Mission and Land
Duke Farms is a 2,700-acre environmental center in Hillsborough, N.J. that aims to inspire people to become guardians of the planet, and to be a free, inclusive, accessible resource for helping everyone find their place in nature. It is also a haven for wildlife, with more than 30 species which are threatened, endangered or of special concern and 247 varieties of birds, including a family of bald eagles that annually returns to nest. This natural oasis is situated on part of the traditional territory of the Lenape people, whom Duke Farms honors and acknowledges as it cares for the land. Nestled in the northern piedmont, a fertile landscape that extends from New York to Alabama, Duke Farms also includes a four-mile stretch of the Raritan River, the largest river system entirely within the state of New Jersey.
A Place for Learning and Fun
With more than 1,000 acres open to the public for self-discovery, outdoor activities and education, Duke Farms offers countless ways to connect with nature. Visitors can access more than 18 miles of walking trails and 12 miles of bicycle trails; attend free workshops and events to learn more about climate change and wildlife conservation; volunteer to join in habitat restoration projects; eat at the locally sourced café; sign up for a plot in the wheel-chair-accessible community garden; and support local farmers at the seasonal market. It is also an excellent field trip destination for students of all ages and provides a wide range of resources for educators – from teaching materials to professional development. A true sanctuary centered in the most populous state in the U.S., Duke Farms seeks to draw visitors from cities and towns across the region and to cultivate their appreciation and stewardship of the beauty to be found in their own backyard.
A Model for Stewardship
The leadership and staff of Duke Farms work hard to preserve and restore the health and ecological functioning of habitats within its acreage and to make its buildings models for environmentally friendly design. For its efforts toward the latter goal, Duke Farms has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification. Both its Orientation Center and Orchid Range serve as examples of structures that have been revamped from their original purposes and redesigned to use sustainable energy for heating, cooling, lighting and water conservation. Duke Farms also features a 640-killowatt solar array that entirely supplies its power and offers electrical charging stations for visitor vehicles in its parking lot. Additionally, Duke Farms engages in partnerships with local universities to conduct ecological research on the property.
History and Operations
Duke Farms was formerly one of Doris Duke’s seasonal residences, which she inherited from her father, James Buchanan Duke, who endowed Duke University and founded Duke Power and the American Tobacco Company. In accordance with the directives in Doris Duke’s will, Duke Farms first opened to the public in May 2012 with a mission to promote conservation of wildlife. It is operated by the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF) and shares the same board of trustees, president and CEO, and shared services teams. While Duke Farms and DDF’s New York-based Environment Program share overlapping missions and sometimes collaborate, Duke Farms and this grantmaking program consist of separate teams in different locations. To learn more about Duke Farms and experience all it has to offer, visit www.dukefarms.org.