The Celery Farm's Ecosystem

Super Science Saturday

Super Science Saturday is an annual event held on the first Saturday of March at the High School in Ridgewood, NJ that features all manner of science exhibits. Mike LeFebvre and Lee Stoeski represented the Fyke Nature Association in 2024. In addition to the regular Fyke Celery Farm brochure, the following handout was distributed.

The Celery Farm's Ecosystem

The Celery Farm stopped being a farm in the 1950s, and since the 1980s, it has been a publicly accessible nature preserve with a wetland ecosystem. Wetlands are extremely biodiverse- which means they have a larger range of different plant and animal species than some other ecosystems, like forests or deserts. In a wetland, you can find aquatic, semi-aquatic, and terrestrial species all living in the same place.

Right now, about 19% of New Jersey is made up of wetlands. This seems like a high number, but estimates say that about 40% of New Jersey's wetlands have already been drained, paved, and used as land for housing, businesses, or factories. Nature preserves like the Celery Farm work to keep our remaining wetlands safe and healthy, so that animals, plants, and people can all enjoy them.

How Do Ecosystems Work?

Ecosystems are made up of relationships. Everything depends on everything else. The Celery Farm is 107 acres, and has a large lake, two ponds, marshes, meadows, and forests. With so many different habitats in one place, we see a wide variety of species living together. 248 species of birds have been recorded at the Celery Farm, from common birds like sparrows and robins, to unusual wetland birds like the 4.5 foot tall great blue heron, which stands on one leg in shallow water and patiently, carefully hunts fish with its long and spear-like beak.

While a robin can live in a backyard, many specialized animals can't. A heron can't nest on your garage or eat from a bird feeder. Its 6.5 foot wingspan is so large that it can't even fly through a dense forest. It needs to nest in trees at the water's edge, so it can glide up to the top without getting stuck in the branches. Herons need the wetlands-and the wetlands need them, too.

Without the lake, there are no fish for the heron to eat; without insects and aquatic plants, there is no food for the fish; without herons eating the fish, the fish would eat all of the acquatic plants until there were none left. Nothing in an ecosystem has just one role: the insects that the fish eat are also pollinators, and without them, there would be no trees, bushes, or flowers.

Helping Our Ecosystems

Everyone can help our ecosystems. At the Celery Farm, we keep the wetland ecosystem healthy by providing nesting boxes for native birds and bats, removing invasive plants, replacing them with native plants, and protecting an area with a deer exclosure. This year, we are planting a new Pollinator Meadow for endangered native butterflies and bees.

You can start helping native species at home, too. Everywhere that native species can connect to other native species-like monarch butterflies enjoying the butterfly milkweed you can plant in your garden-the web of our ecosystem is strengthened. Every connection matters.

Please visit us at and at 500 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale, NJ!