Things to Do in New Jersey: Duke Farms in Hillsborough
Duke Farms is an estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey that stands as a model of environmental stewardship and aims to inspire visitors to learn more about the conservation of land. Established in 1893 by American entrepreneur James Buchanan Duke, founder of the American Tobacco Company, Duke Farms was opened to the public in 2012 and is managed by the Doris Duke Foundation. Dukes Farms
Duke Farms was founded in 1893 by James ‘Buck’ Buchanan Duke who bought land next to the Raritan River in rural New Jersey with the vision of creating a farm similar to those in North Carolina where he grew up. Over time, he gathered over 2,700 acres of farm and woodlands that featured nine lakes, 18 miles of roads, and 45 buildings, and after his death in 1925, his daughter gained control of the property and introduced new, eco-friendly farming methods. A unique botanical display was created in the Horace Trumbauer conservatory which became known as the Duke Gardens. The Duke Farms Gardens were opened to the public in 1964, and the Duke Farms Foundation (DFF) was established to manage the gardens in 1998.
The mission of Duke Farms is to provide a place of education and research that enhances the environmental health of the region. The farm offers a beautiful natural setting in which to explore the diversity of the area’s wildlife and promotes sustainable farming through a variety of educational programs, demonstrations, and research. Photo: Dukes Farms
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Duke Farms feature a variety of gardens that were developed over the years, including eco-friendly indoor and outdoor display gardens using native and endemic plants, as well as two champion trees, a Great Oak and an Amur Cork. The garden is also home to renovated and energy-efficient greenhouses known as the Orchid Range, and the farm’s Farm Barn was renovated to become the Orientation Center.
Duke Farms offers a variety of educational programs and special event opportunities throughout the year for all ages from classes about stewardship and cultivating a stronger connection with nature to seasonal, weekly farm markets and four annual festivals. Educational programs include Habitat Restoration, Agro-Ecology, Sustainability, and Eagle Cam.
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The Habitat Restoration program aims to restore healthy, ecologically functioning systems, and educate and inspire visitors about stewardship and developing a strong conservation ethic, while the purpose of the Agro-Ecology Program is to demonstrate sustainable and wildlife-friendly farming operations. This is done through extensive wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration and the use of programs such as an organic community garden program, and a new farmers training program, which promotes green building practices.
Duke Farms promotes sustainability through ecologically designed buildings and landscapes that reduce pollution and waste and provide minimal demands on non-renewable energy resource, thus creating healthier indoor and outdoor environments.
The Eagle Cam was installed in 2008 and provides an inside look at the daily lives of the bald eagles that call the farm home. The project was established in partnership with The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and provides educational programs and educational opportunities for learners of all ages. Photo: Dukes Farms
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Duke Farms Gardens are located at 1112 Dukes Parkway West in Hillsborough and is open to the public, daily from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, except on Wednesdays. A former thoroughbred horse barn has been renovated and refurbished to house the Farm’s new orientation center, which features an array of educational exhibits, a classroom for students and learners and a friendly, welcoming café. The Farm also provides transportation to different places on the 900-acre farm, including the walking and biking trails, and more than four miles of paved wheelchair-accessible lanes.
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Address: 1112 Dukes Parkway West Hillsborough, N.J. 08844, website, Phone: 908-722-3700 Photo: Dukes Farms
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Things to Do in New Jersey: Duke Farms in Hillsborough
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