Happy New Year from the MVHS Heirloom Seed Project!

Greetings from the MVHS Heirloom Seed Project!

We are very excited about our new seed bank project that is almost complete.  We received a grant from Seeds of Change to build a new seed bank in order to provide better storage for our seeds.  We will update the blog soon with pictures of our progress. 

We are also very excited to announce our seeds offered through Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company!  Two summers ago, with our Teen Agriculture Crew, we grew the 1500 Year Old Cave Bean for Baker Creek and this year they are included in their 2017 catalog!  

Here is the link to the Baker Creek seed catalog to view our seeds: 1500 Year Old Cave Beans

More updates soon to follow!



MVHS Heirloom Seed Project

Historical Trees of MVHS: Robert E. Lee Arlington House Eastern Red Cedar


   Arlington House, located in the Arlington National Cemetery, was the former home of three of America’s most recognized families; the Washingtons, Custises, and Lees, and often hosted veterans of the Revolutionary War, among whom was the famed French patriot, Marquis de Lafayette.   Martha Washington’s great, granddaughter Mary Custis married Robert E. Lee in 1831 in the parlor of the house. Shortly after, military duties took Lee to Mexico during the Mexican War, West Point, where he was appointed Superintendent (1852-55), and Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. where he commanded the forces who captured John Brown.

    When the Civil War broke out Lee was forced to make a life-changing decision-support the Union or the Confederacy.  When Lee left Arlington in 1861, it was occupied by the Union and became Freedman’s Village for freed slaves.  In 1864, the home and land became Federal property at auction and was made into a National cemetery for Union war dead.

    This tree was grown from seeds of a large eastern red-cedar growing behind Arlington House and brought to Medomak Valley Living History Arboretum by Olivia Wheeler, Class of 2016, when she traveled with “Wreaths Across America”.

By: Neil Lash

Historical Trees of MVHS: Penn Treaty Elm



    Hi, I'm Abby and I took Horticulture II at Medomak Valley High School. In this class we saved and learned about heirloom seeds. We also learned about biodiversity and how to grow seeds. 

    Our elm tree came from Haverford college, who has t the great great grandchild of the original elm tree under which William Penn met with the Lanape Chief Tamanend in 1862 and pledged a treaty of friendship. The tree became famous during its lifetime among the banks of the Delaware River in Shacamaxon, what is now the Kensington area of Pennsylvania just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (Haverford).

    William Penn was born in London, England on October 14, 1644 to Sir William Penn and Margaret Jasper (biography) Williams father was an English admiral and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1670 and his mother was the daughter of a wealthy Dutch Merchant (wiki). Penn first went to Chigwell School while in Ireland, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. After a failed mission in the Caribbean admiral and his family were exiled to his land in Ireland, it was here that William around the age of 15 met a Quaker Missionary, and later when he was in his twenties he converted to Quakerism. In 1672 William married Gulielma Maria Sprignet they had three children together. In 1681 King Charles II gave William a large piece of land to satisfy a debt the king had owed Williams father, this land ended up being present day Pennsylvania and part of Delaware. Penn wanted Pennsylvania to be a peaceful refuge for members of all religious beliefs (biography). William had first called the new land 'New Wales' then 'Sylvania' (which is Latin for forest/ woods) finally he ended up calling it Pennsylvania.

    The Lenni Lenape Native Americans are also called the Delaware Indians they lived in an area they called "Lenapehoking" which means "land of the Lenape.” The Lenape’s territory encompassed the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey from the Leigh River south into eastern Delaware and the Delaware Bay. Also along western Long Island, New York Bay, and the lower Hudson Valley in New York. Lenape comes from their autonym; Lenni which may mean "genuine, pure, real, original" Lenape meaning "Indian or man". Lenape Native Americans in the Northern part spoke a munsee dialect of the eastern Algonquian Delaware language, those I'm the southern part spoke Uniami a slightly different dialect of the same language (wiki). Family was very important to the Lenape Indians there were strong ties between the parents and children (lenapelifeways). The Lenape lifestyle was that everyone worked but men and woman did different tasks. The men were usually hunters and sometimes would go to war to protect their families; the women would do the farming and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine (bigorrin). Small children began to learn the skills they would need to know when they grew up (lenapelifeways). 

    There is no actual record of this 'great treaty' (PennTreatyMuseum) but, it is said that William Penn met with the Lenape Chief Tamanend in 1862 at the village of Shackamaxon and pledged a treaty of friendship, which happened under this elm tree. William addressed the Native Americans the following "We meet on this broad pathway of good faith and good will; no advantage shall be taken on either side, but all shall be openness and love. We are the same as if one mans body was divided into two parts; we are one flesh and one blood" the reply from Tamanend was "we will live in love with William Penn and his children as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the moon, sun and stars endure" (PennTreatyMuseum). William had bought this land for 1200 pounds, which a large sum, was fair on both sides (xroads). 


Citations - 

  • Penn's Treaty with the Indians. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn's_Treaty_with_the_Indians
  • (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/william-penn-9436869
  • Arboretum: Penn Treaty Elm. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.haverford.edu/    arboretum/collections/penn_treaty_elm.php
  • Welcome to Lenape Lifeways. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.lenapelifeways.org/lenape1.htm

Historical Trees of MVHS: Leavitt Storer Maple


    Hi, my name is Rayanne. I am a junior at Medomak Valley High School and I am taking Horticulture II. In this class we learn about different kinds seeds, biodiversity, how to plant them, and many other things. We have over 850 heirloom seeds saved and over 35 trees planted in our living history arboretum.

    Leavitt Storer was a shipbuilder in the late 1800's. He lived in Waldoboro, Maine. He built the first five masted schooner, the Governor Ames. The Governor Ames was 265 feet long and it's tonnage was 1690 tons. It was first launched on December 1, 1888. The Governor Ames was the world's largest cargo vessel, and still is to this day. Leavitt built the Governor Ames here in Waldoboro, which now has the motto "Home of the Five Masted Schooner." Leavitt got the name 'Governor Ames' after the former governor of Massachusetts, Oliver Ames. The Governor Ames was built in Waldoboro's Leavitt Storer Shipyard, which is still here today.

    Waldoboro became officially incorporated into the state of Maine on June 29, 1773. When Waldoboro had first become a town, it was spelt "Waldoborough" rather than how we spell it today, "Waldoboro." The town of Waldoboro was named after its landowner, Samuel Waldo. In 1629 the area that would become Waldoboro was granted to John Beauchamp of London and Thomas Leverett of Boston. The patent lay dormant until 1719 when Leverett’s great-grandson, John Leverett, President of Harvard College, revived the ancient claim and formed the Lincolnshire Proprietors, also known as the Ten Proprietors, so named for the ten shares distributed, one to each member. General Samuel Waldo of Boston acquired a controlling interest in the patent in 1729. 

    This maple tree was found growing at the original Leavitt Storer home, which is located on Friendship Street in Waldoboro, Maine. It is still there today.

By: Rayanne Leach


Historical Trees of MVHS: General Ellis Spear Red Spruce


My name is Marla and I am a Sophomore at Medomak Valley High School (2014/2015). This year I am part of the Medomak Valley Heirloom Seed Project. Next to many different historical seeds of tomatoes, peppers, corn and some other crops we have a Living History Arboretum with about 30 different trees. All these trees have an interesting and important history and the Red Spruce (Picea Rubens) is one of them.

"The plant symbol of the tree is PIRU, the Red Spruce Tree is in the Pinaceae family and part of the Gymnosperm group. One tree can get between 60 and 80 feet high, with a trunk diameter of almost two feet. The 1/2 inch long needles have four sides that are dark and shiny with a yellow-green color. Wood of Red Spruce Trees is narrow-ringed and light and soft compared to other trees. The wood has a light red color and is often used for sounding boards of musical instruments, but is also a very common eastern spruce lumber. Next to that, the tree is also used as christmas trees and make up a large number of spruce pulpwood.

The Red Spruce Tree mainly grows in the New England States of the US and in eastern Canada. The soil in these areas is really shallow till soil and is usually about 18 inches deep. In other parts the soil is overlying rocks.

A Red Spruce Tree starts to produce many seeds when it is 30 years old. Only one pound of seeds contains 139.000 seeds. Every three to eight years a tree can produce a heavy seed crop.

Many birds and mammals eat different parts of Red Spruce Trees, and many different insects are an enemy of the tree. The most dangerous enemy of the Red Spruce Tree is the Budworm. Other insects that can seriously damage the tree are the eastern spruce beetle, the European spruce sawfly and the yellow headed spruce sawfly."1


One of these Red Spruce Trees was found in the yard of The General Ellis Spear Cottage.  "Ellis Spear was born in Warren, Maine, in 1834. In 1858 he graduated from Bowdoin College. When the Civil War started, he studied for the bar and teaching school in Wiscasset, Maine. The following fall President Abraham Lincoln called for 300.000 more volunteers to serve in the war, and Ellis Spear encouraged people in his neighborhood and near towns to serve in the war. Together, the 87 men he managed to convince people to serve in the war were assigned to the 20th Maine, a regime that would be really important later on during the war. Until right before the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, he was a commanding officer for the 20th Maine. In the Battle of Gettysburg he became an acting Major of this regiment. During the Battle of Little Round Top on July 2nd in 1863 he commanded the left of the 20th Maine under Joshua L. Chamberlain."2

"The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most important battles in the Civil War. On the second day of this battle four northern regimes were assigned to defend the position of Little Round Top, the 83rd Pennsylvania, the 44th New York, the 16th Michigan and the 20th Maine. This part of the battle, known as Defense of Little Round Top, was probably the most important part of the Battle of Gettysburg. The 20th Maine, which Ellis Spear was part of, was the farthest left on the hill and it was also the hardest and the most brutal position. The 20th Maine was led by Joshua Chamberlain and they were ordered to hold the line, no matter what happens. Soon after the regiment took position, two Southern regiments attacked them. They were only a dozen yards away when the 20th Maine started an intense fire and turned back. The Southerners then tried to attack from the side. To be able to hold his lines and defeat them, Colonel Chamberlain stretched his lines so thin that they were only one men deep. Surprisingly they still defeated the two Southern regiments and they left the lines and went back. But now the 20th Maine was running low on ammunition because they had to fight against so many Southerners. They could already see them coming again, and they could see that they were preparing for another attack, so Colonel Chamberlain had to come up with a new idea, he didn't consider to leave the lines. They fixed bayonets on their guns and fought with them against the two Southern regiments, who soon realized that they don't have a good chance to win this battle and fled after many of their men were killed. The 20th Maine won this battle, one of the probability most important battles in the war." 3  "After that battle Ellis Spear took command of the 20th Maine for almost the rest of the war.

After the Civil War was over, Ellis Spear became a patent lawyer and worked and lived in Washington, DC, where he was a commissioner. When the war ended, he still worked and spend time with the 20th Maine Association. He published a book about his experiences in the Battle of Fredericksburg, and when his wartime diaries were found they were published as well. These personal diaries allowed to get to know Ellis Spear better  he was a very educated and generous man. He really cared about his men, what he showed by nursing them when they were sick. He also hated going to war but loved his country and thought that the war was necessary work to preserve the country and Union.  Ellis Spear lived to the age of 80 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery."2

By: Marla Kugelmann


1. Plant Fact Sheet. (2002, February 5). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from http://                plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_piru.pdf

2.   Ellis Spear. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from http://home.comcast.net/~tstarr1863/spear.htm

3. The Battle Of Gettysburg. (n.d.). Retrieved May 4, 2015, from http://                battlegettysburg.weebly.com/the-defense-of-little-round-top.html

4. Red Spruce. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2015, from http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/            fieldbio/pkenlan/HTML/Pinaceae/picea_rubens.html

5. Spear Pugh, J. (2007). 22 The General Ellis Spear Cottage. In Friendship Homes, If         These Houses Could Talk (Second ed., p. 147). Friendship, Maine:             Friendship Museum.

Historical Trees of MVHS: Harrison's Oregon Trail Rose


     Hello blog viewers! My name is Ben Stevenson and I am apart of the horticulture program at Medomak Valley High school. I'm currently a Junior and I am enrolled in the horticulture two program. Our purpose here at Medomak Valley High School is to preserve biodiversity in crops and keep living history alive. We actually have a living history arboretum here at our school, it contains a total of twenty five different trees from various places around the world.

      One of the trees we have is known as "Harrison's Oregon Trail Rose."  This tree is quite historical as it regales the stories of pioneers braving the trail to find new land for farming and hopes of new opportunities. However braving the trail was much more dangerous than they first expected. There were many horrible and sometimes gruesome trials that laid in wait for pioneers. Being run over by their own cart and oxen, Cholera, being struck by lightning and baseball sized hail and sometimes even being accidentally shot by their own friends with half cocked guns that fired when riding over bumps in the trail. (Frontier Trails The Old West)

    Many folk who started off on the trail looked like this, happy people wanting to find profit. Family's looking to start again, people running from being judged and wanting to start anew, then there were the gold miners. All of them looking to stake claim and get their fair share of wealth.

    Now before these miners set off to claim their fortune in gold, farming land, and new jobs, they heard of a beautiful rose that was bred in New York, it was later distributed by William Prince. William Prince however did not create this cultivar of this beautiful rose, we have to give thanks to sir George Harrison for that. So in the odd circumstance that this plant was huge while the pioneers traveled the trail, they planted it along the way. Some planted the roses outside of their houses. Sadly not many people who settled along the Oregon stayed there or lived long enough to become prosperous. 

By: Ben Stevenson    


                                                                      Works cited

Oregon Trail History. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.frontiertrails.com/oldwest/oregontrail.htm

(n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/cool-things-oregon-trail-tombstone

(n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/cool-things-oregon-trail-tombstone/10385

Historical Trees of MVHS: Mr. Lash's Mission

The Francis G. Cross Living History Arboretum


The mission of this arboretum is to collect and grow trees with a connection to our country’s 

history, thus sharing with others our past heritage. When you touch one of the trees in this arboretum 

you are connecting to a part of America’s history. When a historic tree that is part of our heritage 

dies, we have lost part of that irreplaceable connection. The trees in this arboretum, which was 

dedicated on November 17, 2013 in memory of Francis G. Cross, are associated with some of 

America’s most hallowed people. William Penn, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas 

Jefferson, and John Chapman-better known as Johnny Appleseed, are but a few national figures 

thus represented. Local figures like Isaac Reed and Bertha Smouse are etched into our state’s 

history. Other trees honor the memories of Levitt Storer, the builder of the Governor Ames, the 

world’s first five- masted schooner, Charles Huebner, one of the Old Broad Bay’s first German 

settlers, and Friendship’s own Warren Russell, who was so fascinated with oak trees he saw in 

England in 1865, that he started a grove now spread over a large part of Lawry. 

As you walk through the trees, reminisce and reflect. It was Caecilius Statius (220-168 B.C.) who 

stated, “He plants trees to benefit another generation.” And so it is that these trees were

planted to benefit others.  

By: Neil Lash

Historical Trees of MVHS: Johnny Appleseed

                                                        JOHNNY APPLESEED RAMBO APPLE                                                                                     

    Hello, we are Cameron Robinson and Jonathan Allard from Medomak Valley High School, in the Horticulture 2 class and Heirloom Seed Project. Here at MVHS, there is a historal arboretum with many trees that have a plethora of history behind them. One in particular, is the Johnny Appleseed Rambo Apple Tree (Roberts, 2011, p. 16). This tree was donated to the Medomak Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project by Laura Freeman, an art teacher in the school district (Roberts, 2011, p. 16). As Roberts (2011) says, "Freeman is a fourth cousin, five times removed from Johnny Appleseed" (p. 16). 

    On September 26, 1774, John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, was born in Leominster, Massachusetts to his father, Nathaniel Chapman, and his mother, Elizabeth Chapman (Johnny Appleseed, 2015). Nathaniel Chapman was in the Battle of Concord and in the Continenetal Army, serving for George Washington (Johnny Appleseed, 2015). Elizabeth Chapman, his wife, died of tuberculosis a few weeks after giving birth to one of Appleseed's siblings (Roberts, 2011, p. 16). In 1780, Nathaniel Chapman came home from the Continental Army, and married Lucy Cooley, and the two of them had ten children. Twelve years following his father's return, at the age of eighteen, he convinced his half brother Nathanial, at the age of eleven, to join Appleseed on his expedition (Famous Swedenborgians, 2015). 

Appleseed and his brother were said to have traveled along the Potomac River all the way to Fort Cumberland in Maryland. From there, they possibly traveled along the Monongahela River, near the Braddocks Road. It was said the two boys traveled this road

because there was less Indian traffic. They followed the Monongahela all the way to Pittsburg (Famous Swedenborgians, 2015). In 1805, the Chapman family met Appleseed and Nathaniel in Pittsburgh, and stayed there. Nathaniel decided he had enough of traveling, so Appleseed was left on his lonesome to travel alone (Famous Swedenborgians, 2015). He continued traveling particularly through Pennsylvania and Ohio, as he, "...sold, bartered, and gave trees to the pioneer settlers" (Roberts, 2011, p. 16). If you were to see Appleseed, you may have seen him wearing a white shirt, suspenders, saggy, worn pants, along with a, "...tin pot he occasionally wore on his head" (Roberts, 2011, p. 16). Appleseed was also known for walking barefoot, and carrying a bag of apple seeds around with him. His supposedly favorite apple type was the Rambo Apple, the same type here at Medomak (Roberts, 2011, p. 16).

    Although Appleseed was well known for planting many, many apple trees, he is also a well known figure of the Swedenborg church, a variation of Christianity that believes, "Heaven and Hell are not rewards or punishments distributed on judgement day, but the present inner experience we freely choose" (Welcome (Our Beliefs), 2015). He spent much of his time as a missionary, spreading his beliefs. Along with his religious beliefs, he was never married because he didn't believe in marriage (Johnny Appleseed, 2015). It is widely accepted that Appleseed died March 18, 1845, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with 1,200 acres of land in his name (Johnny Appleseed, 2015). 

    From this we can see Appleseed led an interesting lifestyle, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to preserve his legacy and history here at Medomak Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project.

By: Cameron Robinson and Jonathan Allard


Famous Swedenborgians - John Chapman ("Johnny Appleseed"). (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2015,     from http://swedenborg.org/FamousSwedenborgians/JohnChapman.aspx

John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman. (2001). Retrieved May 21, 2015, from http://                www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1848

Johnny Appleseed. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 12:12, May 08, 2015.             Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/johnny-appleseed-38103.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed. (2003). American Forests: Historic Tree Nursey, 18-19.

    Retrieved from http://swedenborg.org/FamousSwedenborgians/JohnChapman.aspx

Menu. (2013, March 17). Retrieved May 21, 2015, from https://americanorchard.wordpress.com/    tag/johnny-appleseed/

Roberts, P. (2011, August 25). Johnny "Appleseed" tree planted in MVHS Living History             Arboretum. Lincoln County News, p. 16.

Welcome (Our Beliefs). (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2015, from http://swedenborg.org/Beliefs.aspx

01453 Zip Code Detailed Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://www.city-            data.com/zips/01453.html

Historical Trees of MVHS: Washington Crossing White Ash

Washington Crossing White Ash

    During the cold night of December 25, 1776, when people everywhere were celebrating the holiday of Christmas, General George Washington was elsewhere.  With an army of approximately 5,400 troops, Washington made a monumental move that deeply affected the outcome of the American Revolution.  With hopes of surprising the Hessian force in Trenton, New Jersey, who at the time were celebrating the holiday, an unconventional attack provided a victory to Washington’s army, which had recently lost multiple battles to the same forces.  

    At 11:00pm on Christmas night, 5,400 troops, led by the General, crossed the Delaware River.  The troops crossed in three different places to elevate the intended surprise.  The soldiers led by Washington himself, consisting of 2,400, made it safely to the other side of the river, which was icy and half frozen at the time.  Just before dawn, his troops reached the shore.  However, the other two divisions, consisting of the remaining 3,000 men and its artillery did not reach the designated meeting point at the chosen time.  

    By 8:00 am on December 26th,  Washington’s remaining troops separated into two divisions and reached the outskirts of Trenton.  The 1,400 Hessians were awoken by 2,400 men and were not functioning to their full ability due to the previous nights festivities.  By 9:30 am, the town was completely surrounded, and 1,000 Germans were captured.  Only four American lives were lost.  However, because Washington’s other two divisions had failed to cross the Delaware, Washington was left with a limited amount of artillery and men.  He was forced to withdraw from the town.  The news of Washington’s initiative spread, thus giving the American colonists a new sense of hope and confidence in the Continental Army (Washington).

    The tree Medomak Valley has grown is a descendant from another tree that witnessed first hand the march of  Washington and his troops.  The seed from this tree was taken from the Washington Crossing White Ash at the Delaware River.   

  Medomak Valley Heirloom Seed Project is a dedicated to preserving seeds of all varieties.  As a student enrolled in Horticulture II, I am able to witness the growth and preservation of all our plants, and as a four year student at MVHS, I can see a difference in growth of nearly every tree.  We as a school strive to protect these trees because it strengthens diversity and appreciates the history associated with not only our country, but countries and people across the world.  

By: Sophie Cohen


GET NJ - Historic Roadsides - MERCER COUNTY. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015,

    from http://www.getnj.com/historicroadsides/mercer.shtml

MVHS Home. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://www.msad40.org/schools/mvhs/

(n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/





Washington crosses the Delaware. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://www.history.com/