Birding, farming, and walking are popular outdoor activities. Residents on both campuses work on trail and site maintenance. One Medford Leas resident provides maps for court gardens, two others maintain the Nature Library, and in 2013 resident volunteers took over the GIS project. Medford Leas is host to Master Gardeners of Burlington County and to the hives of a local beekeeper.
There are hives on both the Medford and Lumberton campuses. Beekeeper Corey Melissas is the daughter of the late Mickey Gray, a resident of Medford Leas. The photo shows Corey and New Jersey apiary inspector Tim Schuler during an annual inspection. The Apiary Page
has Corey’s blog, photos, and reprints of Medford Leas Life articles about the hives. Ro Wilson, a resident, is the liaison between Corey and Medford Leas.
The group, led by resident Robert Koch, holds monthly meetings, organizes field trips, and provides a yearly January census of birds found on the two campuses.
Birds and bird identification have been of interest to residents of Medford Leas since at least 1973 when articles called “Bird Watchers Notes” began appearing in Medford Leas Life. In 1991 a pamphlet was published listing birds seen at Medford Leas arranged by season and frequency of appearance. It was revised in 2002 and is kept up-to-date.
See more about the Birders at mlra.org/MLBirders/.
Betsy Pennink, a resident volunteer, has prepared a labeled diagram, to scale, for the Atrium Garden and each Courtyard Garden. When the plantings in a garden change, the diagram is updated. When complete, the Geographic Information System for the Courts
will include diagrams and photos for each court.
The Farm. Located behind the Nature Center, the Farm is the Medford Leas community garden. The Farm gives residents the opportunity to tend their own gardens. Plots of all sizes are available so that gardens can be as large or small as a resident wishes. There are spigots throughout the Farm for watering. There is fertilizer in the shed as well as plenty of shared tools. In the spring Maintenance supplies bales of straw and also rototills plots if desired. The paths between the plots are kept mowed. There are also what we call our ‘table-top’ raised beds, located on one of the tennis courts by the Nature Center. These ‘table-tops’ provide those with mobility issues the opportunity to garden. The Chairs assign plots and ‘table-tops’, redefine traditional plots as needed, coordinate with Maintenance, keep the Farmers informed, and supply tips through an ‘as-needed’ newsletter.
Geographic Information System. The GIS project
is now done entirely by resident volunteers led by Dave Bartram, whose Arboretum Documents Page
includes a 2012 paper
for the Arboretum Oversight Committee that provides insight into the direction the project is taking.
Managed by residents, the Haddon Greenhouse
is a place for residents (and staff, if there is room) to ‘over-winter’ their potted plants. There are 90 spaces available to residents. These are assigned after a September sign-up. Residents are responsible for care of their own plants in the greenhouse, while our greenhouse volunteers take care of spraying incoming plants, general housekeeping, as well as ‘pest patrol’ and control.
Lumberton Trails and Site. About a dozen residents provide labor and expertise toward the maintenance of the Lumberton property. They maintain the trails and bridges for walking and the stream for paddling. They repair fencing and fight invasives — including mugwort, bittersweet, Ailanthus, catbriar, poison ivy, and just plain weeds. Without the support and perseverance of these volunteers there would be no trail system.
Lois Forrest Nature Center Library. In support of the Barton Arboretum’s mission “to promote the appreciation and knowledge of horticulture and to emphasize the importance of integrating nature into people’s living, working and recreational environments,” the LFNC library maintains a collection of how-to and reference materials about local horticulture as well as materials about birds and birding, ecology and the nearby Pine Barrens. The collection is searchable via the MLRA online catalog. Most of the collection can be borrowed by Medford Leas Residents and Staff. The Library also holds “Let’s Talk Gardening” programs on various topics.
In 2002, former wildflower walk leader Rudy Salati developed a database of Medford Leas wildflowers. Using Rudy’s database, Maggie Heineman built the MLRA wildflower website
. When Rudy retired, Jane Bourquin, an expert on wildflowers, led weekly walks until 2013. Currently Maggie and Kay Smith lead “Exploring the Trails” walks on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month.
Website. This site was created by residents Maggie Heineman and Ann Campbell. Maggie provided the content; Ann did the coding; they collaborated on design.
Woodland/Trails. Regular maintenance along the trails includes the control of poison ivy, the trimming of multiflora rose bushes, weedwhacking underfoot grass, and lopping off intrusive branches. Sometimes there is a trail or bridge maintenance activity that requires the combined effort of several members of the group. When needed maintenance is beyond what volunteer residents can handle, it is reported to the maintenance department — for example for the removal of heavy limbs or trees or for the repair of a bridge.
“Heroes of the Trails
” uses Steve Denham’s humor and photographs to applaud the work of this group.
Photo credits: Banner – Stanley Brush; Apiary – Video by Ginny Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer; Birders – Miriam Swartz; Courtyard Map – Betsy Pennink; Farm, Haddon Greenhouse – Perry Krakora; Lumberton Creek Cleanup – Judy Atwood; Nature Bulletin Board, Woodland Trails – Steve Denham; Nature Library – Maggie Heineman; Nature Walks – Ralph Berglund