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Six Properties to Move to Organic Land Care

EVENT:         Announcement of Organic Land Care Grant

DATE:            Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 10:30am

PLACE:          Mason Square Veterans Memorial, Across From 817 State Street, Springfield, MA

October 28, 2014 -Springfield, MA-
 UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $20,000 to the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management to implement organic land care practices on six municipal properties.

The properties include the Frederick Harris School grounds, Sweeny Playing Field at High School of Commerce, Forest Park Athletic Fields, Tree Top Park, Camp Wilder and the terrace at Mason Square. The results from these pilot sites will provide the foundation to expand the program to 50 school properties and 900 maintained acres of public land.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “The City of Springfield is proud to accept the $20,000 grant from TURI. This is a first step which will start the process of integrating organic fertilizers in the maintenance practices of our open spaces across the City. Once again Springfield will be at the forefront in instituting friendly environmental policies. The use of organic fertilizers will protect our open spaces and water resources which will have long-term impacts in improving the overall health of our environment.”

The project team will conduct soil analyses, implement management plans for pilot sites, develop bid specifications for materials and labor, create a program budget to implement organic land care practices and conduct training for staff, community groups and municipal partners in Northampton and Holyoke.

Patrick J Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management says: “The Department of Parks and Buildings is pleased to be partnering with TURI in our organic land care pilot program. Using an organic approach is not a one-for-one replacement of chemicals but rather it is a systems approach to building soil fertility to prevent disease, insect and weed infestations. Organic land care is about maintaining healthy soil biology, using proper fertilization levels for optimum plant health, using preventative strategies and products to control turf weeds and choosing the right grasses. Ultimately, this approach also eliminates the need for pesticides. We need everyone to take this approach to protect public health, the environment, and most recently, the endangered honeybee populations. We would like thank Maryanne Jule, a Springfield resident, and Lynn Rose, PBRM Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator who initiated the project and obtained funding, as well as, Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics, whose wealth of experience working with municipalities will help us make our vision a reality.”

The City’s goal is to move away from using synthetic fertilizers that can seep into groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes and cause algae blooms, which often result in chemical management. In the long term, synthetic fertilizers damage the natural makeup of soil by killing beneficial organisms.

The City’s parks include bare spots on fields that pose unsafe playing surfaces and encroachment of poison ivy and other weeds that pose life-threatening bee allergic reactions. Rather than choosing to use additional chemicals to battle these issues, the City will move to organic practices and become a model of sustainable open space management.

“The green industry now offers organic products that are affordable and will have a long- term impact in improving the overall health of our turf eco systems,” says Sullivan. “We will also be saving money in the long run.”

“We’re excited that the City of Springfield will use organic land care methods on land where children play to prove over time that you can have healthy, beautiful parks and school grounds without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers,” says Joy Onasch, TURI’s Community and Small Business Program Manager.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Institute

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses. For more information about the TURI Community Grant Program, visit TURI’s community web site. For more information about the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, visit www.turi.org.

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Page last updated:  Tuesday, October 28, 2014 05:42 pm