As stewards of their surroundings, Landis Homes Retirement Community in Lititz, Pa., has grown to cherish its natural resources. This community, which relates to a number of Mennonite groups, believes that its environmentally sensitive areas and rural, character-defining features must be conserved in order for its facilities and the broader community to flourish in the future.

Many residents at Landis Homes not only support these efforts, they bring it upon themselves to participate. Recently a resident group formed on campus called the “Friends of Woods and Wetlands.” This group is an informal organization of residents who volunteer time, talent, expertise and effort on behalf of the flora and fauna associated with the Landis Homes campus.

They see their mission as nurturing the diversity of native plants to support the ecosystems of Leaman Woods, Kurtz Run, the wetlands and flood plain. The group also spends time studying relevant environmental issues and makes recommendations regarding campus policies and practices consistent with good stewardship of nature. They serve as an environmental education resource for residents and the larger regional community.  The group is open to all residents interested in, and dedicated to, wildlife preservation and the other efforts of the group. Currently nearly 20 folks are participating.

The group has laid out their goals, all designed to benefit the natural environment.  Currently the group is working to reestablish populations of native species of reptiles, amphibians and birds in the six-acre dedicated wetlands.  They are also working to propagate native paw-paw and persimmon trees, zebra swallowtail butterflies and pollinator bees. One special area of interest is monitoring bluebird nests on campus to assist in a higher rate of survival for these important birds.

Through their effort, mustard garlic weeds have nearly been eliminated from Leaman Woods, a forested area on campus, in the last two years. Instead of using chemical sprays, the group is physically digging out Poison Hemlock or Teasel found in order to keep them from getting a foothold in the wetland areas. Both very invasive plants are rapidly spreading across Lancaster County and other areas of Eastern U.S.

To learn more about ways Landis Homes is working to be good stewards of the natural environment, see

Landis Homes is a continuing care village by Landis Communities.

Photo Captions:

Warren Shenk, a resident of Landis Homes, presents visiting students with a bee box for housing pollinator bees. This is one way of increasing the population of pollinators on campus.

Don Ziegler installs a bee box at Landis Homes.