Sappey, House Policy Committee hold hearing on Pa. public gardens at Longwood

State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, and House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, hosted a special hearing on Pennsylvania public gardens today at Longwood Gardens in East Marlborough Township.

Policy Committee members received testimony focusing on the economic impact, green job development, environmental and educational contributions of public gardens in Pennsylvania. Approximately 20 legislators heard testimony from garden advocates from across the state, including Casey Sclar, executive director of the American Public Gardens Association; Paul B. Redman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens; Maitreyi Roy, executive director of Bartram’s Garden; and Richard Piacentini, president and CEO of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. They also received a tour of Longwood’s conservation, horticulture research, and education facilities located on the grounds.  

“Pennsylvania’s public gardens have always played an important role in our communities,” said Sappey. “We’re extremely fortunate to have Longwood here in Chester County, but they are known throughout the globe for world-class exhibits, learning opportunities, performances and outstanding conservation. Public gardens, like Longwood, also encourage tourism and economic development. So, we benefit from public gardens in numerous ways.”

“We hope today’s hearing raised awareness of the positive economic, social, and environmental impact that public gardens have in our communities, state, and nation,” Redman said. “There is no better way to commemorate Earth Day than to share that important message, and we thank State Representatives Bizzarro and Sappey for the opportunity to do so at Longwood.”

“What a great opportunity to lift up the important role of nature, plants, and the great outdoors,” Roy said. “The 37 Philadelphia-area member gardens that make up America’s Garden Capital generate substantial benefits for the region with more than 1,500 jobs, support to local businesses, increasing nearby property values, and a collective economic impact of about $256 million per year. During this pandemic, with the heightened stress and anxiety, the respite provided by simple things like a walk in these gardens have proved to be more important than ever. Let’s not forget the important role these spaces play in our lives when we reach the other side of this.”

“Public Gardens are oases of hope in a world filled with turmoil. They provide places to disconnect and reconnect with plants and the people closest to us,” Sclar said. “The commonwealth of Pennsylvania is practically the birthplace of public gardens. Over 4 million people visit our Pennsylvania gardens annually, which also employ almost 2,000 full-time employees and collectively provide over $500 million per year in economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. In addition, they are living libraries of plants, the source of all food and air we breathe. We must conserve, preserve, and enhance them. While public gardens engage, educate, and excite millions of people they also supply ecological, environmental, economic, and community health benefits. Particularly on Earth Day, it is important not to forget how indispensable public gardens are. We must ensure they can remain open, accessible, and welcoming to all audiences in their respective communities.”

“On Earth Day and every day, hearings like this one are vital to making the case for the combination of infrastructural, policy and personal change needed to address climate change. At Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, we believe that gardens are uniquely qualified to address climate change through our buildings, operations, research and programs while helping our visitors, members and neighbors to do the same,” Piacentini said. “With our original 1893 glasshouse now joined by several of the greenest buildings in the world, our history of flower shows and exhibits now serves as a platform to demonstrate that sustainable action is the key to restoring human and environmental health. We’re thankful for the opportunity to share our story.”

For more information, contact Sappey’s district office at (484) 200-8264.