Here's what we know so far about governors' residences:
- Funny story about Texas. An Eat the View enthusiast rallied some friends and created a website to petition Governor Perry to follow Michelle Obama's lead, only to discover that Texas has had a veg garden at the governor's mansion since the 1870s! Nothing is known about landscape practices there. (Hey, Texas gardenbloggers, how about finding out?)
- Also predating the White House veg garden are those in Ohio, South Carolina and Arkansas.
- 2009 additions to the veg-growing movement are governors in Maryland, Pennsylvania and California, with another one in the planning stage for Maine.
- Of those, governors in Ohio, Maryland and South Carolina have also updated their landscaping practices in some way, showing concern for issues like protecting the Chesapeake Bay, providing habitat, and reducing lawn. (All 3 green-the-mansion guvs were Republicans, btw.)
- New York has an plan for greening their mansion that includes "ecologically sound grounds maintenance". We hope to see that single quote fleshed out with details, though.
Calls for more veg gardens:
- One Georgia blogger, another Eat the View follower, is petitioning the governor to install a veg garden.
- One North Carolina newspaper has called for their governor to do the same.
- And there's quite a grassroots movement in Vermont calling for a vegetable garden on their capital grounds (possibly because there's no official governor's residence there?)
Consider two recent examples. Sure, it's great that California First Lady Maria Shriver started a veg garden on the grounds of State Capital Park, but when her press secretary called to tell me and found himself being asked about all those other issues – water, pesticides, wildlife – he had no answers. I was told that their horticulturist would call me but it's been a month now and it ain't happening.
Then last week Pennsylvania's Governor Rendell announced HIS veg garden in Harrisburg, touting how "green" he is – great! But do you think there was any mention of how responsibly he's managing the rest of his official landscape? Not a peep. So why aren't reporters asking? The good news here is that my own calls have yielded very promising answers, so stay tuned.
How about YOUR Governor?
I'm thinking that if someone, anyone, actually asked the governor's office about water conservation, water retention, lawn fertilizer, provision for wildlife and their use of pesticides, the result might be:
- Finding out they're already doing fabulous things, like Maryland's last governor. He had a cool horticulturist in charge, got the property Bay-Wise-Certified, photos were taken, and the guv looked like a big green hero!
- OR these issues have never occurred to your governor or anyone on his or her staff – til you asked. They say, "We'll get back to you," and lo and behold, there's a big eco-friendly plan announced! Probably including a veg garden for good measure – even better! They may even go the way of Ohio and use their grounds to demonstrate and honor the state's natural history, among many other fine objectives served by Ohio's Heritage Garden.
Whatever you may know or find out about your governor's mansion grounds, let me know! And send them the Green the Grounds link.
Photo: Maryland's First Lady Katie O'Malley helps plant a veg garden on the governor's grounds.