Why do people care about the Princeton Nursery Lands?
The Nursery Lands lie along the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which is surrounded by the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. Many people from central New Jersey use the D&R Canal tow paths for recreation– jogging, bird watching, bicycling and fishing. The Nursery Lands are part of the landscape, and in a portion of the canal where the state park was only a few feet wider than the canal itself. Preservation of key sections of the Princeton Nursery Lands provided a much needed buffer for the park, as well as a large section of the greenbelt for the historic village of Kingston.
What is the Mapleton Preserve?
Mapleton Preserve contains the historical heart of the Princeton Nurseries lands. In 2005, this 53-acre property was jointly purchased as open space, by the New Jersey Green Acres program and South Brunswick Township. The newly restored main office for Princeton Nurseries’ Kingston site has appropriately now become the D & R Canal State Park Headquarters. An adjacent building is used for interpretive programs. Several other historic buildings dot the grounds, including eight greenhouses.
Sand roadways winding through the Nurseries Lands provide a natural trail network, rich in wildlife and birds. Mapleton Preserve’s location is well situated to create trail connections to both the D & R Canal State Park’s historic towpath and to other open space areas, such as the bird-rich Cook Preserve.
The New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Township of South Brunswick jointly administer Mapleton Preserve. The Mapleton Preserve Commission coordinates oversight of the property. This partnership between the State of New Jersey and South Brunswick Township is charged with “guiding the preservation, improvement, restoration and maintenance of the historical, cultural, natural and scenic resources of the former Princeton Nurseries Kingston Site”, as well as “interpretation for the education and enjoyment of the public.”
The entrance to the Mapleton Preserve is at 145 Mapleton Road in Kingston. If approaching the Preserve from Rt. 27, the entrance is on the left, marked by a wooden sign for the D & R Canal State Park. Entrance is free, and the park is open from sunrise to sunset.