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 text, photos and a link to the article and video by The Philadelphia Inquirer about Schuler and his visit to Corey’s hive on the Lumberton Campus. Ro Wilson, a resident, is the liaison between Corey and Medford Leas.
The group, led by residents Dave and Miriam Swartz, 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.
There are community gardens on both campuses, organized and operated by residents with support from the landscaping department. A photo essay “Down on the Farm
” illustrates 2011 spring planting and fall harvest on the Medford Campus. 2013 farm news: “A large abandoned bed was divided in two and planted with buckwheat, a nice cover crop that keeps the weeds down and attracts bees. The late Charlie Shearer’s strawberry and raspberry beds have been revived.” More raised beds are “sprouting up.” Two groundhogs have been caught and relocated, and two wild turkeys like to wander through the Farm. There is now a ‘Freecycle’ area set up where folks can leave unneeded gardening items and anyone can take what they need.
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. Lumberton campus resident Margaret Eysmans (right) along with Medford campus residents Bill Brown and Marilyn Flagler manage the Library in the LFNC and provide “Let’s Talk Gardening” monthly discussions. While the primary source of the library’s collection has been through donations from residents, new materials and supplies are also added with funding from the MLRA Council and the Arboretum Oversight Committee..
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
. In 2013 Rudy’s successor, Jane Bourquin, an expert amateur naturalist, retired as walk leader and Maggie began using the Arboretum Blog
to keep records so that residents without Jane’s expertise can know when and where to find wildflowers in bloom.
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