About Us


You can also view our lists of available plants. (Please note that the linked list currently is for informational purposes only, to help you understand the types of plants available.)

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook; we share regular updates about our program and the plants we sell, as well as opportunities to become involved with our important work.

If you have any questions, please email Kim Patten or call her at (717) 960-6740.

The Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse is a teaching nursery supported largely by a dedicated group of community volunteers. We focus on growing native plants to improve habitat, protect water and make our communities more resilient. Our students, who are engaged in many aspects of nursery operations, represent a diverse population of young people from central Pennsylvania, each working to overcome barriers, build skills and identify tools to become whole and contributing members of society.

Based at the Diakon Wilderness Center, our program is an integral part of Diakon Youth Services, which has been serving youths at risk of not reaching their potential since the 1970s. We also are part of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, which has been serving the region since 1868.

The Wilderness Greenhouse has provided space for students to learn, grow and develop life skills for more than a decade. Our 15,000-square-foot greenhouse not only houses our horticultural program, but also serves as a sort of living machine, recycling and filtering the wilderness center campus wastewater to protect the quality of the Little Dogwood, a small tributary to the Yellow Breeches Creek.

In this same spirit of stewardship and sustainability, the Wilderness Greenhouse, built in 2002, has refocused its program around the propagation and production of Pennsylvania native plants.

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a particular region, ecosystem or habitat. Because native plants are uniquely suited to a specific climate and growing conditions, they tend to be resilient, disease-resistant and low maintenance and uniquely suited to support healthy ecosystems. They are used extensively in habitat-restoration projects, in plantings designed to encourage and support wildlife, in the protection of local rivers and streams and to improve the quality of the communities in which we live.

The Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse has become a favored source of native perennials – flowers, vines, shrubs and trees – for both home landscaping and conservation applications.

Our history ... 

In 2015, the established Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse embarked on a new venture—the establishment of a native perennial nursery. In the fall of 2014, Diakon staff began a conversation with Jan Getgood and Ernie Johnson, proprietors of the former Meadowood Native Plant Nursery in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.

Meadowood had served the native plant and environmental communities for more than a decade, offering hundreds of varieties of Pennsylvania native plants for restoration and conservation projects, as well as urban rain gardens, meadow installations, pollinator gardens, and more. As Getgood and Johnson began planning their retirement, they were looking for a way for Meadowood’s mission of stewardship to continue. As a result, Diakon staff members moved nursery wagons, benches, irrigation supplies, a new cold frame and about 3,000 native perennials from Meadowood Nursery to kick-start our nursery operation.

The nursery has since provided a platform for Diakon Youth Services’ award-winning Center Point Day Treatment Program’s vocational training initiative, providing opportunities for skills-building in landscaping, horticulture and conservation.

For information on our many current activities, please visit and “like” our Wilderness Greenhouse Facebook page

We invite you to become a continuing customer of the Wilderness Greenhouse & Native Perennial Nursery at the Diakon Wilderness Center. Contact Kim Patten with questions or to discuss how you can support our mission.

See this link for directions.

Kim PattenKim Patten

The Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse

Kim Patten joined the Diakon Wilderness Center team in 2014 to refocus and expand the program of the Wilderness Greenhouse. Under her direction, Diakon has begun a new native perennial wholesale and retail nursery, providing both a source of plants for restoration and conservation applications as well as plants for home gardeners looking to enrich and enhance their own landscapes.

Patten came to Diakon after having worked 15 years with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where she served as an educator and naturalist; she also helped to develop programs around clean water issues.