STMA, Project Evergreen kick off “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.”

October 8, 2014
Volunteers from Weed Pro, Weed Man, Schill Grounds Management and Morton's Landscape Development arrived early to begin revitalizing the field.

Volunteers from Weed Pro, Weed Man, Schill Grounds Management and Morton’s Landscape Development arrived early to begin revitalizing the field.

In conjunction with the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance, Project EverGreen completed the first project for its “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative by revitalizing a soccer field Cleveland.

The initiative was designed to restore green spaces for the community to enjoy.

The idea of the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative grew from Project EverGreen’s “Art of Green Spaces Poster Contest,” where students from kindergarten through 12th grade submit drawings reflecting what green spaces mean to them.

“We wanted to take the program out of the classroom, and we know how important outdoor green spaces are to kids,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “We thought that this was a great extension of the ‘Art of Green Spaces’ program.”

Barry Morton, president and CEO of Morton's Landscape Development, provided his own compost and blower truck for the field repair.

Barry Morton, president and CEO of Morton’s Landscape Development, provided his own compost and blower truck for the field repair.

The nonprofit organization planted the first seeds of the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative in its hometown of Cleveland, where it revamped the soccer field behind the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center. The total estimated cost to renovate the 120-by-60 yard field was $15,000.

The project was completed with the volunteer help of four landscape companies, including Weed Pro, Weed Man, Schill Grounds Management and Morton’s Landscape Development, in addition to 500 pounds of seed donated by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance.

“We do a lot of compost projects like this,” says Barry Morton, president and CEO of Morton’s Landscape Development. “I just wanted to give back.”

Morton supplied his own compost and blower truck for the renovation.

Volunteers aerate, seed and topdress the field.

Volunteers aerate, seed and topdress the field.

Local children had an opportunity to participate in the renovation process by removing rocks from the field. About 30 students and children from the recreation center’s after-school program and local soccer teams contributed to the effort.

“We want to help the children not only create a great playing surface, but help them understand how important it is to maintain that surface and how it impacts their lives,” Code says.

With the help of the STMA, Project EverGreen plans to soon expand “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” on a national level.

“This is a template for a national launch,” Code says. “We want to take this program nationwide and renovate and revitalize sports fields or playing surfaces all across the country.”

Code says she hopes to go from renovating a few fields this year to at least 50 next year.

“We want to show the community and the city and the residents how healthy playing surfaces can impact the lives of their kids and the lives of everyone living in the neighborhood because green spaces naturally attract people to come together,” she says.

The field will be ready next spring.

Photos: Allison Barwacz

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