intersection with Route 46. To learn more, visit www.tlc-nj.org