Paws Discovery Farm opens to public after months of renovations and improvements

Since Garden State Discovery Museum started managing the facility, Paws has undergone numerous improvements to its buildings and grounds.

It’s a new beginning at Paws Discovery Farm, formerly known for decades by locals as PAWS Farm Nature Center.

After several months of renovations from Garden State Discovery Museum, the new manager of the facility, Paws officially reopened to the public on March 1, just in time for time for the upcoming spring season.

In December, Mt. Laurel Township finalized a three-year partnership with the museum, through which the township would maintain ownership of Paws while turning over all other aspects of facility management to Garden State.

In the weeks and months since, the museum began to “polish” what township officials often refer to as the “gem of Mt. Laurel,” with remodeling work to Paws’ front building, exhibit improvements, cleaning trails and even adding a nature and toy store to the facility.

The museum is also in the process of renovating the farmhouse to offer improved animal galleries and build new animal enclosures, and within the next few weeks, Garden State plans to begin renovations on the facility’s well-known barn.

Kelly Lyons, director for the Garden State Discovery Museum, said Paws Discovery Farm and its nine acres simply needed some improvements that have been missing from the facility in recent years.

“The difference between before and now is that we poured some real resources into it and museum childhood expertise to enhance the things that were working well here and to give support to the things that needed support,” Lyons said.

With Garden State Discovery Museum, hours at Paws have also been expanded to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Formerly, Paws operated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., only from Wednesday through Sunday.

“We want people to come visit. We want to talk about the founding fathers of South Jersey. We want to talk about the nature that is here, and we want to connect people to that nature,” Lyons said.

Before Paws Discovery Farm and PAWS Farm Nature Center, the land where the facility now sits served as the family homestead for the Darnell family and decedents, who owned the land from the 1700s through part of the last century.

“We are all about keeping the beautiful charm of this facility and celebrating everything that it has to offer,” Lyons said. “History, nature, farm — our goal here is to connect families to the earth.”

According to Lyons, the partnership with Paws also works to benefit Garden State Discovery Museum in its mission to provide children in the area with learning opportunities, whether indoors or outside.

“It really helped expand the opportunities we offer families,” Lyons said. “It was a very complementary facility to our own without competing with it.”

General admission to Paws for those who live outside of town is $10, with a $9 price for grandparents. Mt. Laurel residents can pay a reduced price of $6. Children under 1 are free.

For more information or to learn about booking birthday parties or other events at Paws, visit pawsdiscoveryfarm.com.