D&R Greenway Land Trust is joining with its newest partner in preservation, Soil Carbon Partners (SCP), to launch “The Climate Project at St. Michael’s Farm” in Hopewell Township. Beginning mid-April, this innovative project will combine 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 buffalo 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 US, 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 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, — whose family business was Princeton Nurseries — 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. To sign up for emails and stay informed, visit www.drgreenway.org.
Submitted by D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, which 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 community 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
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