Ethos Farm Partners with N.J. Audubon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Restore Native Species and Make Humans and the Landscape Healthier

fritillary on bonesetStarting on Earth Day, Ethos Farm, believed to be the first farm in the nation which is home to a primary care medical practice will embark on a large-scale habitat restoration program. Forty acres of the 275-year-old preserved working farm are to be restored using native plants that will provide critical habitat for birds, pollinators and other native wildlife.

Farm owner and board certified internist, Dr. Ron Weiss, is the founder of Ethos Health which joins sustainable agriculture practices and natural resource conservation to his primary care practice to create a healthcare environment optimized to reverse and prevent illness. The practice offers farm-based mindful living health programs and focuses on utilizing plant-based whole foods which according to Weiss, are the most powerful disease-modifying tools available to the medical practitioner.

Ethos Health’s patients and the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members will take part in the restoration efforts, that are supported jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey Audubon and the US Department of Agriculture. The restoration work underscores Dr. Weiss’ core belief that it is crucial to know where your food comes from, linking the food to the land. “This link creates better educational opportunities for the public to recognize how conservation efforts play into protecting the natural resources (like soil, water, wildlife) on a regional scale, as well as food systems and their impact on our heath and even the taste of our food,” said Weiss.

highbush blueberry flowers“What many people overlook or take for granted when they buy food, cook food, or even pick food from either their gardens in their own yard or in nature is what goes into having the plant produce,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJ Audubon. “Food doesn't just show up, it is grown, thus you need good soil, you need clean water, you need places for it to grow, you need pollinators, you need soil microbes, you need wildlife, you need to keep invasive non-native vegetation in check,” added Parke. “But unless you perform conservation on the land and practice natural resource protection and steward these habitats, these essential building blocks of our food system break down and have a direct impact on food availability, as well as keeping ecological balance in the landscape. Sustainable management of natural resources is essential to make food systems sustainable and that’s what Dr. Weiss and Ethos Health are doing and NJ Audubon commends Ethos Heath for the efforts and commitment to the project!”

Ethos Health initiated the project in 2013 with the removal of acres of non-native invasive vegetationHighbush blueberry species such as multiflora rose, autumn olive and Japanese honeysuckle. Now these areas will be planted with native species such as elderberry, high-bush blueberry, willows, dogwoods, oaks, and others that will provide numerous ecological benefits to the landscape. “Restoring important natural ecosystems on the 342 acre farm’s forests, wetlands, former pastures and production fields, has a profound effect on our landscapes, our health, our wildlife and the communities where we live,” added Weiss. “And how we care for our landscape through conservation is the key to a meaningful, healthy, and enjoyable existence.”

The project is being partially funded through several federal agencies, specifically the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the USDA’ State Acres for Wildlife Program. New Jersey Audubon is providing technical assistance for the project, as well as their no-till seeding drill and some labor.

photos by John Parke