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 EPA noted, “Each year, EPA searches for those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health. 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 email@example.com.
The Land Conservancy hired a local farmer to grow vegetables using river-friendly, organic farming practices, on four of the eight fields. A priority for The Land Conservancy is that a portion of all produce grown on these fields be donated back to the community to help people who are unable to afford fresh, local produce.
We have formed a partnership with the Drakestown Methodist Church to donate the produce to their local food pantry, which provides food and supplies to residents, regardless of religious affiliation. The Church has been a member of the Community Garden and, in 2014, over 250 pounds of produce was donated by our gardeners to the Food Pantry.
A deer exclosure fence has been erected enclosing 28 acres. The shed, well and irrigation system will be installed prior to the start of the growing season.
Native Forest Restoration:
A 6,600 foot deer exclosure fence was erected enclosing 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.