The Lands at Hillside Farms

Page 1


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Letter from the


s you prepare to review the pages that follow this letter, I want to challenge your way of thinking. I want to challenge your understanding of not only what The Lands at Hillside Farms currently is, but also your understanding of community, your understanding of the future, your understanding of how the past and future intertwine, and finally challenge your understanding of how all of these are closely tied to what The Lands at Hillside Farms can be.

My hope is that as these concepts and ideas are presented to you, your vision and insight as a leader in this community will allow you a broader and more thorough conception of the role The Lands will play in Northeastern Pennsylvania during the 21st-century. My goal here is to not only ultimately to gain your financial support, but also to engender your excitement and enthusiasm for this project through a thorough understanding of all aspects of our efforts here. Our vision is broader than simply preserving the Hillside’s past; it’s about using the land as a springboard

for creating a better tomorrow. Our mission statement reads as follows: The Lands at Hillside Farms is a nonprofit, regional educational center and historic farm estate. Our mission is to preserve this farm, promote local history, and demonstrate lifestyle choices that are healthy, conservation-minded and practical. Each mission component will be demonstrated through farmbased educational programs, sustainable agricultural activities and living history See LETTER, Page 12


The Lands at Hillside Farms

CONTACT US The Lands at Hillside Farms 65 Hillside Road Shavertown, PA 18708 Administration: 570-6964500 Dairy Store: 570-696-1881 Website: Friend us on Facebook!

Board of Directors: Douglas Ayers, VMD, Chairman/President Donald Roskos, Treasurer Marlyne Lipfert, Secretary John DeBalso William D. Haas John Plucenik Henry F. Smith, Jr., MD

Administration: Chet Mozloom, Executive Director

Guy Kroll, Special Events/ Volunteer Manager

Joan Balasavage, Office Manager Suzanne Kelly, Director, Development & Marketing Adam Todd, Director, Operations Chuck Deome, Farm Manager Amy Deome, Farmer/Educator

Frank McCloskey, Maintenance Manager Anne Poole, Greenhouse Manager/Educator John Shorts, Plant Manager Molly Shorts, Ice Cream Parlor Manager/Birthday Parties Dolores Wairman, Dairy Store Manager 570-696-2881



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Since that day, the organization has faced numerous challenges ranging from the formation of the organization to the pressure to acquire the farm with a prescribed timeline to the repair of the numerous historic structures. On June 11, 2011, The Lands will hold its first annual meeting to celebrate the restoration of the Lord and Burnham Greenhouses as well as to honor The Land’s charity supporters. These supporters make possible a developing Sustainability Renaissance Facility that will serve to teach and give recreation and access to the public with a focus on sustainable choices and family values. The Lands is blessed with hardworking staff members who measure their day by progress and not hours, numerous volunteers who selflessly serve to accelerate and enhance the endeavor, a sweat-equity board of directors and many other incredible people who share their blessings with The Lands as they make capital and programmatic progress possible through gifting. These programs and experiences range from school students learning the importance of stewardship, to the creation of new friendships resulting from volunteerism and hard work. Without charity and hard work none of this would be possible. You can see a garden as a plot of soil that provides food or you might look deeper and see it as an opportunity for stewardship, collective effort, bonding, exercise, productivity, peace and nourishment on many levels. The Lands is a garden of sorts for us all, provided by the charity of those who honorably choose to share their time, treasures and talent. Charity is the virtuous fuel of The Lands at Hillside Farms, and The Lands honors it.


The Lands at Hillside Farms

A garden fueled by charity

little more than five years ago, The Lands rose from an idea within a single mind into fruition when the nonprofit was granted operational control of the farm on a lease-purchase basis.


The Lands at Hillside Farms must raise more than $400,000 each year in order to continue its hands-on, educational farm programs.


his is the story of a magical blend of opportunities related to education, quality of life and the general health of our region and its people. • The Lands at Hillside Farms is a 19th Century, 412-acre, nonprofit educational dairy farm that each year welcomes thousands of regional students of all ages and means. • Here, any one of us can be a farmer, a historian, a scientist – but far more importantly, we can get in touch with values too many of us have forgotten in a busy world.

Volunteers and donors from the public, business, foundations and government have worked very hard and rather quietly for years to make this vision come true. There are precious few places in Pennsylvania — even America — quite like The Lands at Hillside Farms. This is a first-hand, hands-on experience only the children of agriculture can have today. At The Lands, visitors can see, touch, taste, smell and learn about nutrition, archaeology, ecology, animal husbandry and land conservation. We teach the importance of respecting the delicate balance among nature, the environment and man. Moreover, we believe a healthy mind and body are interconnected and we show by our example how to live a bal-

A herd of cows produces Hillside Gold milk products. The herd is fondly known as ‘the girls.’

anced life. We like to think of The Lands as a “412-Acre Classroom Without Walls.” We consider ourselves honored to welcome and educate thousands of visitors each year, yet maintaining the farm prop-

erty as well as its historic barns, brilliant exhibits of flowers and vegetation and of course our popular cows, piglets, horses, oxen, goats, sheep and chickens is a significant financial undertaking not supported by dairy store sales. Each year we must raise more than $400,000 in order to continue what so many have come to count on: a living, hands-on educational farm available to everyone – every day of the year. Please remember, nothing quite like this has ever happened here. Please become a Guardian of The Lands at Hillside Farms. As a Guardian you can be assured that your donation will be directly reinvested in the necessary expenses related to running this magnificent regional treasure. We would be sincerely grateful for your financial help.



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The Lands at Hillside Farms

The Farm



t The Lands, students see, touch, taste and smell to learn about math, science, nutrition, ecology, history, animal husbandry, diversity and land conversation.

We teach the importance of respecting the delicate balance among nature, the environment and man. In addition, we believe a healthy mind and body are interconnected and we show students by our example how to live a balanced life. Over the last year, our educational staff and animal “co-faculty” members provided handson, fully interactive educational classes and presentations to more than 4,000 students of all ages, means, and intellectual and physical capabilities. In addition, we are now experiencing an influx of requests for tailored educational tours specific to children with autism, mental retardation and learning disabilities as well as those who live in poverty.


EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS • Up Close with the Farm Animals • Identifying the Role of Various Plant Parts • From Green Grass to White Milk • Weights and Measures on a Dairy Farm • Drinking the Sun (Photosynthesis) • The Environmental Impact of Choices • Worms Eat my Garbage • From Genes to Jeans • Natural Plant Dyeing • Architecture of Historic Farms • Cows Teach Local History • Plants Teach Social Studies • Can Dirty Water be Healthy? • The Soil Ecosystem • Stream Monitoring • Grass Species Census In addition, we offer immersion programs that include intensive, curriculumdriven, non-agricultural educational activities, experiments and experiences to high-school students, environmental clubs, social groups and scout troops.


hen posed the question, “If something bad happened to our world, would you know how to survive from what you have learned in the Dream Green Farm program here at Hillside?” 19-year-old David De Jesus didn’t hesitate. “Oh yeah, I would grow a garden full of vegetables,” De Jesus said. “I would be able to make tomato sauce and a lot of different kinds of soups. I bet I can teach my neighbors how to garden, and they might pay me for teaching them, too.” Dream Green Farm is a unique partnership between the LIU-18 transitional department and The Lands at Hillside Farms. The project was made possible through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG). At the farm, students from local high schools have the opportunity to learn valuable

life lessons through working in an “open air classroom.” This is Dream Green’s third year at The Lands. Each January, students begin learning about seed germination, transplanting and a little “critter control.” Throughout spring, these students plant six-packs of vegetables, flowers and colorful hanging baskets. “The first year was all about learning,” Adeline Orloski-Zack, LIU-18 job coach and trainer said. “It is important to understand the science behind nature and I hope these students leave this program with a true sense that they have the power to take care of themselves, even if it is as simple as having a small garden.” “In the first year we had a successful season selling our plants outside the dairy store and presently we have grown into a year-round program that supplies produce, holiday wreaths and centerpieces to two active retail sites. Our goal is to train them for possible employment in greenhouses, farms or nurseries in the local area.” Zack explains. Ask the students what their favorite part of Dream Green is and you get

a variety of answers. “I love the day we pick vegetables for the Wilkes-Barre Farmers Market or for the (Hillside) Dairy store,” De Jesus said. Cassie Atherholt said she enjoys the gardening portion prior to going to market. “It’s all about the weeds, I love picking weeds,” she said. “I feel a sense of accomplishment and power when I look back and see my line of soil, rid of weeds.” In the autumn, the acre farm boasts a prime crop of pumpkins for the retail sites. “It’s an exciting time of the year and it is fun cutting the perfect pumpkin from the field,” Atherholt said. Students not only learn about naturally raising plants and produce, they also become efficient in money exchange, working with customers and merchandising. At the WilkesBarre Farmers Market, customers enjoy receiving their fresh local produce in beautifully drawn paper bags designed by the students. “Their artwork is fabulous,” Zack said. “I think some people buy the vegetables just to get a bag!”




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The Lands at H


Story and Photos by MIKE BURNSIDE


s a kid growing up at Harveys Lake a half-century ago, there was always plenty to do. At the time, however, we didn’t always realize that and we’d bug our parents until they agreed to one of the standard items of summer evening entertainment — Hanson’s Amusement Park, the Noxen Ice Cream store or the cow barn at Sterling Farms.

The first, as you might suspect, was not the preferred choice of the parents, and the fact was that we could ride our bikes to Hanson’s during the day, so we ate a lot of ice cream and got to know the cows, although I don’t think we consciously made the connection between ice cream and cows. As it happens, none of these activities exists today, yet there are reminders of all three. Every day I look across the Lake and see the trestle of the old roller-coaster, the bath house, and the building which housed the penny arcade. One of the bike rides I should do more often is a loop that takes me past what’s left of Hanson’s, then to Noxen and the little building, now empty, that introduced me to the distinct pleasure of banana ice cream, and then the long climb from Route 29 past the still beautiful Sterling Farms, though the cows are long gone. And yet, I do not pine for the “good old days.” The modern version of the penny arcade is almost entirely electronic, and what mechanical parts that still exist seem somehow less wonderful

under the control of their computerized brains. And casinos are not for kids. Happily, the connection between ice cream and cows has been firmly established at The Lands at Hillside Farms, but that doesn’t begin to capture the magic of the Hillside experience — for kids and adults. What’s not to love about a place where you can pet a day-old calf, converse with a bunch of noisy chickens, tickle a one-eyed cat, feed a nanny-goat, scowl at a ram, have an elegant wedding, take a hay ride AND learn how to braid a rug? Where else around here can ALL your senses be engaged? The smell of the flowers, the sound of a dozen cows mooing at once, the feel of a horse’s mane, the taste of the (banana!) ice cream, and the sight of, well, I’m a photographer, don’t get me started. So come and eat some ice cream and get to know the cows. The Lands at Hillside Farms is a place a child will always remember, no matter how old you are. Mike Burnside is a photographer for The Lands at Hillside Farms

The growing patchwork of



ike many new small farms, Fertile Grounds does not look like the iconic agrarian image of a barn and house surrounded by endless rolling hills.


used to naturally fertilize soil for generations. “I love being a part of something that is both primal and modern. Fertile Grounds provides an opportunity for me to give back to Mother Earth and to the community,” farmer and customer service specialist Rayann Rather, Fertile Grounds is a Brown of Noxen said of working growing patchwork throughout on the organic farm. “I feel the Back Mountain, which cur- blessed to be a farmer.” Fertile Grounds combines the rently includes an 11-acre field of vegetables off State Route 29 near talents of a number of local resithe Noxen Food Mart, a green- dents, including Deb Shoval, house for germinating plants Rayann Brown, Head Farmer from seed near the game lands in Amy Butler of Noxen, Cook and Noxen, and a 1-acre, pick-your- Office Manager Rebecca Shoval own field at The Lands at Hillside of Kingston, Farmer Belle Boice Farms in Shavertown. Using non- of Noxen, and Equipment Managcontiguous land allows Fertile er Gary Patton of Noxen. Fertile Grounds Grounds to be choooperates as a CSA sy in finding soil ONLINE (Community Supwith the highest ported Agriculamount of organic To join a local CSA ture) farm, also matter and best pH this season, visit: known as “sublevel. www.fertilegroundscscription farming.” “Organic farming,www.dancingMembers pay an is all about or www.icelandicsheeannual subscriping the health of the patturtlemountaintion fee in exsoil,” said Project change for a weekly Manager Deb Shovshare of fresh vegeal, a Kingston native tables from the who learned about sustainable agriculture by work- farm all season long. By eliminating on farms in Maine and West- ing long-distance transportation and middleman mark-ups, CSA’s ern Massachusetts. “We are investing in the land by are able to offer high-quality probuilding soil fertility for the good duce well below retail cost. A Fertile Grounds’ memberof this year’s crops, as well as ship, for example, costs $500 for a many harvests to come.” In addition to adding manure 22-week season, or about $22.75 a and compost – natural fertilizers week, and typically feeds four – to the already rich soil alongside people (or two hungry vegetarBowman’s Creek, Fertile ians). Members of Fertile Grounds leaves half of its main Grounds are able to pick up their field fallow. The fallow portion of shares at The Lands at Hillside the field is plowed and planted Farms on Wednesdays or in with cover crops, which will not downtown Wilkes-Barre. In addition to eliminating costs be harvested but instead turned back into the soil to increase orga- for the customer, CSA’s help by providing financial support to nic matter. Next year the other half of the farmers when they need it most – field will be left fallow to regener- in the winter and early spring. Usate the nutrients lost to this year’s ing this bulk payment, farmers harvest. Rotating crops, allowing can order seeds, start seedlings land to lay fallow, using cover and repair equipment before the crops and adding compost allows busy season begins. Fertile Grounds will also be organic farms to produce a bountiful harvest without employing selling produce at the WilkesBarre Farmers Market. The booth synthetic fertilizers. Compost is a mixture of plant at the Farmers Market will have a material — including food scraps line of finished food products, and leaves — animal manure, pa- such as pesto and salad dressings, per, peat, charcoal and ash left to also available inside the dairy decompose in a pile or bin. The store at The Lands at Hillside decaying organic matter has been Farms.


Hillside Farms


The Lands at Hillside Farms

LETTER Continued from Page 3

based on traditional principles. What does this mean? Simply stated, The Lands is an entity much more than a place. Our vision is to use this facility and its structures as a means to engage visitors and our community to re-examine modern life and its conveniences and consider applying a more respectful, traditional approach to their daily lives; an approach that values family and personal character-building, hard work, respect for the land itself and respect for each other. By demonstrating these values through a working agricultural facility, we are confident that the end-result will be a healthier community (and beyond). Our world is changing quickly — economics, government, lifestyles and the fuels we use — and the life Americans have become accustomed to is no longer sustainable in an environmentally changing Earth that houses a complex world economy in constant flux. By incorporating the best of what has defined this country throughout its history (hard work) and with lessons learned through experience, we can equip and adapt to be ready for whatever our futures hold. We need to rediscover and employ a way of life that requires sweat equity instead of convenience — a time when the byproduct of a day’s labor was strength, perseverance, independence and self-respect. Sustainability is often defined as the practical ability to satisfy the basic needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their

needs. This is a principle that guides the development and efforts across The Lands at Hillside Farms both fundamentally and operationally. The plan for fulfilling our purchase agreement includes attaching a conservation easement to the deed (ensuring these 400 acres are protected as a working farm and education center); all farming/gardening activities are conducted following organic and near-organic practices (meaning our hormonefree cows roam the pastures, fertilizing them as they graze, while producing healthier milk for your family); our development plan includes adapting centuries-old buildings for modern purposes (visitor and education centers). Supporting these efforts in a sustainable way requires “something” to replace modern inputs. In our case, we’re proud that that “something” is effort. Instead of saving time, we’re trying to preserve what’s most important — the planet, its resources, the animals, the health of our community and, most of all, our children’s future. I hope first and foremost as you read the pages that follow, you gain a better understanding of The Lands at Hillside Farms — both where we are now and where we want to be. Armed with that knowledge, I hope you’ll take the time to think about this community and the many ways that the vision for The Lands at Hillside Farms can contribute to improving Northeast Pennsylvania’s quality of life and how your contribution and leadership at the forefront of this endeavor will pay dividends for generations to come. Thank you for your time and interest. Sincerely, Douglas J. Ayers, V.M.D. Chair, Board of Directors

Precocious knows S omeone asked me a fair question the other day. They mentioned that The Lands at Hillside Farms often suggests people purchase locally grown foods and asked why it is relevant. The Lands at Hillside Farms recommends that we purchase locally grown foods, locally made products and shop at locally owned businesses whenever possible because our mission and reason for our creation is to teach responsible, healthy and sustainable life choices.

Doing this is recommended for a number of reasons. In the case of food, the average item we eat is shipped 2,000 miles from where it was grown or raised. Sometimes they come to us from other countries. Oftentimes there are ingredients such milk proteins that are concentrated and sent to us from areas of the world where labor is cheaper and there is less environmental or food quality regulation. When we shop and buy locally-produced products, we are helping our community by supporting our neighbors. Jobs are created here. We often know the farmer


Precocious the cow gives thoughful advice on all matters related to The Lands at Hillside Farms.

or merchant or craftsmen we purchase from. The items do not have to travel thousands of miles to get here, which saves energy, reduces pollution, reduces traffic and often provides us a fresher product. Fewer or no preservatives are often needed for locally grown foods. They can be picked when they are closer to being ripe and are thus tastier and contain more vitamins. Oftentimes you can pick your own. Now that is fresh! Price is often the main determiner of what makes us purchase one item over another. This has led to a situation where many of the ingredients that comprise foods we eat come from countries where labor is cheap and there are no environmental or food quality regulations. The result is that we have

recently seen foods that were contaminated with industrial chemicals, pesticides that are illegal in the United States and toxins like lead or melamine (Formica). Can there be any threat to national security that would be greater than relying on other nations to feed us? And if we do not farm here then what happens to the farmland? Suburban sprawl has consumed millions of acres of Pennsylvania’s beautiful open space. The purpose of The Lands is to share information such as this so we collectively might change the world for the better. And we can! Imagine if we all modified our spending habits in order to shape policy into that which is responsible and healthy for all of us. Now that would be sustainable!

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Connecting scents with memory and the farm As the founder of Danielle and Company, I am often asked why we like certain scents. This is a heavily debated question in the field of scent research. Are we born with innate smelling capacities that are pre-programmed in our brain that tell us what we should like to smell? Or do we decide if a smell is pleasant to us based on emotional odor-associative learning? Why do some of us think the smell of roses is romantic and others cringe at the smell because it reminds them of their overly perfumed grandmother? What I believe — and what has been documented by many research studies — is that we like and dislike scents based on the first exposure we have to it and the experience of that exact moment. For example, I love the smell of skunks. That’s right … skunks. I always felt quite strange admitting this growing up, I never told a soul. But as I began my scent journey and learned about emotional learning of certain smells, I felt I could finally share my love of the black and white animal from whom most people run. Although I don’t remember my first encounter with that creature and its distinctive odor, it had to have been a pleasant experience. Perhaps it was dur-

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ing a camping trip in New Jersey with my family or traveling to Pennsylvania with my grandparents, but whatever it was, I was having a good time! The smell of skunk lives on in my memory and, to this day, I still breathe deep and smile when I smell it. So why do I love skunk smell and others hate it? In general, associative learning comes from the world of human cognition and behavior. It explains the process by which one event comes to be linked to another through an experience. So odor-associative learning means that a smell is described as either pleasant or non-pleasant based on the memory connected to that particular scent when we were first experienced it. When was the last time you said to yourself (or someone else) “This scent reminds me of …” That is what we call a scent memory: the memory that is evoked when you smell something and it triggers a

memory. These memories frequently have strong emotional qualities and are associated with the good or bad experiences in which they occurred. For example, the smell of honey and oats may evoke a scent memory of your mom baking cookies in the kitchen when you were a child and you got to eat the first one, warm and soft, right out of the oven. The difficult part is that smell memories are created upon first exposure and many times, that was when we were young children.

In this instance, I just say to trust the process. Research shows it is difficult to overrule that connectivity in the brain. So if you are like me and you love the smell of skunk, embrace it. If you hate the smell of roses, embrace that too. We are all unique in our own ways. What we like and dislike makes us who we are. Written by Danielle K. Fleming, Founder of Danielle and Company, Inc. A local, homegrown family business that manufactures natural and organic products for the bath, body and home in Scranton, PA.



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The Lands at Hillside Farms


The Lands’ dairy herd was reintroduced in 2007.


n the spring of 2007, The Lands at Hillside Farms reintroduced a dairy herd to historic Hillside Farms. The dairy operation is a grassbased farm that meets the objectives of the nonprofit educational organization: to conserve land, preserve history and educate the public about sustainable lifestyle choices. The Lands’ dairy herd (the girls) spends most of their days outside eating grass. The simple choice to keep the cows outside rather than confined in a barn has a lasting impact on the milk they produce and on the health of the environment. Healthier, happier cows make better milk. We promise to operate in a

way that is best for our farm animals, our environment and of course, our customers. The cows at The Lands do their part to keep our waterways clean. They do not stand in the streams when they graze. In fact, we have planted riparian buffers along our streams to further protect waterways from runoff. The manure from cows in confinement presents a threat to the drinking water of neighbors living down stream. This potential hazard is not just from bacterial but also from the “chemical stew” used to maximize the milk production of a confinement heard, including bacterial-resistant antibiotics and hormones.



• High in cancer-fighting agents – Hillside Gold contains a higher content of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) than milk from grain-fed cows. • High in vitamins – Hillside Gold is high in beta-carotene, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. • Hormone Free - Cows treated with Bovine Growth Hormones (rBGH) to maximize milk production reach the end of their productive lifespan and are slaughtered after just three years. Comparatively, pastured cow frequently remain an active part of the dairy herd for 10 to12 years. • Antibiotic Free – The overuse of antibiotics in grain-fed, confinement dairy operations has resulted in the development of diseaseresistant bacteria in humans and animals that is harder to treat with medications. The Hillside herd is always antibiotic free.


The Lands at Hillside Farms

Hillside celebrates return of greenhouses


remarkable celebration will soon happen at The Lands at Hillside Farms. On June 11, 2011 we will hold a rededication ceremony and reception lauding the restoration of our historic greenhouses.

Created more than 150 years ago by internationally recognized Lord and Burnham, these iconic iron, cypress and glass structures boasted unique plants and trees previously not seen in our area. The glory days of this magnificent structure have long passed and many believed the glass garden would eventually fade to memory. However, through the generous unprecedented support of donors, this rare structure has been restored to its original splendor and beauty of more than a century ago. In fact, there are only a few Lord and Burnham

Flowers and plants of all kind will be grown in the greenhouses.


The greenhouses were built 150 years ago by internationally recognized Lord and Burnham.

greenhouses of this style in the United States. In its prime, the glass garden was home to geraniums, snap dragons, orchids and tulips as

well as a variety of vegetables. In time, the flora became a key source of income that helped support the greenhouse’s everyday operations and maintenance.

Congratulations to The Lands at Hillside Farms! Raymond Khoudary, MD, PC 190 South River Street, Plains • 970-1400

Glass Garden Builders, based in Connecticut, began restoring the greenhouses in June 2010 and completed work in early May. Anne Poole, better known as

“Greenhouse Anne,” is excited about the promise of what lies ahead. In fact, Anne has for months been busy raising seedlings in anticipation; today the greenhouses are bursting with life and color! In addition to remarkable beauty, the greenhouses and contents will serve as a key educational piece to The Lands’ mission of teaching students of all ages the importance of sustainable living. Anne expects to have flowers and plants “representative of The United Nations” throughout the raised beds and surrounding stone wall.


113 North Memorial Highway Shavertown, PA 18708 • 570-674-6525

CORBETT INSURANCE Auto • Home Life • Business

Nanticoke (570) 735-8990

Toll Free: 800-750-3743 Email:



Shavertown (570) 696-0700




Rededication of Greenhouses and Annual Dinner June 11, 2011 We Are Thankful For And Humbled By Your Generous Support. Thank You For Helping Us Reach And Teach Thousands Of Children Throughout Our Region With Deep and Sincere Gratitude,

The Lands at Hillside Farms Mountaintop, Pennsylvania


h Haven Road, d Bear Creekk Village, ll 98 White PA (570) 472-2299 •

1100 Memorial Highway, Dallas, PA 570-674-7800 •

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