The Oldmans Creek Preserve in Auburn, Salem County, has just grown by 30 acres! The adjacent property, previously owned by the Homan-Mattson family since as far back as the 1850s, is now a part of the Preserve.
This Preserve lies along the Oldmans Creek, which is the boundary between Gloucester and Salem Counties. The expansion consists of a mix of farmland and forested upland and wetlands and includes a ravine with streams that feed into the Oldman’s Creek.
The 30-acre Homan property was permanently preserved on March 9, 2021 as public open space and wildlife habitat by a partnership of South Jersey Land and Water Trust (SJLWT), the state Green Acres Program and the NJ Office of Natural Resources Restoration, with funding totaling $378,700. The property will provide additional habitat for the region’s native and migratory bird populations as well as supporting other native wildlife, and it will help to protect the water quality of the Oldmans Creek.
The Homans worked with SJLWT and partners for the past three years to enable this portion of the family farm to become a part of the Oldman’s Creek Preserve, expanding from its original 38 acres to a 70-acre Preserve.
As Ralph Homan explained, “My mother, Eleanor F. Homan (née Mattson) was the youngest of 9 children of Frank A. and Florence A. Mattson. The Mattson’s were crop/vegetable farmers on the land. My memories of the farm was always of growing asparagus (40 + years ago) that was cut by hand and gathered by horse or mule and a single wagon and returned to the farm for cutting and
bunching and packing. I was told that when my great grandfather operated the farm, produce was transported to the Oldmans Creek and placed on barges on the property that could carry it to the Delaware River and across, but in my day the produce was transported to Swedesboro to the “Produce Auction.”
“SJLWT is deeply grateful to the Homans for their support of our preservation efforts and for their family’s appreciation and care of the land over the many decades of their ownership,” said Christine Nolan, Executive Director of SJLWT. “This beautiful property will be a wonderful place to walk and observe nature. We are also very grateful to our partners for making the permanent preservation of this land possible.”
The Oldman’s Creek Preserve provides multiple opportunities for public use and education, including
public boating access to Oldman’s Creek with a boat landing, dock, and significant stream frontage;
public nature and hiking trails;
protection of the natural scenic character of the creek and the town of Auburn;
preservation of the historic circa 1790 home and historic Boy Scouts of America Camp Kimble history of the site.
It also preserves significant deciduous forest habitat with many mature oaks and beech trees providing valuable songbird habitat, and is part of the enhancement of a larger Oldman’s Creek Greenway effort to protect contiguous properties along the creek. Located within the large farming region of the Delaware Bay Watershed, the property is in close proximity to preserved farmland as well as prime agricultural lands ripe for preservation. As such, it will serve to establish a preservation foothold in a significantly threatened locale of the Oldman’s Creek Watershed and Raccoon-Oldmans watershed Farm Belt.
(This photo shows approximately 20 acres of the preserved agricultural portion with the remaining 10 acres of forested land in the background. The Oldmans Creek Property meets on the right hand side of the photograph.) The Oldmans Creek Preserve and its new addition are owned and managed by the South Jersey Land & Water Trust which is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout southern New Jersey for the benefit of all. For more information about South Jersey Land & Water Trust and its programs and preserves, visit www.sjlandwater.org