SOLUTIONS 7/9: The D&R Greenway Land Trust – Environmental Leader

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A watercolor painting of Capital City Farm by artist James Fiorentino, a member of D&R Greenway's Board of Trustees.
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Bright flowers and signage greet visitors to Capital City Farm in Trenton.
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A watercolor painting of Capital City Farm by artist James Fiorentino, a member of D&R Greenway's Board of Trustees.
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Bright flowers and signage greet visitors to Capital City Farm in Trenton.

The D&R Greenway Land Trust, the region’s unofficial land steward reaching in many directions to preserve and enhance our environments, has recently launched two new important projects.

But first, the D&R, a nonprofit, environmental leader since 1989, has been instrumental in saving local woods and fields, farms and community gardens, and establishing trails for people to explore and enjoy nature. In addition to preserving land, the D&R’s efforts have helped address climate change, protect wildlife, and maintain clean water. Its Johnson Education Center has, before the virus, offered lectures and an art gallery to help the public learn of and view nature.

Now recently, the D&R, along with Soil Carbon Partners (SCP) announced the successful completion of the first phase of their Carbon-Sequestration Process at the land trust’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell. SCP’s special mix of soil fertilizer, an organic blend of minerals and microbes, was spread on a 50-acre field. Shortly after planting, production was found to be twice that of grasses grown in control areas, and has been increasing since the first test results. T

hree independent researchers, including Daniel Rubinstein, Ph.D., of Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will focus research on the impact of this system on farm animals  and compare them with control areas not treated with SCP’s natural mix. With the first phase of the project now complete, the goal is to increase productivity exponentially to expand the ability of the plants to sequester and store carbon from the atmosphere.

If successful, the science will demonstrate how agriculture can be managed to diminish catastrophic climate change.

Cattle nourished on SCP’s fertilized forage grasses, fed by nutrient and mineral-rich soil, are expected to produce significantly less methane than is typical today. This summer, SCP will bring a small herd of cattle to selected fields, replicating the natural grass processes on Western prairies long ago.

Seven years ago, the idea of an urban farm was begun in an abandoned lot near the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. This June, the D&R joined with the City of Trenton to transfer the management of the Capital City Farm to Mercer County. Where the 2-acre Capital City Farm had been a dumping ground, D&R had the vision and capability to transform the site into a community farm, producing fresh food and flowers, accomplished by raising almost $500,000 through grants and donations.

Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton thanked the D&R for its efforts and support “in taking the lead to establish, fund, operate and maintain the Capital City Farm” and by doing so provide the city and neighborhood with an open space of beauty, which produces “fresh, healthy food, educational opportunities and other community benefits.”

The D&R Greenway Land Trust is to be congratulated for its important vision of what our environments and urban neighborhoods need and its ability to realize those visions through research, planning, funding, and cooperation.