Darren Gruner: A Lifetime Promoting Healthy Green Spaces
Darren Gruner has spent a lifetime immersed in the green industry and has loved every minute of it.
“Giving something back to the industry I love is what led me to start Turf’s Up Radio, and why I got involved in Project EverGreen.”
Turfs Up Radio/Totalscape Design
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Darren Gruner has spent a lifetime immersed in the green industry. Cutting lawns at 10 years old cemented a love for caring for the outdoors that has enabled him not only to build successful landscape businesses, but to put his communication skills and love of teaching to work in a variety of projects – most recently as the brainchild behind the green industry focused internet channel, Turf’s Up Radio.
“I’ve always been about teaching when it comes to the green industry,” he says. “Early on in my career, contractors would see my work and ask me how I did it, and I’d share all the details. They’d be like, ‘why would you share all this with your competition,’ but that’s who I am. I love showing people how things are done and sharing. Giving something back to the industry I love is what led me to start Turf’s Up Radio, and why I got involved in Project EverGreen.”
Gruner is also the principal in Totalscape Design based in Ft. Lauderdale.
Making A Difference Matters
For Darren Gruner, giving back can’t simply be about writing a check. He wanted to make a difference by performing a service and taking the opportunity to teach as well. A chance conversation with Project EverGreen’s Executive Director Cindy Code about the organization’s GreenCare for Communities initiative seemed to present the perfect way to give back.
“When I found out what they are doing I was like, I can do that,” he recalls. “I can put in pavers, I can build gardens and give something to a community that does not have green space. Not everybody has the time and resources to do something like this, and for me, taking a day or two and working sun up to sun down on a project that helps a community is a tremendous way to give back something meaningful.”
Gruner’s first volunteer experience with GreenCare for Communities was in Detroit at the Pingree Park renovation project.
“It’s funny, I arrived by myself with no trucks or tools, not really knowing what to expect and with all great intentions. But I really didn’t appreciate the process until I got involved. So many people showed up, and the impact on the community was amazing. I told Cindy I wanted more opportunities.”
Big Apple Projects
A Jersey kid, Gruner was excited when he got the chance to dig into projects in the Big Apple.
“I got involved in the NYC borough projects – the first one (Clinton Community Garden) was so good!” he says. “I know so many people from the Northeast and it was easy for me to grab them and get them involved – I loved being a catalyst for getting others to participate. We did paver walkways, planted vegetables … it felt so good, and the people in the neighborhood pitching in and watching us were so appreciative.”
Gruner regrets that politics can get in the way of conversations about lawn and landscape care and cloud the things that most people believe in.
“We all want to responsibly maintain the environment, we all love the idea of having green spaces and the benefits they provide,” says Gruner. “Thriving green spaces are really the lungs of the city.”
Gruner is happy to have the conversation with anyone, anytime about giving back and showing lawn and landscape professionals how to get involved through “walking the talk” through his involvement in Project EverGreen.
About GreenCare for Communities
Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Communities initiative revitalizes community green spaces. We’ve restored nearly 200 million square feet of healthy turf since 2008. That’s enough oxygen for 20,000 families of four!
Do you know a sports field or a playground that can become a better place for children to play and explore? Or, how about an urban park or community lawn that can help residents exercise and connect? Project EverGreen unites local businesses, community groups, volunteers and in-kind resources to create modern recreational green spaces.
Greener, healthier, cooler environments turn the tide for communities across the US in five key ways:
- Outdoor Enjoyment
- Healthier Lifestyles
- Economic Growth
- Community Development
- Environmental Benefit