14 Community-Focused Ways Quaker Meetings Can Steward Their Land

Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting land restoration work. Members use wood chips and cardboard as sheet mulch to turn areas of the lawn into a community garden. Photos by Paige Menton.

The following list accompanies my article “Coming Home to Land Restoration,” in which I share about a road trip I took last fall to learn about how meetings consider and take care of their land. I visited seven meetings in five states: Lancaster (Pa.) Meeting; Third Haven Meeting in Easton, Md.; Charlottesville (Va.) Meeting; Raleigh (N.C.) Meeting; Celo Meeting in Burnsville, N.C.; Birmingham (Ala.) Meeting; and Fairhope (Ala.) Meeting. I also gained insight from serving on a committee at Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting that developed a sustainable land use plan for its almost 13 acres. The list includes real examples from some of these meetings.

  1. Collaborate with other churches in the area. Example: Lancaster (Pa.) Meeting participated in a roundtable with local churches about earthcare.
  2. Collaborate with organizations (watershed, gardening clubs) and/or with the municipality. Example: Third Haven Friends collaborated with a watershed organization and the town of Easton, Md., on a riparian buffer project.
  3. Have members with expertise train others: birders, master gardeners, environmental educators. Example: A birder at Charlottesville (Va.) Meeting shared her knowledge with members of the community.
  4. Invite high school environmental clubs, Boys Scouts, and Girl Scouts to help with planting native plants or removing invasives.
  5. Invite other groups to use your land: people in apartments, after-school and summer programs, etc. Example: The Burdock Book Collective meets in a room at Birmingham (Ala.) Meeting, and the group started an herb garden on the meeting grounds.
  6. Grow native plant seedlings and observe the results (a great intergenerational activity). You can swap plants too! Example: Third Haven Friends held their first native plant swap last fall, and they planted the leftovers on the meeting grounds.
  7. Reduce mowing and consider reducing the size of or eliminating your lawn by replacing the grass with flowers, shrubs, and trees. Find resources for this from Homegrown National Park: homegrownnationalpark.org. Example: Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting has done this by sheet mulching areas of its lawn (using wood chips and cardboard), and planting rain and pollinator gardens.
  8. Volunteer as a meeting to remove invasives on public lands and/or in neighbors’ yards.
  9. Use meeting land or personal gardens to reduce area food insecurity. Members at Celo Meeting do a lot of work in this area. I have donated food from the Gwynedd community garden to a local food pantry for the last few years.
  10. Collaborate with your Peace and Social Concerns Committee around the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: decadeonrestoration.org
  11. Organize a land celebration event for your land and invite everyone.
  12. Honor those who lived on the land before the meeting with land acknowledgement: native-land.ca 
  13. Collect and share stories of treasured memories on the meeting land.
  14. Leave your leaves! https://wildseedproject.net/2020/12/leave-the-leaves/

Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting land restoration work, left to right: 1. Fencing a tree nursery of oak saplings found on the grounds. 2. Planting rain garden with native plants. 3. Native plants labeled in the pollinator garden. 4. Lavender fleabane in burial ground.

Paige Menton

Paige Menton is a member of Plymouth Meeting in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and lives on the grounds of Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting. This list accompanies her article “Coming Home to Land Restoration” in the June/July 2022 issue.

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