Goodell Gardens and Homestead

By Tim Grunzel
Gannon University Student Contributor

Goodell Gardens understands the importance of preserving trees and plants both native and exotic for maintaining a healthy environment we can all enjoy. A walk through the non-profit's 78-acre garden and arboretum will expose you to a variety of different foliage and trees which you may not see anywhere else including: Hemlocks, Sugar Maples, American Hornbeams, Redbuds, Chinkapins, Mountain Laurels, Great Laurels, "Little Linda"s, a wide variety of Rhododendron and Azaleas, and many interesting hybrid flowers. The arboretum also features several exotic trees planted over the years including, Japanese Maples, Dawn Redwood trees from China, and a Ben Franklin Tree. Also among these historic, timeless trees is the arboretum's Paper birch, the second tallest of its kind in the commonwealth.

Goodell Gardens maintains a beautiful slice of history and nature, but they also focus on protecting the environment by implementing green practices. Amber Wellington, volunteer coordinator, says a focus of the garden's green efforts, is to reuse whatever they can.

"We compost everything", she says. In doing that, Goodell Gardens saves on what they have to throw out and put into a landfill. During the Fall when leaves begin to fall off the trees, instead of bagging them and having them picked up, they save a plastic bag by reusing the leaves to mulch the grass and keep it green and healthy.

The gardens also made the decision to refurbish the many old barns of the Goodell sisters' original 1876 property, rather than tearing them down to build new structures. The decision was made to refurbish them, despite their many years of wear and tear, in order to save waste. By choosing to refurbish, the farm recycled resources they would have needed if they had decided to build new barns.

Goodell Gardens also chooses to tackle another natural problem in an environmentally friendly way. Deer and other small animals that try to eat the flowers and cause damage to the plants are discouraged using a natural product referred to as liquid fence, which is made up of natural components combined together that are then sprayed onto the flowers and plants. The liquid fence eliminates the need for pesticides that could harm other plants, the environment, and any insects that they want to attract, for example, to their pollinator garden.

The gardens offer educational volunteer opportunities for adults and children of all ages, including: garden sprouts aides, kids' activities aides, docents, event aids, street teams and newsletter production aides. Education coordinator Heather Zimmerman and volunteer coordinator Amber Wellington meet with prospective volunteers on scheduled days in May.

If you are interested in learning more about Goodell Gardens and their mission, log onto their website and like them on Facebook. Want to experience it for yourself? Plan a visit! The gardens are open May 1 through October 31, every Wednesday - Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tour groups and educational field trips are welcome with reservations. For a small fee, you can enjoy the gardens, visit the farmer's market or the events barn on available days, and find many helpful tips for living green. Admission is free for members, children under five, and students of nearby Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. For all others, admission is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and, $2 for children over five.