As a member of the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), the Johnson & Johnson Skillman, NJ campus has become the first corporate site in the state to participate in New Jersey Audubon’s “Jersey Grown” S.A.V.E.TM (Support Agricultural Viability and the Environment) initiative, by growing black-oil sunflowers on site. The S.A.V.E.TM initiative, which promotes the production of agricultural products that are economically and ecologically sustainable, earned a 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation.
The sunflowers grown at the Johnson & Johnson site will be harvested for birdseed that will be sold through the New Jersey Audubon S.A.V.E.TM brand label and are certified “Jersey Grown” sunflower birdseed. The program benefits New Jersey’s agricultural community and the environment, because it is grown locally thereby eliminating the need for extensive use of fossil fuels in transit, thus reducing its carbon footprint. Additionally the initiative 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 which for every 5 acres planted in sunflowers, New Jersey Audubon manages and maintains 1-acre of early successional habitat for threatened and endangered species.
"We are so excited to have Johnson & Johnson and Frank Drift of Dutchtown Nurseries be a part of this innovative program," said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJ Audubon-North Region. "It is the first time a CSC member has been able to combine conservation objectives with agricultural viability on their own campus.”
With the S.A.V.E.TM initiative underway at Johnson & Johnson, the company and NJA have entered a 10-year agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to implement a habitat restoration project at the Skillman, NJ facility. This agreement is through the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, which has tailored the project to the site’s geography. Specifically, the site is a prime location for restoring early successional habitat, such as native grasslands, scrub-shrub fields, and pollinator meadows, along with emergent wetlands enhancements.
This habitat restoration will benefit numerous migratory bird species such as: American woodcock, field sparrow, willow flycatcher, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler, indigo bunting, as well as state-listed species such as bobolink, American kestrel and eastern meadowlark. Additionally many bird nest boxes will be erected on the site as part of the habitat enhancement.
"It is the location of the Johnson & Johnson site in the Central Piedmont Plains, (a unique region of New Jersey rich in both a broad diversity of wildlife and natural habitat), which makes this project even more special!” said Parke. “We commend Johnson & Johnson’s outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations while promoting biodiversity and local agriculture for the community at large."
“Through their interest in good corporate land stewardship, Johnson and Johnson is helping water quality, providing habitat to pollinators, and providing nesting and foraging opportunities for a variety of migratory birds that have vulnerable populations.” said Brian Marsh, Private Land Biologist with USFWS. “Being dedicated to relatively simple measures, such as converting mowed lawn immediately around ponds to buffers of unmowed grasses and native shrubs, can make a big difference to wildlife and water quality by attracting a variety of songbirds while making the area less attractive to Canada geese.” added Marsh.
“Johnson & Johnson is honored to be part of NJ Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council and the S.A.V.E™ initiative in partnership with NJ Audubon and USFWS,” said Brain K. Boyd, Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Worldwide Environment, Health & Safety. “Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of families everywhere. To fulfill this goal, we must protect the environments in which we work and live, as a healthy planet and a healthy community go hand in hand. This is an excellent opportunity to preserve the region’s beauty, resources and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.”