From the Director’s Desk: Managing the Landis Arboretum During a Global Pandemic

By Fred Breglia

Across the nation, the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has led to the clo­sure of many parks, arbore­ta, and botan­i­cal gar­dens. But despite – or maybe because of – the dif­fi­cult times, the Lan­dis Arbore­tum chose to keep its grounds open to the pub­lic, free of charge. 

There are many sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proven health ben­e­fits of out­door places, and giv­en the cur­rent health cri­sis, we felt it was impor­tant to offer a nat­ur­al way to relieve stress. With miles of hik­ing trails, social dis­tanc­ing was pret­ty easy.

In the midst of this glob­al pan­dem­ic, a new aware­ness of the val­ue of arbore­ta and oth­er green spaces has been grow­ing. When most dai­ly rou­tines came to a halt this spring, more and more peo­ple were seek­ing out Lan­dis, not only on the week­ends but also in the mid­dle of the week. We saw more peo­ple than ever using the out­door space not only for hik­ing, but also as an art stu­dio, a per­for­mance space, and an out­door classroom.

While the num­ber of our vis­i­tors has increased, man­ag­ing the Lan­dis Arbore­tum has been very chal­leng­ing. Our 2020 cal­en­dar was packed with events includ­ing out­door edu­ca­tion pro­grams, work­shops, and con­certs. Lan­dis had to can­cel or post­pone most of the sched­uled pro­grams. This includ­ed our annu­al Spring Plant Sale, which is a major income source for Lan­dis. We weren’t sure what was going to hap­pen.

The Lan­dis Board and I met reg­u­lar­ly but vir­tu­al­ly to dis­cuss our strat­e­gy to min­i­mize the finan­cial impact on the Arbore­tum. We took advan­tage of an online fundrais­ing cam­paign, #GivingTuesday2. Our sup­port­ers donat­ed gen­er­ous­ly in spite of their own eco­nom­ic uncer­tain­ties, sur­pass­ing our expec­ta­tions. In addi­tion, to con­tin­ue our mis­sion of nature edu­ca­tion, Lan­dis edu­ca­tors have been con­duct­ing vir­tu­al pro­grams on Face­book Live and oth­er plat­forms at no cost. Our Full Moon Con­cert series has been free of charge and entire­ly vir­tu­al this year.

While adher­ing to the rec­om­mend­ed health guide­lines, Lan­dis con­tin­ued the main­te­nance and upgrad­ing of the facil­i­ties with the help of ded­i­cat­ed trustees, vol­un­teers, and mem­bers who gave their time and mon­ey to help. I’m proud to say we have com­plet­ed the Emer­gency Shel­ter, as well as a good part of the infra­struc­ture at the Med­i­ta­tion Gar­den. We also plant­ed many new trees this sea­son and will con­tin­ue to plant more through the fall.

In August, we launched an ambi­tious and suc­cess­ful­ly social-dis­tanced 5K under the direc­tion of David Roy, the race coor­di­na­tor. Using all-online reg­is­tra­tions and stag­gered heats and start times, this com­mu­ni­ty event was a wel­come one for sure.

In mid-Sep­tem­ber, we were able to hold our Fall Plant Sale, again fol­low­ing safe­ty pre­cau­tions. Our gar­den­ing friends could not have been hap­pi­er!

Yes, 2020 has cer­tain­ly been a chal­leng­ing and often stress­ful year. We have suf­fered finan­cial loss­es, but cer­tain­ly we gained more in the loy­al­ty and sup­port of our mem­bers and friends.

Fall 2020

Volume 38 , Number 3

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Mar 14, 2023

Picturing Landis through the year

Scenic Landis Arboretum just begs to be captured by photographers, professionals and amateurs alike. Enjoy... read more

Mar 14, 2023

2022 Annual Report

View or Download read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Nolan Marciniec

Re-thinking Garden Pests

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Fred Lape, founder of the George Landis Arboretum

Barn Swallows

In this poem, Arboretum founder Fred Lape calls our attention to the “commonplace” miracle of... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Anita Sanchez

Things Are Looking Up

Tree canopy -- Anita Sanchez Long ago I worked at a nature center, leading walks... read more

Mar 14, 2023 | Laurie Freeman

S-L-O-W Birding: A Primer for Beginners

Are you considering birding? Perhaps you’ve heard that birding is a great way to enjoy... read more

News Archive