Representatives from NJM Insurance Group (NJM) joined D&R Greenway Vice Chair Adrian Huns and D&R Greenway staff to spruce up the gardens at Point Breeze in Bordentown in honor of Earth Day.
The teams worked collaboratively on April 22 on a spring cleanup that involved weeding, mulching and preparing garden beds surrounding the historic Gardener’s House that remains from the Joseph Bonaparte estate, now owned by D&R Greenway Land Trust, according to information provided by D&R.
The historic site was permanently preserved by D&R Greenway in 2020 in partnership with the City of Bordentown and the NJ Green Acres Program. The Land Trust owns an acre of ground surrounded by 60 acres that are jointly managed with the State of New Jersey and the city.
To support archeological and ecological studies, as well as trail work on the property, NJM is making a $15,000 contribution to D&R Greenway. NJM has been one of D&R Greenway’s Business Partners in Preservation since 2019.
“This was a great hands-on volunteer experience in celebration of Earth Day,” Jeff Richardson, NJM’s Community Outreach & Events coordinator, said in the statement. “Supporting the communities we are privileged to serve is a core value at NJM. Through our volunteer work and financial commitment, we are pleased to support the environmental stewardship of D&R Greenway at the historic Point Breeze site.”
Among the highlights for volunteers was working with D&R Greenway’s Garden Steward to lay the groundwork for future vegetable gardens. In keeping with the historic use of the site, the land trust will establish vegetable gardens this year in the location where artichokes, beans, herbs and other vegetables were grown to feed Bonaparte and his guests who represented scientific, political, and artistic communities of the day. After staking out new garden plots, NJM volunteers were invited for a special tour of the Gardener’s House renovations that are nearing completion.
The historic house will be transformed into The Point Breeze Discovery Center.
“We have been working throughout the winter to renovate the historic structure, create exhibits and plan the gardens,” D&R Greenway’s President and CEO Linda Mead said in the statement. “It is the generosity of our business partners, supporters, and local residents that enables us the opportunity to tell the many cultural stories that have connected people to the land over eons, here in Bordentown City.”
The interactive Discovery Center will feature exhibits that explore the history of the property and the people who cared for it, from the Lenape peoples’ ancestral and continuing connection to the land to Joseph Bonaparte’s lavish estate, from millionaire Harris Hammond to the missionaries of Divine Word, and into perpetuity as a permanently preserved slice of local history, according to the statement.
Exhibits will also highlight the vibrant local ecology of the adjacent Abbott Marshlands and the Delaware River, including artistic renderings of the historical and ecological “jewels of Point Breeze” painted by local plein air artists.
The center is set to open in 2023.