Friends Village’s Salem Oak, a reminder that we are but stewards

    The story of the Salem Oak dates to the late 1600s when John Fenwick founded Salem, New Jersey in 1675. According to legend, the Lenni Lenape people living on the land signed a peace treaty with Fenwick while seeking shade and comfort under the tree.

    The “Treaty Tree” as it was named, was beloved and cared for by the Quaker community and Salem residents for centuries. Standing 103 feet tall, with a 22-foot circumference, and estimated to be nearly 600 years-old, it was recognized as a Millennial Landmark Tree and named among the top 50 trees in the country with historical significance.

    Sadly, the Salem Oak fell on June 6, 2019. Though its presence has been dearly missed, its legacy lives on.

    A year before it fell, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection partnered with the Salem Quaker community to gather over 700 of its acorns and propagate its offspring.  Friends Village had the honor of being chosen as home to one of 75 scions that are now being fostered throughout the Delaware Valley.

    Having spent the last year at the home of Master Gardener and former Friends Village Board Chair, Carol Ashton-Hergenhan, our tree has just been transferred to the grounds of our Styer campus, The mnemonic SPICES is used to remember the Quaker testimonies: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.

    At Friends Village, stewardship emphasizes a responsibility for appropriate use of resources, both financial and environmental. As we carefully utilize the gifts given to establish our community more than 125 years ago, so do we consider our environmental impact.

    All electricity utilized at Friends Village comes from renewable sources. At our seven-acre Styer campus, we work to remove invasive plant species and replace them with natives that support our local ecosystem. 

    Our little tree, offspring of the great Salem Oak, bears witness to our commitment to stewarding the earth. To learn more about the Friends Village community and programs, visit us online at, or call Barbara Heverly at 215-968-3346 extension 108.

    PHOTO CAP: The 600 year-old Salem Oak, at Salem Meetinghouse, 2012

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