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Woods and Wetlands

The Friends of the Woods and Wetlands (FOTWAW) is a resident volunteer group at Landis Homes that promotes butterfly gardens, goes on “owl prowls”, monitors bluebird houses, and welcomes non-stinging native pollinator bees, as well as other activities.  FOTWAW holds monthly meetings for lectures, slideshows, or a field trip, all related to  ways to enjoy and be responsible caretakers of the environment.  There are more than a dozen working groups within Friends of the Woods and Wetlands, all dedicated to a particular area of interest.

Wetlands Flower Walk– July 2019

Residents initiated a guided Flower Tour walk through our wetlands to see the variety of wildflowers there were blooming. Read more.

Learn more about Landis Homes Living Green here:

Volunteer of the Year Award

June 2018

Distinguished Service Awards for 2018 were presented at the LeadingAge PA annual conference in Hershey, PA in June 2018.  Congratulations to the Friends of the Woods & Wetlands group who tied for the Volunteer of the Year Award.



One of the sub groups of the resident led Friends of the Woods & Wetlands focuses on Bird Identification on campus. They recently shared the list of birds which have been identified on campus since 2016. Photo of Cedar Waxwing by Dick Boshart.  View Complete Bird List



An 80-Degree Day in February 

February 2018
Posted to Landis Homes Resident email group
by Charles Longenecker, retired biology teacher

Fellow Wetlanders,

“An 80 degree day in February stands in sharp contrast to  the biting winds that we can reasonably expect in March. Taking advantage of this today, I walked to the wetlands.  While dormancy still holds a firm grip on much of the biota around us, there is evidence of an awakening.  I was greeted by dozens of honey bees entering and leaving the “bee tree” just beyond the garden bridge. I failed to see any returning bees carrying the telltale pollen that would indicate a successful foraging mission. Aside from some emerging anthers of maples, few native flowers are to be found. Snowdrops in Leaman woods are in full bloom, an exception.  I was pleased to find a number of the blue and white flowers of Veronica, responding selectively to a sunny southern exposure. Returning grackles are also making their arrival known. And we are still one month from the official arrival of spring.  Enjoy it!”


Butterfly Mania Takes Over Retirement Community:

by Becci Leatherman, resident
October 2017 excerpt from PARCR Post
(The PARCR Post is a newsletter for Pennsylvania Alliance of Retirement Community Residents”

Of all the years that I taught kindergartners and preschoolers about the life cycle of butterflies, I never imagined that in my 80’s I would find retirees excited to learn about the mystery of the caterpillar-to-butterfly story. But that is what has been happening this summer at Landis Homes, Read more here:

View instructions for
Sowing Winter Milkwood here


Butterfly Gardens a Success

August 2017

Over the summer residents have been enjoying carefully tending their butterfly gardens, and watching the caterpillars develop into beautiful butterflies.  Click here to view more photos.



Butterfly Kits Distributed

June 6, 2017

Residents who are members of Friends of the Woods & Wetlands at Landis Homes distributed butterfly kits to over 100 households on campus today. Plants including dill, black eyed Susan, Fennel, Italian parsley, milkweed and zinnias were handed out to those who participated. The purpose of the effort is to fill the campus with plants that will attract both the Monarch and Black Swallowtail butterflies. This particular variety of plants, distributed with directions for planting, are good for butterflies to feed and lay eggs on. The group is hoping the campus will see an increase in the number of butterflies this summer.



Back to Nature: Residents Cherish Community’s Resources

By Margaret Gates, Custom Content Editor, LNP
May 17, 2017

Charles Longenecker doesn’t give up easily, especially when it comes to preserving nature.When the retired Lancaster Mennonite biology teacher moved to Landis Homes 12 years ago, he decided to reintroduce native plants to Leaman Woods, a natural area of the community’s south campus that had been overrun by invasive garlic mustard.Without a water source, some of those new plants died. Still others were lost to some well-meaning groundsmen with a weed whacker. So Longenecker planted more.Then came a paving project a few years ago to create a path that would make the woods more accessible to wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

Read More


Volunteer Group Cares for Campus

May 2017

In 2016, a volunteer group of residents formed, naming themselves the Friends of the Woods and Wetlands. They volunteer time, talent and expertise on behalf of the flora and fauna on the Landis Homes campus. The group sees its mission as nurturing a diversity of native plants to support the ecosystems of Leaman Woods, Kurtz Run and the connecting wetlands. The group also spends time studying relevant environmental issues and makes recommendations of practices consistent with good stewardship of the natural world on campus and beyond.

 The Friends of the Woods & Wetlands has several working groups:

·         Birding  – maintain birdhouses and track bird sightings
·         Butterfly – encourage use of plants that attract and support butterflies
·         Flora – nurture and diversify native plants
·         Fauna – introduce and monitor frogs, tadpoles and minnows in ponds and wetland pockets
·         Invader  – control invasive plants
·         Mapping – map trees and birdhouses by latitude and longitude markings



Access to the Great Outdoors

by Ann Mead Ash
originally published in Town Lively, Dec. 28, 2016

On November 15, 2016, 200 residents, team members, family members, and administrators gathered at the entrance of Leaman Woods.  The group dedicated, blessed, and opened a new paved pathway to make the area more accessible to all, along with a gazebo for use by residents and their families and guests. Organizers of the effort to create better access to the woods cited the benefits of spending time in a natural environment.  “It is widely accepted that a walk in the woods can be great for boosting one’s mood,” said Linford Good, VP of Planning & Marketing.
Read more


Friends of Woods and Wetlands Nurture Retirement Home Ecosystems
Posted by Mennonite Creation Care Network, July 2016

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.

Read More


Retirement communities thinking green, not grayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By Stephen Kopfinger, LNP Contributor

This article was published in the LNP on May 18, 2016

At Landis Homes, the outside is coming inside to help the retirement community sustain — and even grow — with the cooperation of man and nature.

And at Masonic Villages, what comes from the earth helps feed the kitchens, teach city-raised kids how vegetables come to their table and even help nourish the grounds of the Elizabethtown residence for active retirees.

As with many businesses and communities, there was a time when few thought of working with Mother Earth on their very properties to furnish food, save water, shape the land and even influence the design and climate controlling of buildings. That’s changing, as retirement communities, to use the popular term, “go green.” Read More


Preserving and Protecting While Expandingflood plain

April 2016

This recent article by Larry Guengerich, published on the American Institute of Architects Website highlights Landis Homes commitment to caring for the natural environment and how we see this focus as an important part of how we live into our guiding value of stewardship. Read here



Maryland Conservationists Tour

November 2015

A Tour

A group of persons involved in conservation and regulation of natural resources in Maryland visited the restored stream and floodplain on November 5. It was a beautiful day to tour wetlands.


Pollinator Bees Come to Campus

April 2015

Resident Don Ziegler, along with assistance from others has brought and created homes for pollinator bees to enhance the natural areas of this campus.

Please Link here to see Horizons Spring issue article:  A Personal Passion Blooms on Campus

Link here to see Don’s answers about his hobby at:  Frequently Asked Questions


Bluebirds Returning to Landis Valley

Brothers Warren and Norman Shenk joined forces to install bluebird boxes around the Landis Homes campus over the past year. This follows Warren connecting with the local Bluebird Conservation group and finding out about the decline of bluebirds in the area where he grew up.  With advice from another resident, Roland Yoder, he also learned how to build and install the houses to create bluebird trails. Warren built 34 houses and enlisted the help of his brother, Norman, to install them around campus, and especially in the new flood plain area which is a particularly good habitat. They have already seen local bluebirds checking out the new additions.