From the South Orange Environmental Commission:
All are invited to join a Zoom meeting on chemical-free lawn care Friday, February 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The presentation by nationally-known organic consultants Chip Osborne and Jay Feldman is sponsored by Stonyfield Farm, part of their effort to promote healthier playing fields.
The South Orange Environmental Commission has long been making efforts to persuade both South Orange and Maplewood and their shared school system to stop using chemicals to maintain the grass on their playing fields. Read about their efforts in this story on Village Green: “South Orange Tests Greener Ways to Manage Grass Turf.”
This is year two of chemical-free maintenance of the two=acre playing field at the base of Floods Hill in South Orange. A $5,000 grant the Environmental Commission received from Stonyfield Farms in the spring of 2020 has been a big help, as has advice from Mr. Osborne and Mr. Feldman.
The Floods Hill field is especially challenging to maintain since it sees heavy year-round use. The grass on all the other SOMA playing fields gets a head start with the help of turf blankets. These are large, woven polypropylene sheets staked out in the fall to promote early spring grass growth as it comes out of dormancy. This is not a practical solution on Floods Hill where sledders would rip it up. What helps there is early spring slit seeding. That tucks the seed down below the surface where it is more likely to germinate since it is moist and protected from wind and birds.
In the past it was thought that having one or more artificial turf playing fields would be a good way to give the natural grass fields time to recover from heavy use. But research has shown them to be less safe, more expensive, and worse for the environment than grass.
None of the South Orage fields were treated with herbicide in 2020, a decision Pete Travers, Director of South Orange Recreation Department, made on behalf of the SOMA Fields Fees Trust Fund.
Join the Zoom meeting Friday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81019253034?pwd=VkNyY01rL29EUWphMllialErT0oydz09.