Coming Back to the Homeland - Why one family chose to preserve their farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey

Mrs. Claire de Groot pictured along side one of the beautiful mature trees on the farm. Mrs. de Groot first moved to the farm when she was just 6 years old.

Mrs. Claire de Groot pictured along side one of the beautiful mature trees on the farm. Mrs. de Groot first moved to the farm when she was just 6 years old.

Claire de Groot remembers moving to the farm on Route 34 in Colts Neck in 1936 when she was six years old. At that time there was farmland as far as the eye could see. “I have so many cherished memories from this land,” Claire remembers. “We used to go ice skating in the pond, that was back when ponds still froze,” and “at one time I actually had a pet skunk,” Claire chuckles as she fondly recalls.

Claire de Groot moved to the approximately 60-acre farm with her family 83 years ago when Colts Neck was a sleepy, rural town where practically everyone knew each other. She met her husband while attending Red Bank High School and the couple raised a family with four children, moving every two years due to her husband’s career in the United States Navy. Now married 67 years, the farm has been the backdrop for a lifetime worth of memories. “We always referred to the farm as our Homeland,” recalls Claire. “It was always a place where time seemed to stop, and we could spend endless hours together enjoying the outdoors.”

“From all the places we lived, this place always felt like home. It was always like a little slice of heaven to us,” Claire explained. “We knew that we could never allow this beautiful land that holds so many cherished family memories to become covered with houses.”

Over the past 83 years Colts Neck transformed from a rural farm town to a desired, residential estate community. Although the area still retains much of its rural character, thousands of homes have been built and thousands of acres of natural land have been lost forever. However, Claire can now rest assured that her family farm will never be developed.

“We knew we wanted to see the land preserved,” explained Claire, who made the decision to preserve their family farm, not once, but twice. First, when the family preserved 20 acres in 2005 and now the remaining 40 acres, forever uniting the 60 acres as their family farm, forever.

Mrs. and Mr. Ward de Groot pictured here in front of their home on the farm in Colts Neck.

Mrs. and Mr. Ward de Groot pictured here in front of their home on the farm in Colts Neck.

“Monmouth Conservation Foundation is so pleased to see this beautiful piece of farmland preserved,” explained William Kastning, Executive Director for Monmouth Conservation Foundation. “MCF partnered with the State Agriculture Development Committee, the County of Monmouth and the Township of Colts Neck for funding to purchase the development rights on the farm and ensure it remains protected from development.”

“We are so happy that the de Groot family chose to preserve their farm,” explained Holly Boylan-Flego, President of the MCF Board of Trustees. “We hope that more farm owning families will follow in the de Groot’s footsteps and choose to preserve rather than develop their land.”

“Our decision to preserve the farm is something that gives me peace when I go to bed at night,” Claire remarked. “No matter what happens, this land will remain a farm and part of the community.”

Did you know?

  • Monmouth County has lost over 100,000 acres of farmland between 1954 and 2012 (U.S. Census data).

  • Of the remaining farmland in Monmouth County, 15,429 acres are preserved through the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program.  This acreage now includes the de Groot farm.

  • The cost to purchase the development rights on farmland in Monmouth County ranges from $10,000 to $60,000 per acre.  These values are dependent on the farmland characteristics and location of each property, as well as current market conditions. 

  • The quality of the soil is a driving factor behind farmland preservation.  The goal is to protect farms with the best soils for growing food.

An aerial view of the farm pictures what remains of the rural landscape of Colts Neck.

An aerial view of the farm pictures what remains of the rural landscape of Colts Neck.

Protecting the Pines of Monmouth County – Allaire State Park Expands

Monmouth Conservation Foundation and the State of New Jersey purchase +/-190 acres to expand Allaire State Park.


Wall Township – A beloved park just got bigger.  Through a strategic effort, Monmouth Conservation Foundation and the State of New Jersey DEP Green Acres Program purchased the last remaining large parcel of land connected to Allaire State Park, expanding the park by nearly 190 acres.

“This didn’t happen by chance,” explained William Kastning, Executive Director of Monmouth Conservation Foundation, “Both the Foundation and the State have had a long-held interest in seeing this land preserved.  When the property heirs became interested in selling, we were proud to present the opportunity to the State and initiate the conversation.  It’s very exciting to see this land protected forever as additions to Allaire State Park.”

Pink Lady Slipper J. Cosimo.JPG

Unique plants and animals, that seek home in the pinelands landscape, will be safe to thrive in this habitat forever.  Animals of special concern including the hooded warbler, great blue heron, barred owl, wood turtle, cooper’s hawk and black crowned night heron all call this land home.  “When you visit the park, you can easily spot some of the rare birds, frogs and amphibians that thrive in the Pine Barrens.  It’s one of the best places around to view wildlife.  I hope you’ll come experience it for yourself when the new trails open” remarked Mr. Kastning.  The preservation of these 190 acres abundant with rare moss, ferns, pitch pines, holly and laurel, all indicators of the sandy acidic soil that characterize this northern tip of the New Jersey Pinelands, ensures that it will remain home to the wildlife and plant species that have raised their families there for generations.

The once open landscape and farmland surrounding the park has experienced rapid development including the Route 34 corridor in Wall Township where the newly acquired land is located.  If not preserved, the land would have been developed into an office complex, more residential homes, or a mixture of both.

Allaire State Park is a regional destination drawing year-round crowds visiting the historic 19th-century iron making Allaire Village, Pine Creek Railroad’s antique steam trains, the impressive trail network, diverse natural features and the abundance of wildlife.  It offers outdoor activities for all ages and interests.  Although no plans have been formalized, it is expected that the new addition will expand the existing park uses and connect into the existing trail system.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation has been creating parks, saving open space, preserving farmland, safeguarding waterways, protecting wildlife and teaching environmental sustainability since 1977.  As a 501(c)(3) and an accredited land trust, Monmouth Conservation Foundation contributed over $200,000 towards the purchase of this 190-acre expansion to Allaire State Park.  The New Jersey DEP Green Acres Program contributed approximately $3.6 million towards the purchase of this critical piece of land.

For more information please call Monmouth Conservation Foundation at 732.671.7000.

Boxed Out – A Day in the Life of an Eastern Box Turtle

Imagine coming home…to find it’s gone.

Foraging the forest for berries, spiders and worms to eat, the Eastern Box Turtles – the turtle most commonly found on land throughout Monmouth County’s forested landscapes and meadows--can be easily displaced by their home’s destruction.  Once surrounded by thousands of acres of woodlands, filled with the sounds of streams and whispering leaves, much of the habitat they and other wildlife need to survive has been lost.

You can make sure that turtles, and other wildlife, have a place to call home…forever. Critical habitat, throughout the county, is facing development pressure that will eliminate habitat for these beautiful reptiles.

You can make sure that turtles, and other wildlife, have a place to call home…forever. Critical habitat, throughout the county, is facing development pressure that will eliminate habitat for these beautiful reptiles.

With haphazard and sprawling development, on the rise, these beautiful reptiles, marked by their iconic yellow and black shell, find their habitat more at risk than ever before.

The good news - we still have a chance to conserve some of the best remaining forests and meadows in our region. In Colts Neck and Wall Townships, local families are looking for Monmouth Conservation’s assistance to conserve these lands rather than sell them for development.

It takes only a few minutes to fell a forest tree while the sounds of chainsaws echo throughout the remaining woods.  In that wake, the natural habitat of not only the Eastern Box Turtle, but all kinds of wildlife, is wiped out.

These families know, just like you, that development isn’t bad, or something to be rejected, here in the County. Rather, we just need to balance the conservation of wildlife habitat, farms, parks and areas around waterways with development to ensure a stable tax base, quality of life, and enhance resiliency from extreme weather.

Study after study has documented that maintaining a balance between undeveloped and developed lands is important to our economy, our health---and the survival and habitat of wildlife that inhabit those lands.

But we are running out of time to conserve the essence of what makes these areas viable for wildlife. That’s because once the habitat demolished, and gateways between them is destroyed, it often loses the ability to provide the habitat needed for many of these animals to live.

The turtles are at risk. But so are the butterflies, songbirds, hummingbirds and the wondrous variety of wildlife that enriches our lives in so many ways.

According to a  Global Assessment report released in May 2019 by the United Nations , human activity has resulted in the sever alteration of more than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas. The earth is at risk of losing one million species, like the Eastern Box Turtle, to extinction due to over-development like this site in Middletown, New Jersey.

According to a Global Assessment report released in May 2019 by the United Nations, human activity has resulted in the sever alteration of more than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas. The earth is at risk of losing one million species, like the Eastern Box Turtle, to extinction due to over-development like this site in Middletown, New Jersey.

We are facing a critical choice whose impact will last for generations to come. With your help, we can conserve hundreds of acres before they are lost and create the protected corridors of woodlands and meadows, along with streams and waterways, for animals to migrate, raise their young, and find food and shelter.

It’s the gift of ensuring they have a home. It’s a gift that also defines our home, and our community, here in Monmouth County, for years to come.

  • Over the past 20 years, thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, have been lost to haphazard and sprawling development like that pictured below.

  • The next five years are critical to create wildlife corridors along streams and farms, before they are developed.

  • Extreme weather is requiring greater diversity of wildlife habitat to allow them to migrate food, water, and places to raise their young.

  • You love of wildlife will make a difference.  There are projects ready to be conserved – all we need is you.  To take action through your donation, please follow the link below.

  • Learn more about a statewide effort to protect and connect wildlife habitat across New Jersey by visiting the New Jersey Division of Wildlife website for Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey:

How to Inspire 12-Year-Olds: The impact growing their own food had on a Red Bank middle school class.

By Amanda Brockwell, Director of Programs and Outreach


Have you ever stood in front of a classroom of middle school students?  The experience can be frightening!  This group of students grew fresh, organic vegetables in their classroom using an aeroponic growing unit, known as a Tower Garden, gifted to them by Monmouth Conservation Foundation.  Visiting classrooms which received the towers helps us better understand the impact of the experience and allows us to teach the next generation about conservation issues, for example, how sustainable food production and land preservation can help alleviate the impacts of climate change. 

Looking around the room, the students were initially aloof to what I had to say.  I was taken back to my own middle school days when I was also too cool for school.  I quickly recognized I needed common ground that we could all connect to in order to warm up this classroom.  The way into anyone’s heart is food, so I decide to feed them.  Food brings everyone together, particularly good food!  Together, using the lettuces, kale and herbs grown in the classroom and some beautiful, locally grown strawberries (from a preserved farm, of course!) we prepared and enjoyed a delicious and incredibly fresh salad.  I was finally getting through to them! 

The classroom came alive with questions.  How exactly do plants grow without soil?  What is in the salad dressing?  Why does this lettuce taste so different than the salad from Wendy’s last night?  Can I grow this at home?  Our discussions led to some great ideas for their school science symposium.  One student, who hadn’t made a peep all class, asked about the carbon cycle and how preserving forests help to absorb greenhouse gases.  After our advanced conversation, I asked him to send us a resumé if he needed a college internship in a few years.   


When the bell rang, I gave them all a small parting gift, a packet of seeds to plants in their own backyard to feed our pollinators which are critical to our food supply.  They promised they would tell everyone they knew about the importance Monmouth Conservation Foundation’s work.  Off to their next class they went, educated, inspired and energized.  Mission accomplished.  Little did those kids know, they inspired me.  I left that classroom feeling hopeful that we are leaving the future of our planet in good hands.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation granted six classrooms an aeroponic growing device, a Tower Garden, to schools across Monmouth County, including Asbury Park, Holmdel, Howell, Henry Hudson, Neptune and Red Bank.  Growing food in classrooms through a hands-on, interactive experience, led to a deeper understanding of many aspects of their science curriculum.  It also paved the way for students to think about why preserving farmland is important and how different growing our food might be in the future. 

While visiting over 800 students at the end of the school year, MCF staff was able to observe how this one program piqued their curiosity, inspiration and improved critical thinking.  None of this would have been possible without the generous grant funding provided by the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

MCF is currently preparing to offer another program round to middle schools in Monmouth County for the 2019/2020 school year.  The application deadline is September 30, 2019 and more information can be found at or by contacting Amanda Brockwell at


Our Favorite Farms for the Freshest Food Around

Do you consider yourself a foodie?  For the most discerning critics of fresh and local fruits, herbs and veggies, we offer our top recommendations for local farms that will not disappoint. 

Here are our favorite farms that offer scrumptious, unique and sustainably grown produce that will make your taste buds sing.  You can drop by their farm stand and pick-up beautiful, nutrient packed produce as you do your errands around town.  Other farms ask that you become a member of their farm and in exchange you receive a basket of produce each week.  This is called Community Supported Agriculture or a CSA.  It’s a wonderful way to support small farms in our community.  Enjoy!

Drop the Beet Farms, at Calgo Gardens 462 Adelphia-Farmingdale Road in Howell:  Cody Parker is the operator of this amazingly innovative aquaponics farm.  Aquaponics is a sustainable farming practice where the waste from fish supplies the nutrients for hydroponic growth of herbs, vegetables and other plants within a green house.  Cody also partners with the MCF to educate students about sustainable farming practices through our Kids for Conservation Program.  To learn more, contact Cody Parker at

McCormick Farms, 119 Tindall Road in Middletown:  This family-owned and operated farm has been a local favorite for generations.  You won’t find a better curated selection of seasonal produce with an array of different varieties of tomatoes, lettuces, peppers and many other unique items.  One of the many reasons this farm is a favorite is because the McCormick’s chose to preserve their farm ensuring that it will always remain a part of the community and reminder of the areas’ agrarian past.  For farm stand hours, check their Facebook page or call (732) 671-0162.

Beyond Organic Growers, 89 Howell Road in Freehold: Set on the beautiful backdrop of a preserved farm (yes, this family also chose to protect their family farm forever!) that has been operated by the Reid Family for 100 years, is a unique aeroponic greenhouse growing produce and herbs that have become all the rage of local chefs.  The greenhouse is open for sales daily and also offers yoga events, farm-to-table dinners and an on-site juice bar.  For open hours and events, visit their Facebook page or call (732) 303-1515.

Martenette Farms, Ocean Grove CSA Pick-up location:  Husband and wife team, Tony and Andrea, have made their farm dream a reality through their organic farm that offers a wide variety of seasonal produce, grains and meat.  The perfect option for busy foodies, this farm is located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, but offers a convenient weekly pick-up location at The Starving Artist in Ocean Grove every Friday.  They also offer weekly delivery.  For more information visit their website or contact them at 908-625-4886 or

The County of Monmouth’s Grown in Monmouth program also offers an excellent directory featuring many local farm stands, CSA shares, and a pick-your-own directory.  Follow this link to the Grown in Monmouth website.

PLAYGROUNDS VS. PLAYSTATIONS - Igniting a Spark Today for Tomorrow’s Conservation Leaders

Today kids are more preoccupied with play stations than playgrounds.  It’s a condition affecting children as young as kindergarten-age.  “They are living in an iPad world” explained Megan Meyers, a 27-year veteran of teaching kindergarten in Howell Township, New Jersey.  “They don’t play outside anymore. Some kids are even afraid to play outside because they fear insects and animals - even dirt!”

To prove her point, Megan recalls Nicholas--a student from last year who logged endless hours in front of smartphones, tablets and TVs.  The truth is, Nicholas was no different than most kids.  In fact, research shows that kids as young as five are spending seven hours per day in front of technology and as little as 15 minutes outside, playing in nature. 

Megan understood that the educational stakes were high for Nicholas as he was withdrawn, often lost his focus and struggled with sensory issues.  She explained, “This is what we worry about as teachers. If we can’t connect with kids when they are young, as young as kindergarten, they may miss out on critical learning experiences and it can hold them back for years.”

Megan Meyers and Student

Megan Meyers and Student

Luckily for Nicholas and hundreds of other elementary school-age children, Kids for Conservation (KFC), a free educational program offered by Monmouth Conservation Foundation to schools throughout Monmouth County, is helping them to connect with nature.  For some kids, KFC can even make a difference developmentally, helping them to navigate a variety of challenges.  Through lesson plans, the program empowers all children to feel like young environmentalists—champions of local wildlife, farms, sources of clean water and conservation. The program is made possible through the generosity of individual supporters and grant funders whose donations underwrite the program costs.

To put KFC into action, Megan would often turn the outdoors into a hands-on lesson with homework to “have fun” and collect leaves.  With each outdoor venture, Megan noticed a transformation in her young student.  “You should have seen how drastically Nicholas changed in his attitude towards the outdoors, specifically about animals, after we watched the eagle camera [part of the KFC curriculum that allows students to get a live view of life within an eagle’s nest].  It was like a different child had emerged. He was completely focused when watching the eagle and confident enough to be a leader in the class discussion afterwards,” she explained.

Having witnessed the results, Megan is passionate about KFC and how the program engages young children and ignites their curiosity.  “The kids in my class are so excited. They forget about the video games and think about how they can help—whether it’s a bee, an eagle--or farming. Every school needs this chance and it’s especially important to introduce very young kids to science concepts such as conservation issues.”

All the teachers participating in the KFC program will have a lasting impact. By creating excitement and a passion for nature and building compassion for the environment during especially formative years, all translate to a more promising future for the preservation of farms and open spaces, not to mention healthier and more robust communities.  As the iconic environmentalist, Rachel Carson, noted in her book, The Sense of Wonder, a child “needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it (nature), rediscovering within him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

Now, more than ever, we need to invest in the kids of Monmouth County—the next  generation of caretakers for our land and the wildlife that depends upon it.  For more information about Kids for Conservation and how you can help support this important work, please visit or click below.

Taking A Stand for Preservation – One Woman’s Story

Jacqui Wenzel is running for an Ocean Township Committee seat in the next election.

Jacqui Wenzel is running for an Ocean Township Committee seat in the next election.

Jacqui loved the old town vibe of Ocean Township. “It seemed frozen in time with all the charm and character that I adore,” recalls Jacqui. With childhood memories of having lived near a park, she was in search of something green; a way to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City where she lived and worked. It was these emotions and experiences that compelled Jacqui to purchase a home on Deal Road across from Joe Palaia Park over 20 years ago.

Jacqui lived happily on Deal Road, enjoying the small-town way of life, until she received a knock on her door that would be life-changing. Greeted by members of the community, Jacqui listened as they explained a developer’s plans to exploit a historic piece of undeveloped land next to the park. The 32-acre parcel had significant historical value with a multitude of Native American and early American relics found on the site.

“I learned a lot that day about the issues and the corruption that was at the core of rezoning 32 acres of Ocean Townships Historic Native American site and then farmland, that was already found eligible for listing in the National Registry of Historic Places, for a massive commercial development” says Jacqui. At the time, the community was blindsided with the rezoning, which they feared would bring increased traffic and flooding.

It turned out, backroom dealings with developers, resulted in several zoning changes around town, allowing for the construction of numerous large-scale developments. These dishonest dealings eventually sent the former Mayor to prison, but the zoning changes on the 32-acre parcel were not rescinded.

For about 15 years, the zoning issue remained and, now the 32-acre historic property is slated to be transformed into a WAWA Gas Station, four story Marriott Hotel, a fast food restaurant, mixed retail stores, and 70+ townhouses.

The property is situated next door to Joe Palaia Park, the beautiful Ocean Township library, Eden Woolley Farm house, now a township history museum, and Water Tower – an area that serves as the community hub of Ocean Township. This leads many to question why the property isn’t being preserved as an addition to the park.

While Jacqui would not describe herself as a die-hard “environmentalist” in her professional life, she finds herself today, leading the fight to stop this from ever happening. “I never would have imagined that I would lead a charge like this, but I just can’t stand by and allow this to proceed given the corruption that played out years ago, which left this fragile wetland forest, with rich Native American History, vulnerable to destruction.”

Jacqui with the Save 32 Acre lawn signs that have been posted around the area to raise awareness.

Jacqui with the Save 32 Acre lawn signs that have been posted around the area to raise awareness.

Jacqui’s desire to preserve this historic piece of paradise as an expansion of Joe Palaia Park has meant hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. She and her husband filed a law suit against the town concerning the zoning change and was found credible to proceed with an appeal. The case concerning recent zoning changes made to accommodate the WAWA gas station and Hotel are still being reviewed in Trenton by the Appellate Court.

By no means, however, is this development issue settled. In fact, Monmouth Conservation Foundation is assisting Jacqui by providing technical expertise and working with the township to

successfully preserve the land and permanently protect it. There are still, however, big hurdles to overcome before the land can be considered for permanent protection. Jacqui encourages everyone to attend meetings, speak-up and contact the Mayor directly to let him know how you feel about the issue.” She says, “The Township really needs to hear that the community wants this land to become a park, not a massive development.”

Jacqui is even taking her passion for this project to the ballot box, running for a Township Committee seat in the upcoming election. “The main reason I am running is because I can provide another perspective and because I feel so strongly about protecting the natural beauty of the township’s shrinking tree canopy and what is left of the old charm of Ocean Township and all the natural beauty that caused me to move here 22 years ago.”

To contact to Jacqui and learn more about Save 32 Acres, you can visit

Partner Spotlight: Cream Ridge Winery is Crazy about Preservation!

Tim Schlitzer and Jerry Amabile, operator and owner, of Cream Ridge Winery are truly crazy about the importance of supporting local.  Dedicated supporters of local wine, local produce, local farming and local land preservation, they took action through their Poco Locol sangria, a product made exclusively from locally grown grapes. 

Jerry Amabile, William Kastning, Amanda Brockwell and Tim Schlitzer. Jerry and Tim present MCF with a donation check from the sales of Poco Locol sangria. Thanks Cream Ridge Winery!

Jerry Amabile, William Kastning, Amanda Brockwell and Tim Schlitzer. Jerry and Tim present MCF with a donation check from the sales of Poco Locol sangria. Thanks Cream Ridge Winery!

This beautiful wine barrel was custom painted to display the label of Poco Locol sangria, each bottle displays the MCF logo and mission to protect local farms.

This beautiful wine barrel was custom painted to display the label of Poco Locol sangria, each bottle displays the MCF logo and mission to protect local farms.

What is the inspiration behind this fun and fruity sangria?  “We want to source as much as possible from local farms and vineyards to make our wine, but the local supply of grapes and other ingredients can’t meet the demand for the winery” explained Tim.  This got Tim and Jerry, long-time friends and business partners, thinking about what they could do to help encourage more local farmers to grow grapes locally.  They were inspired to dedicate a portion of proceeds from each bottle of Poco Locol sangria to Monmouth Conservation Foundation.  The donations are put to into action through Monmouth Conservation Foundation’s programs to support and preserve farmland.

Don’t miss an opportunity to visit Cream Ridge Winery this Valentine’s Day!  To learn more, please visit their website:

Nature’s Architects Have a Permanent Home in Millstone

Although Beavers are no longer endangered in New Jersey, the impacts of their dams often make them unwelcome tenants.  Landowners often trap and relocate these bucktoothed builders to avoid the effects of their dams.  Yet, Beavers play an important role in the ecosystem and are considered a keystone species.  The dams and ponds they form don’t just benefit beavers.  Many other species depend on the shallow pools and pondside real estate that abounds from busy beaver behavior.


In the meticulously manicured landscapes of Monmouth County, it’s hard for beavers to find places to establish their homes uninterrupted by humans.  Thanks to the preservation of a 12 acre tract of land at the headwaters of the Toms River in Millstone Township, the beavers that have established a dam there will continue to benefit the ecosystem.


Behind the stores and shopping malls on the border of Jackson and Millstone Townships, lies an untouched piece of land that will now remain that way forever thanks to a partnership between Millstone Township, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, the NJ DEP Green Acres Program and the County of Monmouth.  The property had the potential to be developed into another shopping mall, but was acquired in December 2018 and will remain as protected natural land owned by the Township of Millstone. 

The land is mostly wetlands and sensitive habitat, making it home to numerous threatened and endangered species, in addition to the beavers that have established residency there.  Perhaps most importantly, the location of the property at the headwaters of the Toms River makes it crucial to protecting water quality.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation helps towns throughout the County to achieve their open space, farmland preservation, and recreation goals.  For more information about how MCF can help in your town, contact our office at 732.671.7000.

Stylish Gifts that are Good for the Planet and Everyone on Your List!

We compiled a gift guide to help you find stylish and sustainable gifts for everyone on your list (including your pets). Amongst all the wrapping, ribbon, and lights of the holiday season, any earth conscious shopper will notice that the holidays can be a wasteful season.  We are turning that around with this great list of gifts that stays true to the true intent of the season of giving by giving back to both our loved ones and Mother Nature!



Recycled, Biodegradable Phone Case

Each year consumer’s swap out old cell phones and their cases for the latest option. Those cases take decades to break down.  Pela created a phone case that offers protection for your phone, is made from plant-based materials and is 100% biodegradable in your backyard compost pile!  They also come sans the unnecessary plastic packaging!  Available here:


Recycled Women’s Shoes

Rothy’s are stylish, comfortable shoes that go with everything.  They are made from sustainable materials including recycled water bottles.  The boxes are also biodegradable and re-sealable for easy returns.  Every woman on your list will be sure to love these. Even the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle approves!  Available here:


Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat

Most Yoga mats are made from PVC that ends up in landfills.  Honey Feet yoga mats are made with 100% natural materials - sustainable cork and tree rubber.  They are super absorbent, don’t hold odors and reviews state that the earthly materials provide a natural connection that enhances their yoga. 

Available here:

Farmerly Love
Public Market Goods creates super soft statement tees for adults and children, and tote bags that you can be proud to show off. They are made via sustainable manufacturing in the U.S., printed with environmentally-friendly ink and are shipped in 100% recycled mailers

Available here:



Sustainable Fabric Clothing

Tent Tree creates stylish men’s and women’s apparel, and accessories made using blends of sustainable and recycled fabrics.  For every item purchased they plant ten trees!

Available here:


Re-purposed Vinyl Billboard Products

Rareform repurposes 20,000 pounds a month of old vinyl billboards into one of a kind products ranging from backpacks, to wallets and laptop sleeves. They are durable, fun and help ease stress on the environment.  Available here:


Eco-Friendly Home Goods

VivaTerra creates beautiful, eco-friendly decor without compromising natural resources or environmental health.Their items are fun and unique, like this upcycled glass cloche and reclaimed wood pedestal.

Available here:


Recycled Plastic Bottle Towel

You can never have too many beach towels at the Jersey Shore!  Nomadix creates stylish towels and blankets out of recycled plastic bottles.  Available here:


Wood Products that Inspire the Exploration of Nature

WOODCHUCK USA creates wood products that are a daily reminder of our connection with the Earth.  They also plant a tree for every product sold!  You’ll find a gift for everyone here and including large, custom orders.  Our favorite is their bucket list planner.  Available here:


Made-from-Scratch-Living Books

These books will help you cook from scratch, garden, preserve your own food, declutter your home, improve your family’s health with natural cooking and cleaning methods.  They will help you to experience your own homesteading journey whether you live in the middle of the asphalt jungle or on the side of a mountain. Available here:


Sustainably Made Outdoor Goods

United by Blue sells women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories as well as items for camping and your home with uses responsible materials that keep our oceans, air and soil a little cleaner.  For every product sold, they remove one pound of trash from waterways.  Our favorite, these outdoors inspired copper shot glasses.  Available here:


Critter-Saving Pool Escape Ramp
Most pool owners dread the thought of finding dead animals in their pools.  The FrogLog allows small animals to climb out of swimming pools – saving the animals, keeping the pool water clean and reducing pool maintenance!  Available here:


Reusable Smart Notebook
The pen and paper experience for the digital age, Rocketbook Everlast Notebook cuts down on paper waste while still using a notebook.

Available here:



Upcycled Marine Rope Collars and Leashes

Found My Animal creates accessories for pets and their people, and supports animal welfare and adopted pets. Our favorite is the upcycled marine grade rope, adjustable dog leash that can be used multiple ways – including the hands free option that fastens around your waist or over your shoulder.  Perfect for hiking!  They even sell horse leads.

Available here:


Eco-Friendly Pet Products

Harry Barker creates products from recycled rope dog leashes to toys made with recycled plastic bottle filling.  You are sure to find something for your four legged friends here.

Available here:

And here:


Green Toys

Begin Again Toys


This eco-friendly toy company provide toys that teach, challenge, and let kids explore. Toys are made from plant-based materials, eco-friendly and recycled plastics, and reclaimed wood. They make toys, games and puzzles for children 0-5 and beyond.
Available here:
and here


This eco-friendly toy company makes their products from 100% recycled plastic, like milk jugs and yogurt cups, in the U.S. and colors them with soy ink. The toys require no batteries, just imagination and are packaged in recycled cardboard.
Available here:



Eco-Friendly Online Marketplace – Need a one stop shop?  Earth Hero has already found products that are sourced, manufactured and shipped in a way that protects our earth’s future.  You will find something unique for everyone on your list here! Available here:



Homemade Jams and Jellies


Jams and jellies made from local fruits are the perfect addition to almost any snack or meal! Visit the Facebook page of Holly Jolly Jams to contact for a purchase.

Available here:

Who doesn’t love a bottle of wine?


Stop by the Cream Ridge Winery in Upper Freehold for the perfect bottle of wine for everyone on your list (except children and pets!).  Shipping is not an option, they insist on seeing your smiling face in person, but the beautiful local scenery is worth the trip! Available here:

Beeswax Products


Support your local beekeepers!  Most offer a variety of different honeys and honey products, such as beeswax candles.  These candles burn longer, purify the air, and have a sweet honey aroma. E&M Gold Beekepers will ship to you, or you can pick up right in Tinton Falls.  Available here:

Looking to DIY? Check out our Pinterest page for handmade, eco-friendly gift ideas.

Don’t forget to be mindful of your gift wrapping materials!  We dispose of 25% more trash during the holiday season. Use old magazines, newspapers, re-useable boxes, tins, or recycled cloth ribbons as alternatives to single use wrapping paper and plastic wrapping materials. 

More than just a Meadow - One Woman’s Path to Preservation

Valerie Montecalvo enjoying the pollinator meadow at her Spy Hill property in Middletown.

Valerie Montecalvo enjoying the pollinator meadow at her Spy Hill property in Middletown.

It was indeed “love at first sight” that made Valerie and her family “tie the knot” with the 22-acre Spy Hill property in Middletown. Growing up in the urban area of Middlesex County, Valerie Montecalvo, the Founder of Bayshore Recycling Corp, has always longed for a more bucolic setting although back then she didn’t know she would ever buy a farm.  

The Montecalvo family owns and operates the largest industrial recycling facility on the East Coast and they are no strangers to the importance of sustainability and environmental protection.  Valerie points out, “When I decided that I wanted acreage, I started looking for properties that would always hold their charms and barely change--thereby creating a legacy farm property for generations to come.” The location of Spy Hill, next door to the Scudder Preserve with 91 acres of permanently preserved land, made it the perfect match.

Not only Valerie’s childhood, but a lifetime of experiences such as operating Bayshore Recycling and serving as a Trustee for Monmouth Conservation Foundation, moved her to purchase Spy Hill and transform the land into a native plant meadow. “The property needed a lot of work when we purchased it and we could have built three houses and cut it all up, but we didn’t want this to be another development or all green lawn.”

Two of the bee hives situated next to the meadow.

Two of the bee hives situated next to the meadow.

Valerie understood what we know all too well. Development and overly manicured lawns are quickly replacing meadows with their benefits and breathtaking beauty. While meadows provide food and shelter for pollinators, lawn herbicides and over use of fertilizers threaten our open spaces and the busy bees which perpetuate floral growth and provide attractive habitats for animals and other insects. When meadows disappear, so do the pollinators as well as other beneficial insects, bats, birds and so much of Monmouth’s natural splendor.

In her heart, Valerie knew that Spy Hill could be her land of plenty. Though overrun with invasive plants, her vision was to transform the already open fields into native plant meadows, serving as a beautiful buzzing habitat pollinators and other wildlife could call home.

Some of the beautiful native flowers and grasses growing in the meadow this fall.

Some of the beautiful native flowers and grasses growing in the meadow this fall.

To give Spy Hill its much-needed makeover, Valerie enlisted Lorette Cheswick of Long Note Farm who specializes in establishing pollinator meadows. Over the past year, Valerie, Lorette, and the Montecalvo family have transformed part of the property into a 2.6 acre pollinator meadow with an array different native grass and an abundance of flowers. To bring the pollinator meadow into complete harmony, beehives were established, growing the colony from 3,000 to 25,000 bees in just the past year.

No doubt, establishing a meadow requires patience and perseverance. Looking back at the weeks of heavy machinery work to remove the invasive plants, Valerie admits, “conservation takes time.” In the end though, Spy Hill is the gold-star example of promise and conservation in Monmouth.

Beyond pollination, Valerie finds a special peace and tranquility in Spy Hill. “I sit there and meditate, giving thanks for all my blessings which really helps with the balancing of all of life’s obstacles” Valerie shared.  “It was that commitment to taking time to enjoy the land that helped me to understand the role nature plays in healing our mind, body, and soul.”

Like so many of us, Spy Hill is a work in progress. As Valerie makes clear, “This transformation into a meadow is like fostering a little world and filling it with grasses, flowers, bees, and so many other insects – it’s all about coexisting with nature.”

For more information about pollinator plants and creating meadows, contact our office at (732) 671-7000 or email

Don’t spook Mother Nature – Have a Green Halloween!


Remember when the biggest Halloween hazard was razor blades in the candy? Or so we thought. We wore devilish masks and ran around the neighborhood collecting candy in our plastic pumpkins, returning home to stuff our faces with candy until our tummies hurt. When you’re a kid, ignorance is bliss. Now, we’re older, greener, and wiser, and we know better. Many masks are toxic PVC and those plastic pumpkins are still sitting in landfills years later.

A few simple swaps can guard the health of the planet, your family and your wallet without sacrificing a ghoulish good time.

1. Pass on the plastic pumpkin. Trick or Treat with Reusable Bags or decorate an old pillowcase or bucket that you can use every year.

DIY Pillowcase Trick or Treat Bags

2. Create a fabulously freaky costume. Vinyl costumes and masks smell like chemicals because they’re actually off-gassing toxic chemicals. Browse thrift shops, flea markets and your own closet for inspiration to DIY. You can masquerade into anything you can imagine - an old prom dress, broken umbrella, or toilet paper rolls are the beginnings of great costumes. You are sure to feed your children’s imagination, and their sense of achievement will far exceed any store bought creation. After Halloween, store your homemade costumes for future use, donate the clothing from which they were made, or recycle the items used.



If you want a more elaborate disguise, visit a costume rental shop. You may not avoid the chemical exposure, but your conscience will be greener knowing it will be re-used next year.



3. Mind the makeup. Choose face paint or make up without lead, that is cruelty free and contains no harmful toxins. Or make your own non-toxic Halloween makeup - you can even make your own fake blood!



4. Indulge in Green Goodies. When the neighborhood ghouls show up at your door, give them treats that also treat the environment gently. If your budget allows, purchase candy made from natural ingredients. If you stick with traditional candy, choose goodies that have minimal packaging. Consider giving out pencils, crayons, or temporary tattoos. You will reduce the amount of garbage produced from single-serve packages and will provide an alternative to unhealthy sweets.

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5. Purchase organic, locally grown pumpkins or grow your own! Don't throw away all the goodies from inside your Jack-o-Lantern. Toast the seeds for tasty treats and use the flesh for delicious recipes like pumpkin brownies.

6. Ditch disposable decorations. Many decorations are made from non-recyclable plastics and the only thing scary about them is the amount of time they’ll take to decompose in a landfill! Use items already in your home for ghoulish decorations and natural products like pumpkins, gourds and corn to create an autumnal look.

Recycled and recyclable materials are great Halloween decorations. Hang bed sheetsfor ghosts, Make a scarecrow from old clothes stuffed with newspapers, use old stockings for spider webs, transform cardboard boxes into tombs and create a milk jug skeleton.

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7. Make Your Halloween Party Eco-Friendly. Send electronic invites instead of paper. Cut down on waste byusing washable plates/cups/utensils and tablecloths or use recyclable or compostable single use items. Check out Susty Party for compostable party products. Put out recycling bins for bottles and cans. Buy locally grown seasonal produce and create fun/healthy party snacks. Check out this directory for places throughout Monmouth County

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8. Compost your pumpkin, food scraps and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste. A pumpkin may be all-natural, but send it to a sealed landfill and it will emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. No compost pile? Recycle pumpkins for wildlife. Avoid painted pumpkins - you don’t want the paint chemicals in your compost or being fed to wildlife! Composting is something you can do year-round and Halloween is a great time to start. It will transform your organic yard and household waste into fertilizer for your gardens and reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.

9. Keep Halloween Clean – Prevent candy wrappers from becoming litter and teach kids to hold onto wrappers until they can dispose of them in trash cans. Bring an extra bag for yourself when trick or treating to pick up litter along the way. Encourage kids to get creative and upcycle their candy wrappers into jewelry, hair bows, wreaths or pumpkins! These make great DIY holiday gifts.


10. Keep it Going – Living an eco-friendly lifestyle and reducing waste and pollution should be a daily event, not a special occasion. Apply the strategies you used for a green Halloween to the way you live every day, both you and the environment will benefit.

Check out our Pinterest page for more tips to make your Halloween green!

A Farming Way of Life – Then, Now and Forever

When the Callan family first began farming their land on Everett Road in Holmdel it was a prosperous way of life.  At that time, the late 1800’s, the landscape was farmland for as far as the eye could see.  


The history of the land runs deep at this 12-acre farm.  The Callan’s fondly remember the generations of their family that were born in the farm house that still stands at 153 Everett Road.  A collection of arrowheads is prominently featured in the home to this day as a fascinating reminder of the Lenape history of the area.  In fact, Everett Road, now a well-travelled thoroughfare, began as a Lenape Indian trail.  The family has found multitudes of clam and oyster shells once gathered by Native Americans at the shore to be enjoyed along the trail and then tossed into the soil that would one day become the fertile farm fields of the Callan homestead, once known as Tare Away Farm.

However, the history of the farm is an increasingly distant part of the past now that the majority of farms in Holmdel have long since turned into residential or commercial developments.  After WWII, one farm after another disappeared from the landscape to make way for streets, neighborhoods, and stores.  Yet, this will not be the fate of the Callan Family Farm.  Standing like a last remembrance of the areas agrarian past, the Callan’s knew they could never bear to see the land turn into another housing development and made the decision to permanently protect the land from development.  


Margie and George Callan contacted Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF) to inquire about preserving the farm.  After many wonderful years of living on the farm, their wish was to see it preserved.  After Margie’s passing in 2017, it became more important than ever to ensure the farm remained forever as a legacy to the Callan Family.  That’s when MCF stepped in to bring the vision of preservation to reality by engaging funding partners and managing the due diligence work involved.

On August 2, 2018, Monmouth County permanently preserved the Callan propertyensuring the land will always remain as a farm.  Monmouth Conservation Foundation provided technical assistance to facilitate the preservation of the land, while Holmdel Township, The Friends of Holmdel Open Space, and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) were financial partners with Monmouth County on the preservation purchase. 

Forever Green at Nevergreen Farm - A Family Dedicated to Keeping Their Farmland Preserved Forever!

“While we try and teach our children all about life, the farm teaches us what life’s all about.”

- Angela Schwindt (Home Schooling Mom)

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At Nevergreen Farm in Howell Township, farming is a family affair, so there is no surprise that the farm is run by two generations of the family.  The beautiful rolling landscape of Nevergreen Farm is dedicated towards the purchase, development, training and sales of both domestic and imported horses with a focus on Hunter and Equitation styles of riding.  Barbara, a US Equestrian Federation Judge, husband Brad, and their children Laura and Brian, work together to keep the farm running smoothly.  Brian’s well known success as a rider and trainer was spotlighted in a recent article in Sidelines News

The family purchased the 22-acre farm on Casino Drive nearly ten years ago when their equestrian farm business needed more acreage to grow.  The family made the decision to preserve the farm in March 2018, ensuring it will always remain a thriving part of the agricultural community.  Yet again, they expanded their operation by purchasing a neighboring 43-acre farm, previously permanently preserved through the New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program.

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Within moments of walking through the barn door, it is apparent that the horses are not the only ones to call the farm home.  Everyone here is family. Through the farm’s lesson programs, riders come to learn and sharpen riding skills, but leave with so much more – confidence, responsibility, patience and humility.  Equestrians, young and old, are given the opportunity to connect with these magnificent four-legged creatures, who have the ability to open hearts and feed souls.  Horses teach people about life and themselves, and most importantly, to get back up whenever you fall. 

Possibly unbeknownst to them, riders are gifted with the opportunity to experience and appreciate what is left of Monmouth County’s scarce remaining rural landscape.  The importance of lush green open pastures, the serenity of the woods, getting dirt under your fingernails and even the scent from fertilizing crops with horse manure. The preservation of this farm not only supports the rich agricultural history of our County, but also our deeply rooted equine heritage.

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Monmouth Conservation Foundation is proud to have preserved Nevergreen Farm through funds provided by the State Agriculture Development Committee, the County of Monmouth and Howell Township.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation Helps to Bring Allentown a New Park

Allentown, New Jersey – Monmouth Conservation Foundation announces the purchase of 2.5 acres of land that will be transformed into Allentown’s newest park.  The Borough of Allentown, County of Monmouth, and Monmouth Conservation Foundation partnered in the $250,000 purchase price.  

Nestled amongst the vast open spaces and fertile farmland is the charming, historic Borough of Allentown, an enchanting village to stumble upon for friends and strangers alike.  Although surrounded by open spaces and farmland, the Borough is nearly built out.  Pressures from surrounding towns continue to threaten the character of the Borough, which is deeply cherished by residents.  The 2.5 acre pocket of land was at risk of being lost forever to seven residential homes. 

Allentown, a treasure trove of American history, first home to Lenape Indians, became a market village for the surrounding agricultural areas after being settled by Quakers.  A central location for militia during the American Revolution, the village provided goods and services to the war effort.  Its strategic location also played an important role in the Underground Railroad. 

Today, a stroll down Main Street, dotted with quaint shops, raisesfeelings of nostalgia.  Unbeknownst to many who frequent the charismatic village, a rare, hidden gem, sat nestled in the heart of the village, a short distance from Main Street.  The parcel of land sat frozen in time, beholden to the history and the remaining natural resources of the village. Now that the land has been acquired by the Borough, it will become a place for passive recreation for residents and visitors to enjoy. 

Allentown recognized the open space and historical importance of this rare property and was determined to transform the site into a park with assistance from the Monmouth Conservation Foundation and Monmouth County through their Municipal Open Space Grant Program.  The Borough’s vision ensures that the property, one of the last large remaining tracts of land, will remain as it is and offer passive recreational opportunities.

This “pocket park”, within walking distance from all corners of this unique rural village, will offer members of the community and its visitors a place to visit frequently, as you would a friend, to intimately connect with nature and the history of the village of Allentown - forever. 

Monmouth Conservation Foundation, founded in 1977 by Michael Huber and Judith Stanley-Coleman as a 501(c)(3), is an accredited land trust dedicated to preserving open space and farmland in Monmouth County.  For the past 40 years the organization has been steadfast in saving land, creating parks, preserving ecosystems, and protecting the wildlife for your enjoyment and that of future generations.

For more information please visit or call Monmouth Conservation Foundation at 732.671.7000.  Please “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter and Instagram.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation Leads Efforts to Preserve Conover’s Christmas Tree Farm

Wall Township – The Christmas season may have come and gone, but we have another reason to celebrate Christmas – trees specifically – this spring. 

The Conover homestead, circa 1843, encompassed most of Wall Township’s Hurley Pond Road at one time.  As the Conover Family expanded, smaller farm parcels were given to children to begin their own families.  When John Conover Sr. began farming his 14-acre farmstead, the neighborhood was still predominately farmland.  Over the years, the area around the Farm continued to develop and his Farm became an oasis, a hidden treasure nestled amongst a sea of development.  

Almost 50 years ago, John Sr. made the decision to begin growing Christmas Trees.  Today the Farm is home to over 3,000 beautiful Trees which require regular, hand tailored shearing.  Each Christmas season, new and long withstanding family traditions bring families to the Farm to select and cut their perfect Christmas Tree.   

In the early 90’s John Conover Jr. took over the business from his father and continues to run the business on the Farm that he grew up on.  Having called this area home since the 1840’s, the family fondly recalls many stories that have been passed down through the generations.  Local mobsters escapades, tall tales of prohibition, the Hindenburg casting its shadow over the Farm on route to Lakehurst that historic day and Calvary ammunition dating back to the Revolutionary War found in the Farm’s soil are just a few of the family tales that connect to the historical context of the area.  The land with its fertile soil and rich history, cannot authenticate these stories, but the family’s decisions to preserve the Farm will ensure that the land will remain in perpetuity as a haven to the stories of the past, present and future.  

The Foundation led the efforts to preserve Conover’s Christmas Tree Farm, working collaboratively with the State Agriculture Development Committee, Township of Wall and the Monmouth County Agriculture Development Board, all of whom contributed to the $242,630 cost to purchase the development rights to the 14 acre Farm.  

In 2014, preservation partners preserved the 35-acre Conover Farm adjacent to the Christmas Tree Farm, once also part of the larger Conover homestead.  With few remaining farms in Wall Township, the preservation of these 49-acres in total ensures the land will forever be available for farming and preserves the Township’s farming heritage.  Each additional acre of preserved farmland further protects the quality of life in Monmouth County and sustains the environmental integrity of the area.  

For more information on the Christmas Tree Farm located at 3105 Hurley Pond Road in Wall Township, visit their website at  Be sure to mark your calendars for the first Saturday in November to reserve your tree.  Trees can be cut and purchased beginning on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

Monmouth Conservation Foundation, founded in 1977 by Michael Huber and Judith Stanley-Coleman as a 501(c)(3), is an accredited land trust dedicated to preserving open space and farmland in Monmouth County.  For the past 39 years the organization has been steadfast in saving land, creating parks, preserving ecosystems, and protecting the wildlife for your enjoyment and that of future generations.

For more information please visit or call Monmouth Conservation Foundation at 732.671.7000.  Please “like” us on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter and Instagram.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation Brings You a New County Park

The Monmouth Conservation Foundation is pleased to announce the preservation of a 14-acre waterfront site to become Monmouth County’s newest Park

 Middletown - Over a decade ago, the Monmouth Conservation Foundation began working to preserve Chris’ River Plaza Marina, located on West Front Street in the River Plaza section of Middletown. After many years of complex negotiations, MCF is happy to announce that the well-known site will soon be acquired and ultimately transformed into a new Monmouth County Park, called the Swimming River Park, that will be within walking distance to many Red Bank and Middletown residents.

 Chris’ River Plaza Marina has been a local landmark to the River Plaza section of Middletown and has long served as a de-facto park for local residents and small boat enthusiasts.  Locals often reminisce about using the site to watch Red Bank’s once famous Fourth of July fireworks, families launched small watercraft, canoes or kayaks to enjoy a day on the river in the summer months, and in the winter children spent their school snow days, snow sledding on the steep river bank.

Judith Stanley-Coleman, co-founder and long-time president of the Foundation, envisioned the property as an opportunity to bring open space and water amenities to an otherwise underserved neighborhood.  With a potential to yield twenty plus townhomes, West Front Street, an already busy thoroughfare leading into the Borough of Red Bank, would have become even more congested with the additional traffic that increased infrastructure would bring.

The long-time vision of the Foundation only became a reality when the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders agreed to purchase the property as an addition to the Monmouth County Park System’s Swimming River Greenway. “The preservation of this property is an important location and rare opportunity to purchase a park that will be particularly accessible by bike and foot to many Monmouth County residents,” remarked Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, Freeholder liaison to the Monmouth County Parks System and member of the Monmouth Conservation Foundation Advisory Council.

 The Monmouth County Park System and MCF partnered to purchase the land for $3,810,000.  MCF contributed $200,000 towards the project including a $100,000 Green Acres grant to the Foundation.  “This was a collaborative effort between the County of Monmouth and the Monmouth Conservation Foundation.  This couldn’t have been accomplished without this partnership between non-profit and government entities,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone.

The property is situated at the confluence of the Navesink and Swimming Rivers. The upstream component of the Swimming River, has a Category 1 designation to prevent water quality degradation and discourages development where it would impair or destroy natural resources and water quality, and flows into the County’s critical water resource, the Swimming River Reservoir.  The waterways and their wetlands create habitat for native and endangered marine, estuarine, avian and insect species forced by development into scarce remaining open space, water, and coastlands.  Permanent protection of the site ensures that the natural habitat are better protected, allowing them to also be enjoyed by the community.

The property will need to undergo significant environmental clean-up and restoration.  Once completed within two to three years, this property will become the site of a newest County park providing passive waterfront recreational opportunities – complete with parking (including boat trailers), and improved boat launch ramp and sledding hill – for the public to enjoy. Other amenities are planned as well. For the time being, and until the site work begins, the County plans to continue to allow boat launching.  Hours and ramp fees are posted on the Park System’s web site at

Monmouth Conservation Foundation, founded in 1977 by Michael Huber and Judith Stanley-Coleman as a 501(c)(3), is an accredited land trust dedicated to preserving open space and farmland in Monmouth County.

MCF has directly preserved more than 6,500 acres while collaboratively preserving 16,000 acres throughout Monmouth County. MCF remains steadfast in its mission of saving invaluable farmland and open space, protecting waterways, preserving ecosystems, creating and/or extending parks and greenways for the past 38 years.

Monmouth Conservation Foundation and Monmouth County Park System Partner to Expand New County Park

30 acres purchased in Marlboro Township adding to Freneau Woods Park.

Marlboro and Aberdeen Townships Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF) announces the acquisition of a 30 acre parcel.  The piece is the last in a set of properties acquired in furtherance of a new Monmouth County regional park called Freneau Woods Park.  The property was purchased as a collaborative effort by the Monmouth County Park System and the Monmouth Conservation Foundation.  To date, 154 acres have been purchased, being acquired like pieces of a puzzle, that with future acquisitions will one day become a 250-acre regional County Park.

The property was funded collaboratively by MCF and the County of Monmouth.  MCF contributed $200,000 of the total purchase price of approximately $1.4 million, $100,000 of which is Green Acres funding awarded to MCF.

Located at the headwaters of Matawan Creek, including Lake Lefferts, this and surrounding properties are rich in both environmental and historical importance.  Local non-profits and government officials have long touted the importance of protecting the land that surrounds this unique coastal wetland that also provides a habitat for a diverse set of local species.  Keeping the headwaters safe from development is vital to the future water quality.

“MCF is proud to have facilitated this acquisition and its recent predecessor for Monmouth County and to have provided funding toward both these magnificent and ecologically significant additions to Freneau Woods Park.” Said MCF’s Executive Director, Bill Kastning.

During the American Revolutionary period, the land was part of a larger area owned by the Freneau family.  Freneau was an influential poet and newspaper writer whose works were clearly influenced by the natural beauty of the area.  In the July 4, 1795 edition of the Jersey Chronicle newspaper Freneau remarks, “I frequently walk into the fields over the cultivated farms and through the little forests that lay beyond the two rivers…What most of all disgusts me in these excursions is that men seem too much to have strayed from the grand simplicity of Nature…”

Monmouth Conservation Foundation, founded in 1977 by Michael Huber and Judith Stanley-Coleman as a 501(c)(3), is an accredited land trust dedicated to preserving open space and farmland in Monmouth County.  Monmouth Conservation Foundation has directly preserved more than 6,500 acres while collaboratively preserving 16,000 acres throughout Monmouth County.  MCF has been steadfast in saving invaluable farmland and open space, protecting waterways, preserving ecosystems, creating and/or extending parks and greenways for the past 38 years.

The Stone Foundation of New Jersey renews its support of Springwood Avenue Park

The Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF) is deeply grateful to receive a renewal grant of $15,000 awarded by The Stone Foundation of New Jersey for the advancement of MCF’s Springwood Avenue Park project.

This timely and generous grant helps MCF to achieve the Board of Directors matching challenge grant of $25,000, and helps MCF meet the project’s fundraising goal of $150,000.

In making the grant, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey expressed “…enthusiasm for MCF’s move into the vital world of urban greening and open-space access in underserved areas of Monmouth County. It is a testament to our belief in the importance of this kind of work as part of the conservation portfolio.”

In partnership with Monmouth County, the City of Asbury Park, and Interfaith Neighbors, Monmouth Conservation Foundation is participating in the groundwork for a 1.3-acre park within the 16-block Springwood Avenue Redevelopment Area. The park will include a playground, courtyard, walking path, civic plaza, and recreational lawn panel. It also will feature an amphitheater and raised stage area, with a mural panel, for outdoor performances.

Springwood Avenue Park will be the first City-owned and City-maintained park ever established on the West Side of Asbury Park. A key goal of Springwood Avenue Park is to help spur development of vacant parcels in the Springwood Avenue Redevelopment Area. This grant awarded by The Stone Foundation of New Jersey is a major contribution to helping MCF and our partners achieve this long-term vision for this neighborhood.

triCityNews/ Monmouth's News & Arts Weekly: PUBLISHER'S MESSAGE

A must-go social event: Monmouth Conservation Foundation fundraiser for Asbury’s Springwood


Here’s a great sign of the growing cohesiveness and shared values of the triCity region of eastern Monmouth County.

It’s the new activism in Asbury Park of the once old-money Monmouth Conservation Foundation [MCF]. The group has committed to provide at least $150,000 toward the development of the Springwood Avenue Park in Asbury’s West Side.

The needs of urban areas are a new priority for MCF, and one which its board has enthusiastically embraced. This is indeed unity of progressive thought in our region. And you can be a part of the action by attending MCF’s annual fundraiser for the Springwood Park at Talula’s on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park on Sunday, May 3 at 6 p.m.

The fundraiser is billed as “Pizza and Pasta for a Purpose”, and Talula’s is one of this newspaper’s favorite places to write about. Tickets are $60 per person and children under 12 are $25. Visit the MCF website to reserve tickets at, and then click on events and then click Springwood Park. Or call MCF at 732-671-7000.

Last year’s MCF event for the Springwood Park at Porta — another triCity favorite — was shockingly well attended. Attendees were not your usual suspects at an Asbury Park fundraiser, but they were enthusiastic and positive about being here. It’s a great thing, as this is an organization with many connections in government and the private sector. Asbury now gets the benefit of that reach.

The Monmouth Conservation Foundation was founded about four decades ago by the late Judith Stanley, among the most prominent of local Republican royalty who lived in a spectacular mansion on the Navesink River off Navesink River Road. Cofounder was the late Michael Huber of Middletown, a gem of a philanthropist who was close with influential environmentalists of his generation. [The late Dery Bennett of the American Littoral Society — one of my role models — always spoke exceptionally well of Mike Huber.]

Since its founding in 1977, the MCF has done wonderful work in preserving tens of thousands of acres of open space in Monmouth County. Fun fact: This Publisher was on the board of trustees in my late twenties about twenty-five years ago.

Most of MCF’s work, however, was in blue-blooded horse country. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Such land was the most threatened, and you see the tragic results of overdevelopment in once beautiful places like Middletown, Holmdel, and Colts Neck. Hell, even Marlboro and Manalapan were, once up on a time, beautiful open land. All this didn’t have to go down exactly as it did — it’s a result of decades of political bullshit — and at times outright corruption — from influential development interests getting their way at the state and local levels. But I digress. The leadership and trustees of MCF have been a varied lot — like the Publisher of this wacko alternative weekly newspaper — but we’ve all had a strong commitment to open space preservation, and a willingness to fight the good fight against powerful developers.

But it’s time to direct part of MCF’s focus and resources to serving those in challenged urban neighborhoods who need open space — specifically, attractive and safe parks — as much, if not more, than the rest of the county needs open space in their towns.

MCF Executive Director Bill Kastning said that beyond the $150,000 committed to be provided by his organization, there’s a shortfall in available funds to do a remaining $100,000 worth of landscaping.

“We are now reaching out to nurseries and growers in Monmouth County and elsewhere, primarily those whose farmlands have been preserved through the use of state, county and nonprofit t moneys,” Kastning said. “We are hopeful through our outreach efforts to achieve the in-kind donations and thereby eliminate the remaining shortfall identified by the city.”

Lisa McKean, MCF’s Managing Director for marketing and development, said the new stress on urban areas is very much in the vision of MCF cofounder Mike Huber. [MCF is also working on a project at Chris’ Landing in Red Bank, she said.]

“Caroline Huber is a close, wonderful family friend of mine,” said McKean. “Caroline’s husband, Mike Huber, was co-founder of MCF in 1977. Caroline went to a meeting with Bill and me last week to hear more about Springwood. The meeting included Paul McEvily of Interfaith Neighbors. Caroline was very impressed with the Springwood Park project and plans for Asbury Park, overall.”

“Subsequent to that meeting, I had dinner with Caroline...she explained to me how she knows that these kinds of recent initiatives that MCF is pursuing are very much in line with what Mike had in mind when founding MCF,” McKean said.

“According to Caroline, the vision which Mike had for MCF included related projects in underserved areas where MCF could aid in creating pockets of open space and green...such as in the West Side of Asbury. [These projects are] for those who cannot readily access the parks and space MCF is also preserving in more traditional areas. It is about an even greater good,” she said.

McKean said the Springwood Avenue project is a turning point in the history of MCF.  “The MCF board, until Springwood, did not actively pursue such projects, but they are realizing how important it is to broaden the scope of MCF’s work and are more willing to explore appropriate opportunities attached to social causes – in keeping with Mike Huber’s overall vision,” she said.