The Ursinus Organic Farm and Hunsberger Woods served as a teaching location for the Longwood Gardens Community Read program. Educators and Interns from Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., are learning about the environmental conservation, land stewardship and community engagement practiced by the writer Aldo Leopold in the program with local libraries and community partners.
Professor of Environmental Studies Richard Wallace with students Dean Scott, Sarah Huang and Megan Maccaroni helped put the Ursinus farm and adjacent woodlands in the context of Leopold’s land ethic, his idea of elegy and mourning for things lost, how to face adversity constructively, and other ideas from his groundbreaking A Sand County Almanac, a 1949 book which has sold over two million copies. They spoke about the opportunities for stewardship and learning that the Ursinus land and associated programs have provided to students.
Leopold (1887-1948) was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and his holistic ethics and views influenced today’s environmental ethics and wilderness conservation movements.
Aldo Leopold’s career in forestry and wildlife management and his keen observations of the natural world inspired him to write Sand County Almanac, so he could share his thoughts about nature, humanity, and the connections between them. From now through mid-April, Longwood Gardens has organized its first annual Community Read, which features Leopold’s conservation classic,” said David Sleasman, Library and Information Coordinator at Longwood Gardens. “Longwood is inviting the community to read the book, think about the issues of land, legacy, and community that it raises, and engage in activities and discussions. Longwood’s Professional Gardener program students and interns are a valued part of the educational component of its community. The two part learning experience explored the restoration efforts in the meadow project at Longwood Gardens and Hunsberger farm & woods at Ursinus College, and how each related directly to Leopold’s work. Students toured both projects and learned how Leopold’s ethical guidance was applied in each project to create a thoughtful approach to land use and management.”
Dr. Wallace, an expert in the teachings of Leopold, is a partner in the Community Read program, which has goals of engaging individuals and organizations at community partner locations in the importance of Leopold’s work. Wallace led a discussion at Longwood Gardens a week before the Longwood interns came to Ursinus. At Ursinus they heard about the beginning and growth of the farm at Ursinus, and the partnership with Collegeville Borough on the Hunsberger Woods natural area restoration.
Wallace conveyed to the group “how Leopold asked us to think deeply about stewardship theory in our approach to work and life,” and used the Longwood Gardens’ meadow restoration project as a case study. He also focused on how “we use Leopold’s principles of stewardship (land ethic, conservation, interdisciplinarity) as a means for structuring opportunities for learning and action” at Ursinus.
Regional events associated with the Community Read program are listed here, including an April 7 book discussion at the Phoenixville Public Library and an April 12 lecture by Leopold biographer Curt Meine, whose 2012 visit to Ursinus was memorable (and included the creative team behind the biographical film “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time”).