D&R Greenway Land Trust
Announces Launch of Innovative Climate Project
with Soil Carbon Partners at
St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 7, 2021
D&R Greenway Land Trust is joining with its newest partner in preservation, Soil Carbon Partners(SCP), to launch the exciting, innovative CLIMATE PROJECT AT ST. MICHAELS FARM PRESERVE, in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. Beginning mid-April, this innovative project combines organic agriculture with soil improvements to test whether they will significantly enhance nutritional content of food while sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change. The SCP team will add a special mix of naturally occurring minerals, organic matter and beneficial soil microbes to 60 acres of farm fields on St. Michaels Farm, replicating the healthy ecosystem that nourished bison on Western prairies. Native grasses and forage crops will nourish a small herd of fully grass-fed cattle, enhancing the bucolic nature of the D&R Greenway preserve.
“We know that natural pasture-based grazing systems historically sequestered hundreds of billions of tons of atmospheric carbon in soil throughout the great Plains of the U.S., Canada and other countries,” said Ed Huling of Soil Carbon Partners. “Our regenerative farming system is modeled upon these natural grazing models to help address the climate crises threatening us all.”
Independent scientists from Princeton University and other climate-focused institutions will rigorously measure the health of soil, grasses and cattle. The farming methods used by SCP are expected to increase plant growth and photosynthesis, in turn increasing the amount of carbon that plants extract from the air and transfer to the soil as stored, or sequestered carbon. Sequestering carbon in farmland is increasingly being recognized as a key strategy in slowing temperature-rise and climate change.
Peter Dawson, Chair of the Board of Trustees of D&R Greenway, asserts, “This research project shows our commitment to endorsing regenerative agricultural practices that are both good business practice and protective of the environment. Throughout, we will continue to ensure community access and enjoyment of the St. Michaels Farm Preserve’s trails and gardens.”
During the Climate Project, St. Michaels Farm Preserve trails will remain open. As ever, people will continue to connect with nature, enjoying expansive views over the town of Hopewell, and winding among its fields and woods. Bird-watching, trail walking and community Sharing Gardens, expanded in 2021, will continue as favorite past-times on the preserve. Double Brook Farm will continue as an important community partner, farming the fields above the popular Charles Evans Overlook. As always, for safety’s sake, hikers are asked not to open gates or enter any gated farm fields, and to refrain from petting or feeding the animals, while enjoying them from a distance.
The research project will begin on or around April 15. There will be no noticeable disturbances from this project with the exception of occasional truck deliveries of organic and all-natural components of the soil nutrition blend within the first few weeks.
The organizations involved share similar values: D&R Greenway’s mission is to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic. Soil Carbon Partners is committed to mitigating climate change, focusing upon regenerative organic farming. This project is funded by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, renowned for investing in innovative climate-mitigation research.
Scientific advisors on the project include Dr. Eric Bishop Von Wettberg, Gund Fellow, Associate Professor of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont and Dr. Daniel Rubenstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.
Founder of Soil Carbon Partners, Ed Huling, is known for decades of innovative projects in farming and protecting the environment . An organic farmer for twenty years, he has sold his heirloom tomatoes, kale, melons and microgreens since 2002 to Whole Foods and other mid-Atlantic supermarkets. Huling’s produce is known for flavor and quality. Prior to farming, in 1983, Huling’s innovative housing was determined to be the most energy-efficient in the United States by Princeton University environmental scientists, published in The Annual Review of Energy. Clark Bunting, CEO of Soil Carbon Partners, served most recently as CEO and President of the National Parks Conservation Association. Bunting previously had been President of the Discovery Channel, and founding President of the Animal Planet Network. Bodhi Williams, an innovative entrepreneur, artist and builder will be Vice President of Farm Operations, and will work closely with D&R Greenway’s farm manager, William Flemer, IV, to ensure that farm practices are coordinated with the public uses of this preserved farm.
Linda Mead, President and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust, is enthusiastic about the project’s potential, “From the beginning, St. Michaels Farm Preserve has been a model of grassroots-led preservation. We are intrigued to partner on this innovative research project that could make a substantial difference on the country’s approach to climate change. Lessons learned and techniques proven on our St. Michaels Farm Preserve could be a model that can be replicated across the country by farmers and land trusts. Over time, our local effort could result in national, even global impacts.”
D&R Greenway will provide ongoing email updates, and an informational online webinar where SCP’s founder will share more about their farming system. Educational messages for the community will provide progress reports on this breakthrough research project. For updates, follow us on social media (Facebook and Instagram) and sign up for our eNews here.
D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, has saved over 21,000 acres of New Jersey land since its 1989 founding. Preserving land for life and creating public trails grants everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and Sharing Gardens provide local organic food for neighbors—including those in need. D&R Greenway’s strategic land conservation and stewardship combat climate change, protect wildlife, and ensures clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway’s mission is connecting land with people from all walks of life. D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, home to its art galleries in Princeton, is currently closed to ensure health and safety due to COVID.
Our outdoor trails and labyrinth are open. Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages and www.drgreenway.org to learn about the organization’s latest news and virtual programs. D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton NJ 08540.
We now share 315 stories of preservation and 21,196 protected acres that end with cleaner air, more drinkable water, and forever natural landscapes we are proud to call home. Enabling us to accomplish these tasks is a community of people – like you – who care.
We are grateful for your ongoing investment in our future and thank you for caring about our mission to preserve and care for land. If possible, please consider a year-end donation to help us do more of this work that creates a healthy landscape, local food, wellbeing and beauty.
Your enthusiastic contributions are needed more than ever… Thank You!
The Climate Project at
St. Michaels Farm Preserve
Frequently Asked Questions
D&R Greenway has joined with Soil Carbon Partners to farm 60 acres of the land trust’s 415-acre St. Michaels Farm Preserve.
This innovative project combines regenerative organic agriculture with soil improvements with a goal of increasing nutritional content of food produced on the farm, while sequestering increased levels of carbon to mitigate climate change. The SCP team will add a special mix of naturally occurring minerals, organic matter and beneficial soil microbes to 60 acres of farm fields, replicating the healthy ecosystem that nourished buffalo on Western prairies.
Will this change anything about where on the farm people can take walks or ride bikes?
Trails will remain open to walkers as usual. A short segment of mowed trail that cuts across the field around the community gardenwill be re-routed: walkers who used the short mowed trail may walk through the garden gates, following all garden rules, or follow the main trail which remains exactly as it has been.
In the first several weeks, there may be an hour or so when a truck is delivering soil materials; walkers will need to be careful using the main trail for a short segment near the barn. After this initial period, this will not occur again.
Over time, cattle will be moved field-to-field. On occasion, but not frequently, this may require that walkers wait for the cattle to pass, or that they route around the cattle. Otherwise, cattle will be seen in the fields from a distance.
What will be different?
The farm will remain a bucolic farm landscape and nothing will be different, other than the re-addition of cattle in some of the fields. In the beginning years, a decade ago, DoubleBrook Farm kept cattle in the fields along with sheep. Walkers will be able to enjoy seeing farm animals from the trails, and native grasses will also be grown and hayed on the farm.
When will delivery of organic soil materials be arriving at the farm?
Soil materials will be delivered in the first 2-3 weeks of the project, and should be completed by early May at the latest. Trucks will deliver ingredients at various times of the day. We expect there to be only 2 to 4 trucks per day making deliveries, mostly during weekdays. Most people walking on the farm won’t even see them.
How will the organic fertilizer be applied to the soil?
It will only be applied once – it will be spread throughout the fields that Soil Carbon Partners is leasing. Itwill only take a few days to spread it around the 60 acres.
Does the organic soil enhancement/fertilizer give off any odors?
No – there will be no odors in contrast to traditional farm fields that use manure, which will not be used on St. Michaels Farm.
If I walk my dog at St. Michaels Farm Preserve, will this in any way harm my pet?
No, there will be no harm to humans or animals from the soil materials and field farming. As always, we ask that all pet owners keep their dogs on leash, and use common sense in keeping them away from other animals – both the cattle on the farm, and other pets on the trails.
Remember, too, that humans can be fearful of pets, so please control yours.
Will there be an opportunity to take educational tours of the farm?
Once plants are growing, in June for example, we plan to conduct a tour or two with the Founder of Soil Carbon Partners, Ed Huling.
Are you planning a webinar or Zoom event where Soil Carbon Partners will describe the project in more detail and answer questions?
Yes, we are planning this event, although we have not finalized the timing yet. We will be sure to communicate the date on D&R Greenway’s website, www.drgreenway.org, on social media and in local news sources, and in our email updates – sign up for our eNews here.
What will happen to the St. Michaels Farm Sharing Gardens?
D&R Greenway’s popular St. Michaels Farm Sharing Gardens will remain the same. In their second year, 2021, they are being expanded; a large plot has been set aside to grow food to pay it forward by celebrating the bounty of the land with local donations of healthy produce.
Will the birding community be able to continue to observe our unique species of birds?
Yes! And, grassland birds will be protected from farm activity during their breeding season. D&R Greenway works with citizen scientists to determine the locations most important for grassland birds.
Aren’t cattle known to release methane gas into the atmosphere?
Answer:Cattle in feedlots are fed corn and soybeans that they did not evolve eating since they are naturally grass-eating herbivores. This creates many issues. Cattle at St. Michaels Farm will be fully grass-fed. Importantly, the positive climate impact of properly grazed animals helping sequester tons of carbon dwarfs the negative impact of the comparatively small amounts of methane on our farm.
Testing by independent scientists will measure results in soil carbon sequestration generated by the farming techniques. Scientific advisors on the project include Dr. Eric Bishop Von Wettberg, Gund Fellow, Associate Professor of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont and Dr. Daniel Rubenstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.
Why did D&R Greenway choose to lease these farm fields to Soil Carbon Partners?
This research project shows our commitment to endorsing regenerative agricultural practices that are both good business practice and protective of the environment. D&R Greenway and Soil Carbon Partners share similar values: D&R Greenway’s mission is to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic. Soil Carbon Partners is committed to helping mitigate climate change, focusing upon regenerative organic farming.
Local partner Double Brook Farm will continue as an important community partner, farming the fields above the popular Charles Evans Overlook and a field on Aunt Molly Road.