Stewardship Blog

Fall Foraging - Engaging Nature’s Bounty

New Jersey Audubon embraces the concept of sustainable foraging because it is an excellent way for people to engage nature and learn about the importance of natural resource protection, habitat and agriculture, and it’s a healthy activity that can taste great too!

Knowing where your food comes from, linking the food to the land, creates better educational opportunities and allows us to recognize the role conservation plays in protecting natural resources (e.g., soil, water, wildlife) on a regional scale.

Where our food comes from and how it is grown, whether on a farm or wild in nature, has a profound effect on our landscapes, our health, our wildlife and the communities where we live. How we care for our environment and the landscape it exists within is the key to a meaningful, healthy, and enjoyable existence.

What many people overlook, or take for granted - when they buy, cook, or even pick food from either their gardens or in nature -is what goes into the production of the plant and its fruits. Meaning, food doesn't just show up -it is grown. To grow, plants need good soil, clean water, suitable places to grow, pollinators, soil microbes, wildlife (such as birds and other animals dispersing seeds), and the plants can’t be out competed by invasive non-native vegetation or eaten by deer. Unless you undertake conservation measures and practice natural resource protection many of the essential building blocks necessary for food production break down, ecological balance will be broken. Sustainable management of natural resources is essential to make food systems sustainable. Sustainable management of natural resources is what NJ Audubon undertakes through our conservation initiatives.

Some may think that NJ Audubon is just a bird watching organization - not true – NJ Audubon is a conservation organization! While our roots stem from advocacy on behalf of birds, and while we certainly have a deep appreciation for and commitment to bird watching, the organization’s mission extends to all native wildlife, plants and their habitats. In particular we are especially focused on those species and systems that are rare or declining. Our work helps conserve the environment, protect natural recourses and restore critical habitat for the benefits of wildlife and people.

019_thumb1020_thumb1REMEMBER:  The main rule of foraging is: Never, ever eat a spice-bush_thumb1wild plant without being POSITIVE about its identification.

Renowned Forger and Author of Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer's Market, Tama Matsuoka Wong see here (On LEFT), harvests chestnuts from a non-native Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima) tree at NJ Audubon Wattles Stewardship Center.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoic) (On RIGHT). Spicebush leaves and fruit are often foraged in the fall. But did you know that over 20 species of birds feed on the small, brilliant red fruits formed on female plants. These berries are one of the best sources of energy for long distance migratory birds.  Also the larva (caterpillar) of the Spicebush and Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies feeds on the leaves.

NJA Holds Annual Corporate Stewardship Council Meeting in Trenton

It has been another highly successful year for the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) that has seen habitat restoration projects benefiting wildlife species all over the State.  On September 13, 2013 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hosted the CSC’s annual meeting at their offices in Trenton.   Filling in for NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, was Acting Deputy Commissioner Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., who applauded members of the Council for their commitment to ecological sustainability and praised the importance of the CSC initiative that affords NJA_CSC_logo_vert_CMYK BLUE BROWN CREAMthe private sector an opportunity to take leadership roles in conservation stewardship.

The meeting was presided over by Co-Chairmen, Mr. Ralph LaRossa, President of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and Mr. Keith Campbell, Chairman of the Board of Mannington Mills, Inc.  Mr. Campbell recently accepted the position of CSC Co-Chairman after the retirement of former Co-Chair Mr. Dennis Bone in 2012.  Headquartered in Salem, New Jersey, and founded in 1915 by his great grandfather John Boston Campbell, Mannington Mills is now one of the largest flooring manufacturers in the world.  It is also the only North American-based company engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of residential and commercial resilient, laminate, hardwood and porcelain tile floors, as well as commercial carpet and rubber.  Mannington Mills is also recipient of two Governors Environmental Excellence Awards and is a recognized leader of sustainable practices.

The CSC also recognized and expressed our sincere thanks to former CSC Co-Chairman, Mr. Dennis Bone.  In 2012, Mr. Bone retired as President of Verizon's New Jersey area and had presided over the CSC as Co-Chairman since its inception in 2007.   New Jersey Audubon is grateful for his willingness to co-chair the CSC at its beginning stages and provide leadership over the years to assure its success. Mr. Bone’s tenure as CSC Co-chair brought with it great growth, on-the ground conservation, and recognition of CSC members and NJ Audubon.  Below is just a snap-shot of CSC achievements under Mr. Bone’s tenure:

· Since its inception, the CSC has increased its membership from 11 to 18 members.

· Since its inspection a total of 22 projects encompassing over 420 acres have been completed.

P6280016· Within those 22 projects, habitat for 21 different NJ listed species (Threatened or Endangered Species) are being managed for. (This does not include State Species of Special Concern with which there are many that occur on these project sites)

· Several projects that had also involved nest box installations and monitoring have fledged over 3,360 new birds (combination of purple martin, tree swallow, American kestrel and eastern bluebird).

· Two CSC projects (Verizon and Mannington Mills) have won the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award in the Healthy Ecosystem and Healthy and Sustainable Businesses categories, respectively.

· One CSC project, New Jersey American Water, has won the New Jersey Business and Industry Environmental Quality Award.

To see current summary information regarding individual CSC Member Projects go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Portals/10/Conservation/PDF/2013CSCBrochure.pdf