New Jersey Audubon’s “Jersey Grown” S.A.V.E.TM Initiative Earns 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation

December 2011 – The New Jersey Audubon Society’s “Jersey Grown” S.A.V.E.TM Support Agricultural Viability and the Environment) initiative promoting the production of agricultural products that are economically and ecologically sustainable, has earned a 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award.gov award

The program was chosen from among numerous entries for the Land Conservation Award, which requires that the selected applicant demonstrate a commitment to and experience in the preservation of open space that protects land from future development.

“This initiative extended across all departments here at NJA and I’d like to personally acknowledge and thank everyone for their great work with S.A.V.E. TM Together with our partners and supporters, we’re investing in local economies, preserving agricultural landscapes, reducing the carbon footprint, and growing endangered species,” said Tom Gilmore, President of New Jersey Audubon.

“Jersey Grown” sunflower birdseed – the first product marketed under New Jersey Audubon’s S.A.V.E.TM brand – is now in its fourth year, and has continually grown in scope during its tenure. 260 acres of sunflowers seeds were planted this season – almost double the 140 acres planted last year. The state Department of Agriculture has been instrumental in the growth of the S.A.V.E. TM project, approving the use of the “Jersey Grown” label on birdseed and designating a new label, ‘Made with Jersey Grown Wood,’ for related S.A.V.E. TM birdfeeder and bird house products.

PC090027Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher congratulated the NJA ,stating, “The Department of Agriculture is pleased to have participated at so many levels with this initiative and looks forward to continued partnering to further the interests of agriculture and the environment for all New Jersey residents.”

The sunflowers, from which the birdseed is being harvested, have been planted by New Jersey farmers who are cooperating with New Jersey Audubon to produce the certified “Jersey Grown” sunflower birdseed. The growth in sunflower acres planted for harvesting by 120 acres illustrates the seed’s significance to the farmers’ revenue stream, as it provides direct access to a local niche market for a crop that offers them a greater price per acre than traditional grain crops, most notably corn and soybeans. However, it is equally, if not more, significant to the birds and New Jersey Audubon’s conservation mission. For every 5 acres planted for birdseed, New Jersey Audubon manages and maintains 1-acre of grassland habitat for threatened and endangered birds.

New Jersey Audubon has seen strong benefits to grasslands it is managing as part of the project at the South Branch Wildlife Management Area in Raritan and Hillsborough Townships. State-listed species such as Eastern Meadowlark, meadowlarkAmerican Kestrel, Bobolinks and Grasshopper Sparrows have all been recorded onsite using the restoration fields.

The S.A.VE. TM program’s innovative partnerships are evident in the work with the agricultural community and commercial seed retailers, as well as in other key supporters of the program. The project benefitted from the early support and vision of Gurdon and Kathy Wattles, as well as won a competitive Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“NRCS is proud to have provided support to this initiative through the CIG program,” said State Conservationist Donald J. Pettit of NRCS. “The SAVE initiative combines conservation objectives with agricultural viability and clearly meets the goal of our grant program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches.”

The program benefits consumers due to the growth in the availability of the green, sustainable sunflower birdseed that further benefits New Jersey’s agricultural community and the environment. Because it is grown locally, S.A.V.E. TM birdseed eliminates the need for extensive use of fossil fuels in transit, thus reducing its carbon footprint.

Jean Lynch, Southern Stewardship Project Director for New Jersey Audubon and coordinator of the S.A.V.E. TM program, stated,. “This recognition is a tribute to everyone who has worked on the S.A.V.E. TM program and to our many supporters. It will help us build momentum as we continue to strengthen and expand the program.”

“I cannot thank the farmers that participated in S.A.V.E. TM  enough for their help, guidance, insight, and most of all, their commitment and participation in the project for making it a great model for finding common ground with agricultural producers and the conservation community!” said John Parke, Northern Stewardship Project Director for New Jersey Audubon and recent graduate of the New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program.  “It is this type of innovative, progressive  open-mindedness that these farmers demonstrate that will keep farming and natural resource protection sustainable in the New Jersey landscape.” Parke added.  “Working with the farmers, in particular, current S.A.V.E. TM farmers Mark Kirby, Jim Laine, Tom Zeng, Brant Gibbs, Raj Sinha, Jeff Angel, Buddy Shimp, as well as previous S.A.V.E. TM farmers Rodger Woolf and Phil Brodhecker, on this project that has really helped us have a greater understanding on how certain conservation initiatives can impact NJ agriculture and we now have a better focus on how we can better recognize the connections between all types of farming while still preserving the integrity of natural ecosystems in New Jersey.”

New Jersey Audubon would like to additionally thank the following people and entities (not named above) for their help, guidance, participation and support in the S.A.V.E. TM initiative: The fine staff at NRCS, especially Tim Dunne and Janice Reid, the NJ Jersey Department of Agriculture, especially Sec. Douglas Fisher and the excellent staff at the Jersey Fresh/Jersey Grown Program, the MBA Team Consulting Program at the Rutgers School of Business, New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hunterdon County Parks Department, Conservation Resources Inc. and Duke Farms, the King/Wesley Family Charitable Trust, Suasion Communications Group, all those who attended the 2011 S.A.V.E. Event at Restaurant Daniel NYC, Union Green, Ms. Judith Bland, the Citizen Science Program and it's wonderful volunteers, the membership of NJ Audubon and the retailers and general public that supported the initiative by purchasing this locally grown product to benefit NJ agriculture and wildlife; and the Staff of New Jersey Audubon, especially Troy Ettel!

 

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New Jersey Audubon’s award-winning Jersey Grown S.A.V.E. TM sunflower birdseed is readily available and being sold in 10- and 20-pound bags this season for easy transport from store to home. For pricing, please check with the NJ Audubon Center or S.A.V.E. TM birdseed retailer nearest you.

For more information about participating NJ Audubon Centers, retailers and farmers or to place an online order for S.A.V.E. TM Birdseed, please visit www.njaudubon.org