Project EverGreen, in partnership with Exmark Manufacturing, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and the Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE), named a winner of the inaugural “Our Winning Green Space” contest.
The winner is In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization in Detroit. These two nonprofit organizations, headed by Joe and Barb Matney, work with the city of Detroit to transform vacant city lots into community gardens and “pocket parks.”
The contest gave municipal parks, recreation and public works departments and nonprofit entities a chance to win a top-of-the-line Exmark Lazer Z X-Series mower package—valued at $15,000—and a “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” renovation project for their city. More than a dozen municipalities and nonprofits submitted entries in the contest.
“We feel very blessed to have won the Project Evergreen ‘Our Winning Green Space’ Contest,” says Barb Matney. “We look forward to continuing to improve our community and create much needed outdoor gathering spaces for resident to enjoy.”
These revitalized green spaces provide neighborhood residents with the means to create a sustainable local food supply and establish a safe place for children to get outside to exercise and play, according to Project EverGreen. Creating viable green spaces in the city also contributes to an improved environmental profile lowering the urban heat island effect (turf can be up 14 degrees cooler than bare soil), removing pollutants from the air and creating a positive feeling and increased interaction among residents.
The organizations plan on deploying the mowers to help maintain existing “pocket parks” and vacant lots in transition to be renovated.
“Project EverGreen is pleased to work with the Matneys and the Warrendale Community to bring vital green space to Detroit neighborhoods,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Turning a vacant lot into a place where kids can play, neighbors can talk and everyone can take pride in are essential to the well-being and security of any community.”
Since the inception of “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” in 2015, the initiative has renovated more than 750,000 square feet of athletic and recreational greens spaces in Atlanta; Cleveland; Milwaukee; North Chicago, Ill.; Belle Plaine, Minn.; Greensboro and Durham, N.C.; San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Round Rock, Texas; East Harlem in New York; Hazlet, N.J.; and Portland, Ore.