Wild Ridge Plants, owned and operated by Rachel Mackow and Jared Rosenbaum, has been certified as a River-Friendly Farm. Wild Ridge is located on a ridgetop, at the top of the Pohatcong watershed. Kara Hasko, Natural Resource Specialist with North Jersey RC&D, presented the River-Friendly Certified Farm sign to Rachel Mackow and Jared Rosenbaum at Wild Ridge Plants in Alpha on June 26.
“We strive to farm with nature at our nursery. We grow native plants that are acclimated to the region from locally collected seeds. We farm as naturally as possible to benefit the plants we grow, the health of the wildlife that rely on them, and to support the soil that nourishes the whole system. We feel that the River-Friendly Farm program melds extremely well with our mission and what we are already doing here on the farm. We’re really happy to be certified!”
This family-owned nursery is dedicated to the cultivation of regionally native plant species. Wild Ridge Plants also provides educational programming on native plants and consulting services for meadow and forest restoration. A significant part of their work is offering programming about the importance of native plants for wildlife and people. Jared Rosenbaum wrote and published a children’s book, “The Puddle Garden”, to introduce this topic to young children. Wild Ridge Plants’ mission brought them to seek River-Friendly Farm certification because of their deep belief in the health and well-being of the environment.
Wild Ridge Plants has been working toward River-Friendly Farm certification since the beginning of 2017. They work regularly with North Jersey RC&D’s partner organization, the Musconetcong Watershed Association and began working with RC&D last year to improve their already strong stewardship of the nursery property. Of the five acres they own, Jared and Rachel use 1 acre for production, which includes seasonal high tunnels, a forested cove to cultivate shade-tolerant native forest understory plants, a native meadow for pollinators, and cold frames for propagation. The remainder of the land is forested and used for seed collection. Additionally, they cultivate a fruit orchard for personal use. It includes native edible nut and fruit bearing trees and shrubs.
Some best management practices used on the farm are cover cropping, regularly testing soils, extensive pollinator habitat, elimination of herbicides except in limited cases of specific invasive species, and significant buffer areas around beds to reduce soil erosion on the farm. In addition, they use an organic potting mix, amendments, and fertilizer in their nursery operation.
The River-Friendly Farm Certification Program recognizes farms that protect our shared natural resources through responsible land management. The program is voluntary, and farms are eligible to be designated as River-Friendly Certified Farms when they have demonstrated a commitment to protecting soil and water quality and other natural resources. For more information on the program, please contact North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development (NJRC&D) at (908) 574-5368.