Grass Roots initiative to expand in ’16

February 17, 2016 -  By

The National Turfgrass Federation will expand its Grass Roots initiative in 2016 with the addition of an exhibit at a high profile soccer complex in Maryland and efforts to promote the National Greenscape Corridor in Washington D.C.

The efforts come on the heels of the first full year of the Grass Roots exhibit at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington. The exhibit was constructed in fall 2013 and the 2014 growing season. It opened in October 2014 and has welcomed an estimated 30,000 visitors, said Grass Roots Program Coordinator Geoffrey Rinehart. The exhibit is scheduled to run through at least the 2018 growing season.

“Visitors have engaged with the exhibit in a variety of ways, ranging from exploring the interactive exhibits; putting a ball on the golf green or kicking a soccer ball on the sports field during one of our Grass Roots Family Fun Day events held on several weekends throughout the year; participating in one of our guided tours; or just relaxing with a picnic under a tree or in the lawn areas,” Rinehart said in a email to supporters earlier this month. The exhibit staff also have hosted tours for regional master gardener groups, high school horticulture students, elementary school students, local garden clubs and more.

“Hosting a tour for the EPA WaterSense program staff and participating in National Golf Day are perfect examples of how the Grass Roots exhibit has been an important outreach tool to policymakers here in the nation’s capital,” Rinehart said. “Grass Roots provides a tangible way on behalf of the entire turfgrass industry to outreach to and educate the general public, policymakers and the broader horticulture community about the important roles turfgrass plays in communities across the country.”

To expand the reach of the Grass Roots initiative, which is funded by industry donors, construction is underway for a 1-acre exhibit at the Maryland SoccerPlex, located in Boyds, Md., about 25 miles northwest of Washington. The exhibit will be located adjacent to the complex’s stadium and will feature 10 interactive educational displays, a similar format to the arboretum exhibit.

In addition to many soccer leagues, the Maryland SoccerPlex hosts regional and national youth soccer tournaments, is the home of the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League and has more than 600,000 visitors per year.

Initial funding for the construction and initial maintenance for the SoccerPlex exhibit was provided by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The SoccerPlex turf care staff will maintain the exhibit.

Additionally, the Grass Roots initiative is working to expand the development of a National National Greenscape Corridor in the Washington D.C. area in 2016. The goal of this project is to promote and educate visitors about the importance of turfgrass within culturally historic landscapes, such as the National Mall. Last April, the staff partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival to sponsor a National Greenscape Corridor Bike Tour. More than 80 participants bicycled a 12-mile route starting downtown with stops at Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall before concluding at the Grass Roots exhibit. Turf managers at both stops provided information about the importance of turf in each landscape and participants took a guided tour of the Grass Roots exhibit at the conclusion of the ride.

Grass Roots staff are working with NCBF to plan another ride this spring. They’re also looking into working with a bike tour company to conduct similar tours on a regular basis.

Related:

LM Editor Marisa Palmieri visited Grass Roots in July

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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