This holiday season we at D&R Greenway Land Trust are giving thanks to all the businesses who support the work we do, preserving 19,000 acres of land — that’s more than 20 New York City Central Parks in central New Jersey and beyond.

These businesses support our preservation work not just for the recognition they get, but for the impact on their bottom line. Green space builds wealth, according to a recent report of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Preserved land boosts regional property values, and protected open space creates jobs in agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and land management.

D&R Greenway’s business partners in preservation make it possible to look toward a sustainable future. Not only do native birds, plants and pollinators thrive as a result of the work we do, but so do businesses. From banks and pharmaceutical firms to local food markets, sporting good equipment stores and spas, businesses thrive in communities surrounded by meadows, trees and wildlife.

Businesses are interested in investing in healthy livable communities for their clients and employees, and this is why Church & Dwight supports us through its employee giving program. Bristol-Myers Squibb works with us to hold a Community Engagement Day, volunteering to help with stewardship because they know this is how to create healthy places to walk. Businesses like Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and REI support us because we preserve trails where their customers can walk, literally in their shoes.

One reason Brick Farm Market can thrive in Hopewell is because of the pasture land we have preserved. And farmers markets in the region are thriving because we make it possible to have land where healthy food can be grown.

Investors Bank Foundation and Roma Bank Foundation each donated $6,000 to the Capital City Farm in Trenton in July, recognizing the importance of this collaboration between D&R Greenway Land Trust, Mercer County, the City of Trenton, Isles, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Escher Street SRO, the East Trenton Collaborative, and the Rescue Mission of Trenton to the economic vitality of the city. Sandy S. Broughton, vice president, Investors Bank, was delighted to support this project. “Projects like this are a critical way for us to serve so many of our neighbors in need,” he said. The farm will offer education and employment opportunities.

Also in the summer Metropolis Spa and Salon selected D&R Greenway as the beneficiary of its new eco initiative. Evan di Paola of the salon was excited to launch a new green initiative through D&R Greenway because he knew our supporters were the audience he wanted to reach.

Architect and real estate developer J. Robert Hillier is sensitive to setting aside land for preservation and appreciates the work of D&R Greenway, seeking a balance of preserved lands and development. We helped him negotiate a reasonable return on investment while preserving Coventry Farm. Bob Hillier worked with D&R Greenway on several other properties, putting part of it into conservation — a model he espouses.

Wade Martin from Morgan Stanley has worked with us on numerous preservations, helping landowners understand how selling preservation rights make good business sense. The landowner is better off preserving, getting tax deductions, than selling to developers and paying taxes. Doing the numbers, they get to keep their land and their view, knowing they are working for the good of the environment. Wade Martin and Morgan Stanley teach clients to think holistically. And thinking holistically, businesses are now realizing the old model of doing it for conservation’s sake has been replaced by one of doing this for business’ sake.

Ever since the 1990s, it’s been acknowledged that the annual output of nature is upwards of $33 trillion. Nature is an ideal business partner: a coral reef, for example, can do the work of nurturing fish more economically than a fish farm, and it’s pretty to look at as well. The needs of our children, exposed to nature, has great value to business.

Linda Mead is president & CEO of the D&R Greenway Land Trust.

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