It’s Easy Being Green

The D&R Greenway will show off its new Education Center at ‘Celebrate Open Space.’

By: Ilene Dube
   While many of us were hibernating during the cold winter months, the folks at the D&R Greenway were gearing up for spring. Stewardship associate Emily Goldman was out on Bald Pate Mountain, working with volunteers to build erosion-resistant trails, and staff member Mary Penney was updating the Web site. This comprehensive site offers everything a hiker needs to know to take a walk in the woods: how to prevent deer tick bites; always inform a friend or family member about where you are hiking; drink a quart of water an hour when the temperature tops 90 degrees (heavens to Betsy, that’s like preparation for an ultrasound — there’d better be composting portapotties!); and more.
   The site offers maps to trails in Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset counties, all linked thanks to land preserved through the D&R Greenway, with symbols indicating whether dogs, bicycles, skis or horses are permitted. Let’s say you wanted to walk among the tulip poplars and sycamores in Mercer County, perhaps looking for morels or warblers. You’d click on that county, and all the trails would come up. Another click and you could find out that, for example, the Institute Woods in Princeton is easy, flat, has ample parking and offers everything from 10-minute walks to several hours worth of recreation. There are maps to print out and descriptions of the flora and fauna.
   The New Jersey Trails Association will have a display at Celebrate Open Space at the D&R Greenway’s brand-new Johnson Education Center in Greenway Meadows Park, Princeton, April 30. Tours of the new facility and art exhibits are on the agenda, along with live music and food provided by Mediterra, Cox’s Market and The Bent Spoon.
   Since the D&R Greenway Land Trust was formed in 1989, close to 9,000 acres have been preserved. In 2001, the Greenway, in partnership with Mercer County, Princeton Township and Borough, Friends of Princeton Open Space and private donors, preserved 60 acres off Rosedale Road as Greenway Meadows Park. The newly opened Johnson Education Center is an adaptive re-use of a circa 1900 barn from Archibald Douglas Russell’s 274-acre Edgerstoune Estate (the manor home houses the Hun School of Princeton).
   Most of us know Robert Wood Johnson for all the foundations and hospitals named for the philanthropist. Robert Wood Johnson II, son of one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson, the folks who made a fortune from Band-Aids, lived for a time at Morven, the estate built by the Stockton family of Princeton. Morven subsequently became the governor’s residence, and Robert Wood Johnson II moved to the land that is now Greenway Meadows Park.
   In 1999, heirs to the Johnson property might have sold the land to developers, but the D&R Greenway raised money through private donors to preserve the land, says Jo-Ann Munoz, communications director for the Greenway. (The Johnson house, built in the 1940s, was taken down during the building of the park.) It was the Johnson family who donated the money for the Johnson Education Center.
   The original barn had space for 18 cows, with eight calf pens and a bull pen and standing stalls for 13 work horses. The hay loft could store about 200 tons of hay. Architect Jeremiah Ford III has turned the barn into a modern, multipurpose structure, all the while preserving the barn’s integrity. Original barn beams were kept, and newly added wood is rough-hewn to match the original. Sliding barn doors lead to the offices, built in the old stalls and stables. The new headquarters for the D&R Greenway includes offices for the 11 staff members, meeting rooms, auditoriums, a research library and gallery space to showcase the work of artists who focus on the natural world.
   For its very first exhibit, the Marie L. Matthews Gallery features the photographs of Marie L. Matthews. Ms. Matthews says she has carried a camera with her since she was 14, and later studied photography with Bob Denby at Princeton Day School. When not making photographs, she has served as a trustee for McCarter Theatre, Princeton Day School and Corner House Foundation. Ms. Matthews is offering 100 percent of the sale price of her photographers to the D&R Greenway.
   For this exhibit, Ms. Matthews has photographed daffodils on Pretty Brook Road in Princeton, rhododendrons in Zurich, Switzerland, a hummingbird in Picabo, Idaho, sunrises and sunsets from New Hampshire to Idaho and a tulip magnolia from her own yard. "I have my own garden and I photograph in it," says Ms. Matthews, who also is a figure skater.
   "I love the way the light comes in through the windows (to the gallery)," says D&R Greenway Executive Director Linda Mead. "We want to tie in our conservation program with artists’ work." In the fall, the Princeton Artists Alliance will have a show in the Matthews Gallery, focusing on properties the Greenway has preserved.
   In addition to the Matthews Gallery, there is a children’s gallery curated by artist and teacher Heather Barros, and walls in some of the meeting rooms will be used to hang shows as well. For Celebrate Open Space, photographer Nick Woods from the U.K. will have an exhibit on the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. An antique clock restorer who is trained as a biologist and has a passion for the miniature, Mr. Woods has photographed plants and insects up close and personal – and, apparently, all in one day when he visited the Marsh last spring. Asiatic day flowers, a spine spider, Echinacea and porcelain berry are some examples.
   "I didn’t realized how much the park was used until we moved here," says Ms. Mead.
Celebrate Open Space, showcasing the brand-new Johnson Education Center, will be held at Greenway Meadows Park, 1 Preservation Place (off Rosedale Road), Princeton, April 30, 1-4 p.m. Free admission. To register for children’s art projects, nature walks, story readings and a workshop about tree species, call (609) 924-4646. D&R Greenway Land Trust on the Web: