Project EverGreen kicks off ‘Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.’ Initiative


In conjunction with the Sports Turf Managers Association and Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance, Project EverGreen kicked off the first project for its “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” Initiative Oct. 7.

The initiative was designed to restore green spaces for children and adults alike to play, exercise, interact and enjoy.

The idea of the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative grew from Project EverGreen’s “Art of Green Spaces Poster Contest,” where students from kindergarten through 12th grade submit drawings reflecting what green spaces mean to them.

“We wanted to take the program out of the classroom, and we know how important outdoor green spaces are to kids,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “We thought that this was a great extension of the ‘Art of Green Spaces’ program.”

The nonprofit organization planted the first seeds of the “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” initiative in its hometown of Cleveland, where it revitalized soccer field behind the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center. The total estimated cost to renovate the 120-yd. x 60-yd. field was $15,000.

The project was completed with the volunteer help of four landscape companies, including Weed Pro, Weed Man, Schill Grounds Management and Morton’s Landscape Development, in addition to 500 pounds of seed donated by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance. Weed Man fertilized the mass amounts of clover that previously occupied the field; Weed Pro and Schill core aerated the field; and Morton seeded and top-dressed the field.

“We do a lot of compost projects like this,” said Barry Morton, president and CEO of Morton’s Landscape Development. “I just wanted to give back.”

Morton supplied his own compost and blower truck for the renovation.

Local children also had an opportunity to participate in the renovation process by removing rocks from the field. Approximately 30 students and children from the rec center’s after-school program and local soccer teams contributed to the effort.

“We want to help the children not only create a great playing surface but help them understand how important it is to maintain that surface and how it impacts their lives,” said Code.

The field will be ready next spring, and, with the help of the Sports Turf Managers Association, Project EverGreen plans to soon expand “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” on a national level.

“This is a template for a national launch,” said Code. “We want to take this program nationwide and renovate and revitalize sports fields or playing surfaces all across the country.”

Code said she hopes to go from renovating a few fields this year to at least 50 next year.

“We want to show the community and the city and the residents how healthy playing surfaces can impact the lives of their kids and the lives of everyone living in the neighborhood because green spaces naturally attract people to come together,” she said.

Updated: 10/8/14



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