After grappling for more than a decade what to do with the late Doris Duke's estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced that Duke Farms, as the property has come to be known, will open to the public on May 19, the New York Times reports.
Duke, the daughter of tobacco tycoon James Buchanan Duke, indicated in her will that she wanted the central New Jersey property to be used to promote conservation. In the nearly twenty years since her death, however, the public has had limited access to the property, which was available to tour groups but only by appointment.
Once open, Duke Farms, which according to the Times is three times the size of Central Park, will be used to teach visitors how to be good stewards of the environment. Visitors to the estate will be able to stop by the orientation center, which is housed in the century-old Farm Barn and includes a café serving local fare; explore a community garden that the foundation has said is the biggest in the country; explore two hundred and fifty acres of farmland that has been made available to aspiring organic farmers; and/or take a gardening class.
In addition to opening the property to the public, the trustees of the foundation will continue to let colleges and universities use it for a range of activities, including an effort to grow a hybrid American chestnut tree that is resistant to the fungus that caused a mass extinction of the species in the early twentieth century. "There [are] so many different objectives in this space," said DDCF board chairman John E. Zuccotti. "I daresay there were plenty of people in the state of New Jersey who said, 'Just give it to us, and we'll make it a park.' This isn't just a park. That's the whole point."