Stewardship Blog

Category: Jersey Grown S.A.V.E. Updates

Jersey Grown Product Updates

Statewide Bee Species Survey Comes to NJ Audubon S.A.V.E.™ Sunflower and Restoration Fields

In September Databasing Assistant, Hadel Go, of the American Museum of Natural History - Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Slide1visited several NJ Audubon sanctuaries and the nyjer thistle and S.A.V.E.™ sunflower fields of the Liberty Farm of Sandyston, NJ and the Roseline’s Farm & Bakery in Augusta, NJ to survey for bee species.

According to Ms. Go, "The goal of this survey is to comb through NJ and collect bees to supplement the museum and university collections, which comprise the bulk of our data, for our Bees of NJ Checklist.  Some specimens from these collections are over a hundred years old; we want to make sure to include all the species that exist in the state today.  There are nonnative species creeping in and areas that have not been sampled including several NJ Audubon sites."  Currently there is no official reference list for the bees of New Jersey.

Although all bee species are being identified during the survey, it is the wild bees that are of special interest.  Wild bees refers to a very large and diverse group that excludes honeybees.  There are around 20,000 species of bees in the world and North America is home to some 3,500 species.  "The Bees of NJ Checklist so far includes over 300 species," said Ms. Go.

Ms. Go's survey has collected a wide variety of bees, including two NJ state records and some that are not common for this region. "It was exciting to learn that I had collected bees never found in NJ before.”  said Ms. Go.  “Dr. John S. Ascher, Melittologist and AMNH research scientist, identifies all the bees I collect.  He has accumulated most of the data we have and I am assisting him in finalizing this checklist.  Dr. Jerry Rozen, Curator of the AMNH bee collection who resides in Bergen County, has also tremendously contributed to our data with over 60 years of collecting in NJ."

BeesPosterproof_small_forweb"All elements of an ecosystem are important to the function of that ecosystem. If one element of the system is removed, the system makes adjustments. However you may not know what the effect of that adjustment is until after it has happened. That's why finding out exactly what native bee species are present in NJ is so important to the work NJ Audubon is doing, especially with the type of habitat restoration we work on in the agricultural communities of the state," said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJA. "Native bees and other pollinators are essential building blocks of our food system, as well as keeping ecological balance in the landscape. NJ Audubon applauds native bee research that provides missing information on these beneficial insects."

According to the USDA's Farm Management for Native Bees, “Over 100 crop species in North America require insect pollination to be productive. Populations of managed non-native honey bees have declined in recent years. While honey bees are still very important pollinators, encouraging populations of native bees can provide 'pollination insurance' during times when honey bees are not available or are experiencing population decline. bee stuffAt the same time, native bees can increase yields for many crops."

Studies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware indicate, "Native bees will often visits flowers in wet or cold conditions, when honey bees remain in the hive; many native bees forage earlier or later in the day than non-native honey bees, and native bees pollinate several fruit crops, such as apples, cherries, blueberries, cranberries and tomatoes, far more effectively than non-native honey bees on a bee-per-bee basis."

"Anyone can contribute to the Bees of New Jersey survey data by photographing bees (no honeybees please) and posting pictures on www.bugguide.net or sending them to Ms. Go at hgo@amnh.org; clear close-up images that can be identified to species will be useful to the study.  If you have a Flickr account, you can join the study's Bees of NJ group and add your photos.  You can also contact Ms. Go if interested in collecting from your backyard or school."  Said Ms. Go, "It's essential to know what bees we have.  With that baseline information, we can begin monitoring populations, locate and protect important nesting sites, provide food plants, and most importantly appreciate these amazing and beautiful creatures."

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!


save award

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

Expanding Jersey Grown with Birdhouses and Feeders “Made from Jersey Grown Wood”

In April, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation invited New Jersey Audubon’s Director of Conservation and Stewardship, Troy Ettel as guest columnist on their  blogWe are reproducing those posts here to kick-off New Jersey Audubon’s new Stewardship Blog which will feature weekly updates on New Jersey Audubon projects throughout the year, posted by its professional stewardship staff.

Over the past seven years at NJ Audubon, our work to develop stewardship plans throughout New Jersey, whether in Highlands forests, South Jersey pines, or within the agricultural landscapes that define the Garden State, has really brought home the importance of economic realities to the sustainability of conservation. In particular, the quality of life and opportunities for people that live in the regions that we are striving to protect are an incredibly important part of the equationIMG_8514-1. We’ve seen that there are direct parallels with the “Buy Fresh/Buy Local” initiative for fresh, local food to cultivate similar unique opportunities that connect local consumers with local producers for an even wider range of products.

Seeing the connection and importance of local producers playing a role in the implementation of conservation projects, NJ Audubon decided to become more directly involved in connecting agricultural producers with consumer markets. NJA trademarked its own brand - S.A.V.E.TM - which stands for Support Agricultural Viability and the Environment. After decades in the trenches fighting against the types of land uses that we do not like, we felt it was time to start highlighting those that we do. Thus, the emergence of S.A.V.E. – a brand that connects farmers to consumers with a conscience – those interested not only in the origins of their products but also in knowing that supporting the environment is as easy as purchasing a product. In 2008, we started with Jersey Grown birdseed which I will talk more about next week. Now the brand is broadening.

On April 19, 2011 at a press conference in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County, NJ, Douglas Fisher the NJ Secretary of Agriculture joined NJ Audubon and Lynn Fleming, NJ State Forester in announcing an expansion of the Department’s highly successful Jersey Grown/Jersey Fresh program to allow, for the first time, products made from 100% NJ wood to be labeled “Made with Jersey Grown Wood.” The first products to be certified under this label expansion are birdhouses and birdfeeders offered by NJ Audubon.

"Consumers who see the ‘Made with Jersey Grown Wood’ logo on products will immediately know they are supporting New Jersey businesses," said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  "We are happy to partner with NJ Audubon on the expansion of the Jersey Grown program to first, sunflower birdseed, and now, wood. We urge everyone to ask for Jersey Grown at participating nurseries, garden centers, feed stores and specialty shops."

NJ Audubon’s birdhouses and feeders are made of Atlantic white cedar sustainably harvested under forest stewardship plans approved by the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. The lumber is sawn at Schairer Brothers Sawmill in Egg Harbor City. Founded in 1936, Schairer Brothers is one of the few sawmills left in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, providing lumber to local markets mostly within a 50-mile radius. Owner Paul Schairer is a third generation mill operator, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who first began milling wood in the 1920s and operated the family mill while his sons served in World War II. Paul sees a place for his small, family-owned sawmill both to preserve New Jersey’s forests and to serve the local market. He mentions that he IMG_8486-1used to provide wood to a local furniture-making business, but lost the contract when the furniture maker began buying lumber sourced from China. He also is frustrated by the lack of management around him that is contributing to a decline in the region’s forests – from invading insects such as the southern pine beetle and gypsy moth, to a poorly understood decline in Atlantic white cedar. “We need management on some parcels,” Paul says. “The woods are not healthy. Without management we have stressed trees.”

Atlantic white cedar is an important, native ecosystem that harbors many rare plants and animals in New Jersey – but despite the presence of tens of thousands of acres of cedar forests on public land it is declining. Restoration of cedar is one of the highest conservation priorities in South Jersey; it is also has one of the highest per acre restoration costs. To date, cedar restoration has been funded almost entirely by grants from the federal government. However, considering the current debate surrounding the national debt and severe cuts to many of the programs that have been allowing this important work to occur, we should be deeply concerned about the sustainability of government-dependent conservation. If an economic incentive existed to properly manage and maintain not only white cedar forests, but forests throughout the state, implantation of approved Forest Stewardship Plans would allow sustainable harvest while also helping achieve goals for forest restoration and management.

State Forester Lynn Fleming, who oversees the NJ State Forest Service, the agency within NJ DEP responsible for approving Forest Stewardship Plans, agrees, "The 'Made with Jersey Grown Wood' label advocates quality products produced by our state's local forests. Fortuitously, the introduction of the label coincides with the International Year of Forests, which celebrates sustainable forestry all over the world."

NJ Audubon agrees, and supports local, family-owned businesses that provide forest and farm products for local use, support the local economies of New Jersey’s communities, and help secure the future of New Jersey’s forests and farmland. When preservation of natural resources makes economic as well as ecological sense, our job is a lot easier.

For more information about the program or to find a list of participating retailers that sell S.A.V.E. products please visit NJ Audubon’s Jersey Grown website.