Virginia School District Named Winner of the “Our Winning Green Space” Contest

When Logan Horne heard about the “Our Winning Green Spaces” contest he decided to enter, but never thought he had a chance of winning. He thought wrong.

It’s a medical fact: Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is good for you.

A wealth of research indicates that escaping to a neighborhood park, hiking through the woods, or spending a weekend by the lake can lower a person’s stress levels, decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk asthma, allergies, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while boosting mental health and increasing life expectancy.

Planting a Stake in a Detroit Neighborhood Comeback

A Renovated Pingree Park Gives East Detroit
Community A Springboard for Change

Planting trees, improving grass play areas and painting backstops in November doesn’t seem to fit with the season when leaves and temperatures are falling, but the transformation of Detroit’s Pingree Park is starting to bloom right before the eyes of neighborhood residents.

Project EverGreen in collaboration with local business partners, including Troy-Mich.-based Magna International, community groups and the City of Detroit, started the renewal of the 18-acre park November 3-4 when about 200 volunteers pruned and planted trees, filled in ruts in the natural grass playing area, painted backstops and removed weeds and sticks from the playground.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (left) with neighborhood resident and volunteer Minnie Knox during the Pingree Park renovation project.

The project, however, is more than an aesthetic makeover for this park, it represents the revival of a community hub that serves as a gathering area for generations of east side Detroit residents, and new families moving into the Pingree Park neighborhood.

“Pingree Park and its neighbors are the real winners,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “The improved space generates enough oxygen for nearly 15,000 people per day, and the living, breathing park functions as the lungs of the surrounding neighborhood.”

The renovation work will boost the health and well-being of the neighborhood, raise home values and serve as a spark for nearby development. They will also provide increased safety for kids playing on the grass sports fields and establish a community hub for nearby residents to connect with one another.

Volunteers worked to spread infield mix on one of the refurbished baseball fields.

“We’re passionate about our community and in keeping our neighborhoods healthy and beautiful and we know how lucky we are to make a living in the landscape industry,” says Matt Scott, director of operations for Troy Clogg Landscape Associates, the lead contractor for the project. “It was great to see local residents, businesses and community groups working side-by-side with Project EverGreen and our team. It was very rewarding.”

Minnie Knox, a 50-year resident of the neighborhood says, “This is the boost we needed to help return Pingree to its former glory. Our kids and grandkids grew up here. I’m just so happy.”

Local businesses and Pingree Park neighbors clean up debris from trees that were pruned in the park.

Plans for the second phase of the project call for creating new walking paths, building a grass amphitheater and planting new trees on E. Forest Ave. These updates are scheduled to take place in the spring of 2018.

Presenting Sponsors

Magna International
Lear Corporation

Supporting Sponsors

Advanced Turf Solutions
Billy Goat
City of Detroit Parks & Recreation Department
Cool Planet
Kujo Yard Wear
Lush Lawn
MACC Development
Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association
Pingree Park Community Group
PBI Gordon
Real Green Systems
Superior Groundcover
The Davey Tree Expert Co.
Troy Clogg Landscape Associates
Weed Man

Food Sponsors – Absopure, Potbelly

Personal Experience Drives Change for Hazlet, NJ Field Renovation

By Alyssa Sanchez

Don Pucillo, president of Performance Nutrition, took the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” restoration project for the Hazlet Youth Athletic League at Steven B. Paterson Memorial Football Field in Hazlet, New Jersey, personally. As a kid he played baseball on a field in desperate need of a facelift, while he saw other kids played on more manicured fields.

Shortly after the ribbon cutting event at the newly renovated Hazlet field in May, Pucillo reflected on the project.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. The baseball fields we had growing up were nothing but rocks and dirt. You had have nerves of steel to be an infielder when we played. When I heard what was going on here in Hazlet, I wanted to help.

“We just wanted to create a safe place for the kids to play,” added Pucillo. “Every kid should have a safe place to play, and I’m proud to say that now Hazlet kids have one.”

After a regrade and reseeding of the field, and two applications of Performance Nutrition’s NutriSmart environmentally friendly eco-fertilizer and granular soil inoculant, the Hazlet field had a grand opening to commemorate the newly renovated field on May 18, 2017. This major upgrade was done in partnership with volunteers from Performance Nutrition, Project EverGreen and Natural Green Lawn Care.

Pucillo was excited to participate in the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” as a program sponsor because he believes in promoting a corporate culture that extends beyond employees and customers and into the community as well.

With their corporate headquarters in Hazlet, Performance Nutrition, a division of LidoChem, Inc., the company’s leadership saw the field’s restoration project as an opportunity to give back to the local community.

Bennett Jackson, who once played as a child for the Hazlet Hawks and is a free agent in the NFL, was present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He was quoted in a local newspaper as saying:

“I remember playing on that half-dirt, half-grass field over there. This is a huge thing for the community, having a nice grass field like this will be great for the kids and for the town.”

The field was closed for a decade. The renovation began last fall and the field opened in May in time for spring sports. Paterson field now offers the Hazlet neighborhood a safer and greener community space for more than 1,500 children and adults.

The author is with What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in Mt. Vernon, Washington

“Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” Hits A Home Run With Oregon Project

Call it an extreme makeover but call it a vast improvement.

The athletic and recreation fields at Walker Elementary School in Ashland, Oregon had struck out long ago when it came to providing a safe, attractive location to hold a ballgame. The fields were unused and not safe for children to use.

That isn’t the case anymore after Project EverGreen and its “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative stepped up to the plate and hit a home run.
The school’s athletic fields received an extensive renovation and revitalization in the fall of 2016 courtesy of Project EverGreen and the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance, along with volunteers from the Southern Oregon Landscape Association, Ashland (Oregon) School District and the Ashland Little League.

Volunteers, including Little League players who are chasing down fly balls on the new turf this season, pitched in to help improve the fields’ playability and increase player safety. The project covered more than 139,000 sq. ft. of turf and started with cleaning up the debris from the playing surface.

The playing fields at Walker Elementary before the HTHK renovation project.

This was followed by weed removal and application of weed control products, soil aeration by volunteers from the Southern Oregon Landscape Association, and overseeding with more than 2,000 lbs. of drought tolerant seed and top-dressing donated by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance.

Dave Sommer, head of maintenance for Ashland School District, said the fields now receive consistent usage and that brings a smile to his face and others in the community as well.

“I see people out here using them all the time on the weekends and the school can have their kids come over here for PE and recess again,” adds Sommer. “It’s great to see what a difference we could make here.”

The maintenance staff at Walker Elementary has incorporated ongoing, sustainable water-smart irrigation practices, core aeration, turf fertility and overseeding initiatives to keep the fields healthy.

The renovated fields at Walker Elementary this spring.

“It is a night and day difference for the playing surfaces at Walker Elementary School and for the teams of the Ashland Little League,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Investments in renovating and revitalizing athletic and recreational green spaces must be done to ensure these areas are available for children and the greater community to enjoy and benefit from.”

Managed green spaces that include healthy grass, plants and trees results in better park use, increased safety and the creation of a community hub for long-time neighbors, their grandchildren and the next generation moving into the neighborhood. Additionally, the grass, plants and trees will clean the air, sequester carbon and provide oxygen. This truly is a win-win situation.

Sommer also noted how the improvements in the field have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the community.

“The parks and recreation department came out and built up the pitcher’s mound and the city received a grant to extend the backstop and fences, put in covered dugouts and possibly even a back fence,” said Sommers.
It’s not all good news though, as Sommer notes, with a chuckle, “We’ve been finding a lot of fouled balls in our shop yard, which is something that never happened before.”