South Branch Preserve Farm
In 2018 we partnered with City Green, a nonprofit that offers equitable access to healthy food while promoting environmental stewardship and ecologically sustainable
communities. City Green has been farming organically on 12 acres of our 29-acre farm at South Branch Preserve ever since. In 2020 they produced 44,000 pounds of tasty, nutrient-dense organic food for those who can use it most. Coming soon in 2021 is a kid-friendly veggie trail along the perimeter of the farm.
West Brook Stream Restoration
The West Brook is a major source of clean water for the Wanaque Reservoir, which 2 million New Jersey residents rely on for drinking. In 2020 we completed a major restoration that redirected the brook back into its original stream bed and reflooded the wetlands. Ultimately more water will flow into the reservoir during dry periods, erosion will be reduced, native plant species will flourish, and it will once again become a healthy habitat for the imperiled eastern brook trout.
Reviving the American Chestnut
American chestnut trees were plentiful and useful to humans and wildlife alike, until a blight fungus killed them off more than a century ago. Today, TLCNJ is part of a multifaceted approach to bringing back the American chestnut--planting trees with Antinanco at South Branch, working with Rutgers to study mycological solutions using mature trees on our property in Mahwah, and making sure all of the chestnut trees in our care remain healthy.
Our Stewardship Team has established trails through South Branch, South Branch South, and the Nancy Conger West Brook preserves. These routes lead visitors on a journey through the different environmental features and habitats in each landscape. You may find a stream, or a bird blind, or a grove of pawpaw trees. Some trails feature QR codes that teach you about the flora and fauna you encounter.
We’ve teamed up with Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary to use goats and sheep as an anti-invasives team to control the mile-a-minute weed, bittersweet, and other shrubs that are taking over parts of the South Branch Preserve. The animals graze on one-acre sections of land within a solar electric fence that is moved once they have eaten all the invasive plants. The Chew Crew stays for the summer, and then in the fall we plant native grasses and wildflowers where the invasives used to be.
In an effort to nourish dwindling native pollinator populations like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, we have planted 8,000 trees and shrubs on 37 acres of former cornfields at South Branch Preserve, restoring these to native forest and providing a buffer for three-quarters of a mile of the South Branch of the Raritan River. The nearby butterfly meadow is sown every year with milkweed and wildflower seeds that we have saved in order to attract and support monarch butterflies, with the hope that in years to come the meadow will be self-sustaining.
We have been working with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for years. Many of the improvements on our properties are made by hard-working young people who want to do good in their communities. The QR codes on the nature trails, birdhouses, blueberry bushes, horseshoe pit, and land art at South Branch Preserve are all excellent examples. Our preserves are better because of them.