First Lady Frances Wolf Unveils Governor’s Residence Rain Garden During Annual Earth Day Celebration

April 23, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Addressing the need for better storm water management along the Susquehanna River, First Lady Frances Wolf today officially unveiled a newly constructed rain garden at the Governor’s Residence. The First Lady joined several of the state’s top environmental leaders to showcase the rain garden, as well as other green features on the property, as part of the Residence’s second annual Earth Day celebration.

“We are proud of the steps taken here at the Governor’s Residence to conserve energy, minimize waste, and provide more means to sustainable living,” Mrs. Wolf said. “In working with our partners throughout state government and across the commonwealth, we’ve been able to collaborate on many levels – from projects like the rain garden and new vegetable planters, to our honey-producing apiaries, to the solar panels on the roof — all of these things represent a commitment to protecting the environment and hopefully serve as example of easy initiatives we can all bring to our own backyards.”

Joining the First Lady Wolf were Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell, as well as more than 40 young people working for DCNR’s Outdoor Corps program, who presented the First Lady with wood planters they constructed for use in the Residence gardens.

Secretary Dunn invited listeners to visit several DCNR-staffed stations on the Residence lawn that addressed the value of watershed education, soil improvement and the planting of tree buffers along waterways. Also, the Bureau of Forestry’s Mira Lloyd Dock Resource Management Center supplied free white pine seedlings for visitors to plant when they returned home.

“As Governor Wolf noted in his 2018 Earth Day proclamation, ‘Everyone Plays a Part in Keeping Pennsylvania Clean,’ and this gathering helps us all learn what we can do to lessen impact on the environment,” said Dunn. “Those who work with me in the nearby building named for a conservation icon — Rachel Carson — are committed to a cleaner, greener Earth. I invite you to tap their knowledge and enthusiasm. “

“Every day is Earth Day at DEP,” said Secretary McDonnell. “We’re passionate about our work to educate and partner with citizens, schools, towns, farms, community organizations, businesses, and state leaders to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. As the First Lady shows, if everyone does a little, together we get a lot done for the benefit of all who appreciate the outdoors.”

Rain gardens are designed to lessen storm water runoff in an area with poor drainage issues or wash-outs. During the summer of 2017, Penn State student Zoe Roane-Hopkins joined DCNR’s Landscape Design Section as an intern to oversee planning, design and maintenance of the Residence rain garden. Residence staff provided the materials, funding for plantings and equipment assistance for preparing and planting.

Additional green features of the Governor’s Residence building and grounds include:

  • Rain barrels. The Residence utilizes several rain barrels placed strategically throughout the property to prevent storm water runoff.
  • Solar panels on south-facing roof of Residence. The panels provide not only a source of clean electricity to the Residence, but also an uninterrupted power supply of renewable energy for critical communications systems.
  • Ground source heat pump (GSHP) system, which replaced existing electric resistance heating. GSHP systems, also called geothermal heat pumps, concentrate existing heat, rather than burning fossil fuels to release energy. The GSHP system provides heat as well as supplemental cooling to the Residence.
  • Reduction of paper products where possible. This includes a major reduction in the use of paper plates, paper and plastic cups, and bottled water daily at events held at the Residence.
  • Recycling of glass, plastic, paper and cardboard.
  • Herb and vegetable gardens. The Residence is currently home to an herb garden and raised vegetable beds, the produce from which is used for cooking at the Residence.
  • Hydroponic garden. To address the need for fresh herbs and vegetables that do not grow well on the Residence grounds or are needed for events in harsh winter months, Residence staff recently built an indoor hydroponic garden.
  • Working and observation beehives. In additional to honey-producing beehives, the Residence installed observation beehives in 2017 so children can view the honey-making process and learn how important bees are to the environment and how the honey for culinary purposes at the Residence.

Details on the benefits of rain gardens and rain barrels, suggested plantings and other information can be found here.

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