Scotts funds program to benefit Florida waterways

February 10, 2014 -  By

ScottsMiracleGro_300The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. launched a three-year program across Florida to provide $5 million in financial support to environmental groups and academic institutions focused on scientific research to help identify potential solutions to the state’s water quality issues. The company also plans to launch a multimedia consumer campaign to remind homeowners how to maintain healthy lawns and gardens while also protecting the state’s critical water resources.

“As the leader in consumer lawn and garden care, we have a responsibility to help our consumers use our products correctly in order to be good stewards of the environment,” said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO. “As a resident of the Treasure Coast, and as someone with a passion to be on the water, I have witnessed the challenges in the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon and other waterways. I want Floridians to be confident that we’re helping them do their part to help protect our most valuable natural resources.”

Over the past several years, Scotts has aimed to improve the environmental profile of its lawn care products by removing phosphorus, reducing the amount of total nitrogen while also increasing the amount of slow-release nitrogen. The company introduced innovations in its widely-used lawn spreaders to ensure on-target fertilizer application. Additionally, enhanced instructions on product packaging provide consumers with clear instructions on how to use the products successfully while also helping to protect water quality.

“We have an obligation to help protect the environment and to ensure our products are being used correctly,” Hagedorn said. “We embrace that obligation and are committing resources that will take us beyond what we’ve done before. We are proud to take a leadership role in this effort and we encourage others to do the same.”

Facets of Scott’s program are as follows:

1. Investing in Florida-based scientific research

The company’s Florida commitment includes funding of environmental research and academic organizations that are focused on having fact-based conversations about the impact of lawn and garden activities on water quality and developing effective solutions, regardless of the nutrient source.

The first of these projects is a two-year research grant to the Ocean Resource Conservation Association, based in Ft. Pierce, Fla., that will focus on the Indian River Lagoon. The research will map point and non-point sources of nutrients and other potential pollutants flowing into the lagoon that can help focus public and private investments on the highest priority actions that might improve and protect water and wildlife in the lagoon.

Chris Allen, president of Scotts south region in West Palm Beach, Fla., said the only stipulation placed on the grant is that the research process and results be transparent and include input and peer review from a range of scientists.

“There are a lot of complicated issues that are causing water quality concerns in Florida,” Allen said. “We are looking to independent, science-based research to help better understand the root causes of these problems and to suggest solutions.”

2. Homeowner education

Beginning this spring, Scotts will invest in radio and online advertising; a new, web-based consumer resource  via www.scotts.com/florida; and in-store messaging as part of an effort to remind Florida consumers about the importance of practicing responsible lawn and garden activities. Additionally, Scotts will distribute Florida Friendly Lawn Care educational materials directly to Florida households. And, in-hand with that effort, it has launched a website www.floridafriendlylawncare.com. The company also will offer education tools to city and county governments and elected officials to utilize in their communication with local residents.

3. Restore natural resources

A third component of the company’s commitment includes partnering with environmental restoration groups on water restoration projects. The first of which will provide 80,000 salt marsh plants through a partnership with Tampa Bay Watch.

Called “Bay Grasses in Classes,” Tampa-area middle and high schools students will tend native plant nurseries on school grounds. Those students and Scotts associates will transfer the plants to designated restoration sites within the Tampa Bay estuary. The restoration plantings help clean the bay by filtering nutrients, while the students learn real-world environmental and agronomic education principles that will help them become the next generation of stewards for Florida’s waterways.

4. Community gardening

A final component of the program will include the creation or support of community gardens and green spaces in every Florida county over the next three years as part of the company’s GRO1000 initiative.  In collaboration with partners such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Plant-A-Row For the Hungry, the GRO1000 initiate will establish community gardens in 1,000 U.S. communities by 2018.

“The benefits of community gardens have been documented countless times and we’ve seen just how powerful a garden can be as part of our GRO1000 effort,” Hagedorn said. “Whether through large projects or smaller contributions, we’re confident our GRO1000 commitment to Florida will provide both human and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state.”

LM Staff

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