Pennsbury Manor received a $60,000 shot in the arm from funders this year, and officials are planning to use that to expand education programs and launch a new website for the historic site in Morrisville.
“Pennsbury Manor is poised to make major strides in 2017,” said Ron Schmid, president of the Pennsbury Society’s Board of Directors. “This is just the beginning. We look forward to seeking out additional grant funding so that we can continue to carry out William Penn’s legacy for future generations to come.”
The Pennsbury Society received $45,000 from Waste Management through a program that allows businesses to divert their state taxes to educational programs. The McLean Contributionship awarded a $5,000 grant to assist with an orchard project, and Visit Bucks County contributed $10,000 for design and development of a new website.
According to Managing Director Sarah DiSantis, this contributions are significant compared to grant awards in past years.
“The (Waste Management) grant is one of the largest we’ve received in years,” she said.
That particularly will assist with educational expansion on Pennsylvania founder William Penn’s former estate. It will allow them to better serve the 15,000 school students who visit the site in the spring and fall with the continuation and improvement of the “By the Day” program.
“With that, teachers get the opportunity to customize the experience for their students,” DiSantis said.
It will also help sustain and improve some of Pennsbury Manor’s bigger one-day programs like William Penn Day in April, sheep shearing in May and Pennsylvania Day in June.
DiSantis said that Pennsbury Manor will be focusing not just on history, but on STEM education as well by partnering with Silver Lake Nature Center, Waste Management and the Bucks County Audubon Society for programming.
The Visit Bucks County grant will help Pennsbury Manor increase its online visibility and offer more information on available programs and special events to expand its tourism footprint on the internet.
“It will really highlight Bucks County as a destination,” DiSantis said.
The McLean Contributionship will support the orchard project on the estate, fulfilling the Pennsbury Society’s mission to “interpret the life of Penn” through historically accurate representations of the landscape and uses of the orchard during his tenure there.
Pennsbury Manor’s Historic Gardener, Mike Johnson, will helm that project, focusing on the kitchen garden and wooded areas of the nature trail.
“It’s probably going to be a few-seasons project,” Johnson said. “We have to find the proper variety of trees and bushes and make sure the area is properly prepared for it.”
One of the programs that would benefit from the orchard project is the “Lifecycle of the Apple,” which basically follows the different uses for apples around the estate and shows how each part of the site is connected.
Penn had 1,600 acres of orchards, and while this project won’t scratch the surface of that scope, it will give an accurate representation of the orchard’s usage and importance in Penn’s lifetime. The apples were grown in the orchard, prepared and used for cooking, leftovers were fed to the farm animals and waste from the animals was used to fertilize the soil where the apples grew.
Johnson will also introduce some native plants and shrubs that were considered food sources at that time and work closely with volunteers to improve the nature trail.
“It’s really going to add to what we have at Pennsbury Manor,” DiSantis said. “We want to bring it as close as we can back to the way Penn had it.” ••
For information, visit pennsburymanor.org.