In 2018, the Drumthwacket Foundation partnered with the Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) to develop a master plan for the Drumthwacket property, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey, in Princeton. As a large public estate, Drumthwacket has the potential to serve as a model for modern sustainability and its ability to harmonize with the goals of public engagement, education, and historical preservation. The plan received approval in November of 2020 by the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO).
CUES is a unique interdisciplinary collaboration, providing the best science, planning, engineering, and design expertise to address (sub-)urban environmental issues, administered through the SEBS Department of Landscape Architecture. Under the direction of associate professor and CUES co-director Wolfram Hoefer, student interns developed a plan to showcase Drumthwacket as a model for modern sustainability and its ability to harmonize with the goals of public engagement, education and historical preservation.
“A key part of our mission at Drumthwacket is to highlight the incredible strengths and talents of New Jerseyans from around the state,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy, President of the Drumthwacket Foundation. “We are thrilled to partner with the faculty and students from Rutgers University to bring their expertise to Drumthwacket and restore the property’s grounds with native plants, wildflowers, and grasses to create green infrastructure and strengthen our climate resiliency. Our partnership with Rutgers will also include beekeeping, composting, and planting a culinary garden to enhance our sustainability efforts for New Jerseyans who visit the People’s House for generations to come.”
The Planting Design class of associate professor Holly Grace Nelson designed rain gardens to capture and filter storm water runoff from the roof and the parking lot. The project enabled students to not only create a design on paper, but also turn the design drawing into a garden. Planting Design students installed the rain gardens in collaboration with Clifton Landscaping and Rutgers University Facilities. Also involved were volunteers from Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, ISLES and Rutgers Master Gardeners from Mercer County Cooperative Extension to plant new plantings on the property and culinary gardens.
The sustainability initiative at Drumthwacket has been implemented by First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy’ office. Nelson commented, “The First Lady’s emphasis on making Drumthwacket more sustainable made the work more meaningful for all.”
The approved SHPO plan includes:
- Rain gardens to improve stormwater management
- Meadow establishment to reduce mowing and allow native plants, wildflowers and grasses to grow
- Bike racks to promote effective, convenient and sufficient bicycle infrastructure
- Culinary gardens to provide an historic reference to the Drumthwacket estates agricultural past and feature sustainable growing techniques for both perennial and annual crops
- Bee hives to demonstrate the link between pollinators, food production and the overall need for bee-friendly habitats
- Compost pile to produce mulch for the property and serve as a point of education for sustainable home gardening practices
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