Project EverGreen in partnership with Exmark Manufacturing, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE), is pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural “Our Winning Green Space” contest.

The contest gave municipal parks, recreation and public works departments and non-profit 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 non-profit organizations submitted entries in the contest.

The winner is In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization in Detroit, Michigan. These two non-profit organizations, headed by Joe and Barb Matney, work with the City of Detroit to transform vacant city lots into community gardens and “pocket parks.”
“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.”

Joe and Barb Matney (left) of In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization, and Dan Pagel of Exmark dealer Weingartz Utica, stand next to the mowers that will help maintain green spaces in the Detroit community.

Joe and Barb Matney (left) of In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization, and Dan Pagel of Exmark dealer Weingartz Utica, stand next to the mowers that will help maintain green spaces in the Detroit community.


These revitalized green spaces not only provide neighborhood residents with the means to create a sustainable local food supply, but establish a safe place for children to get outside to exercise and play.

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 Matnys 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.”

“This valued partnership aligns with our mission of advancing the sports turf management profession through education, awareness programs and industry development,” said Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). “The City of Detroit is well-deserving of this award and we look forward to working with local parents and athletes on the importance of maintaining a safe playing surface to prevent injuries.”

Since the inception of “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” in 2015, the initiative has renovated more than 750,000 sq. ft. of athletic and recreational greens spaces in Atlanta, Cleveland, Milwaukee; North Chicago, Ill.; Belle Plaine, Minn.; Greensboro and Durham, North Carolina, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Round Rock, Texas; East Harlem, NYC; Hazlet, NJ and Portland, Oregon.