Governor’s Residence Garden Harvest Benefits LEAF Project

Pennsylvania’s First Lady Frances WolfImage via Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s First Lady Frances Wolf is sharing that the Governor’s Residence’s Garden harvest was donated to Landisburg’s LEAF Project, a regional organization that cultivates youth leadership through meaningful work in the food system. LEAF used the nearly 500-pounds of fresh tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in their community feeding efforts, including meal preparations for neighbors via the Salvation Army.

“The past year and a half truly showed us the value of using every single resource we have to support ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. The Residence Garden, although small, was one of those resources that played a part in Pennsylvania’s efforts to ensure people had food to eat,” said First Lady Wolf. “The Residence is Pennsylvania’s home, and our goal is to share what it means to be a Pennsylvanian with everything we do there. Chef Barry and the dedicated Residence staff did just that by giving what we had to the phenomenal LEAF project, who paid it forward to those in need in their community.”

The Governor’s Residence Garden grew and donated 225 pounds of Roma tomatoes, 105 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, 90 pounds of green tomatoes, 25 pounds of cow horn hot peppers, 15 pounds of jalapeno peppers, five pounds of sweet basil, three pounds of English thyme, and three pounds of French tarragon.

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The Roma and heirloom tomatoes helped produce approximately 100 quarts of roasted marinara sauce. The green tomatoes and jalapeno peppers will be made into 120 pints of green tomato salsa. The cow horn peppers were pickled and filled 75 pint jars, and the fresh herbs were used for sauces and dried to make herb blends.

“The LEAF Project has been an incredible group to work with, and it is inspiring to see how they use food to help their communities and strengthen their own skills,” said Residence Executive Chef Barry Crumlich. “I have had the pleasure of mentoring these young people for quite some time now, and they continue to grow as they learn more about the nature of food and how they can use their own talents and the resources around them to support food work. They worked tirelessly through the pandemic to meet the needs of the people around them, and I am proud to say that our team at the Residence could give them a hand in making it happen.”

Food production in cities at community gardens, like the Governor’s Residence Garden, plays an important role in improving environmental and human health through added green space and the availability of fresh produce for local and surrounding communities.

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The Residence Garden is just one of many community gardens producing hyper-local food across the commonwealth that are critical to the resiliency of local food systems. They serve to directly address issues related to access and availability of fresh, nutritious foods for food deserts or areas affected by food apartheid.

“Community gardens are an important piece of our commonwealth’s food and agriculture system,” said Secretary Redding. “Many of these gardens in Pennsylvania fill a void and address food deserts; I’m grateful for this effort by the Governor’s Residence – through First Lady Wolf and Chef Crumlich – to directly advance food and nutritional security through their support for the LEAF Project’s community feeding program.”

During the growing season, LEAF provides a weekly share of produce grown on their farm; everything is grown, picked and packed by the LEAF youth crew, giving them work opportunities that showcase their unique potential. First Lady Wolf toured the LEAF farm during her visit  in June 2021 and saw firsthand how the organization carries out its operations. She was impressed with how the young group used their food security work to nurture education and develop valuable life skills.

“LEAF is thrilled to partner with the Governor’s Residence through preserving the bounty from the on-site gardens,” said LEAF Founder and CEO Heidi Witmer. “Through this partnership, we are able to teach LEAF youth valuable food preservation skills that will last a lifetime, provide customized and much-needed access to healthy products that are shelf stable to our hunger-relief partners, and continue to engage our community in building a more resilient local food system. We are so thrilled to be doing this work alongside the remarkable staff at the Governor’s Residence.”

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Each year, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence Garden grows fresh produce to be used by Chef Barry Crumlich and staff during events.

Additionally, the Governor’s Residence hosts an annual Earth Day event, celebrating the Pennsylvania agencies, organizations and people dedicated to preserving the health, agriculture, and beauty of the commonwealth.

To learn more about the Governor’s Residence, visit www.residence,pa.gov.

To learn more about the LEAF Project, visit www.leafproject.org.

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