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The Field Fund 2018-2019

Project Details

Year: 2019
Location: Martha's Vineyard
Project Manager: Mollie Doyle, Dardanella Slavin, Rebekah Thomson

The Field Fund has two major goals:

  1. To improve the grass athletic playing fields on Martha's Vineyard
  2. To provide information and support for other communities to maintain or develop organic grass athletic playing fields

The Field Fund offers both supplemental maintenance and renovations of playing fields; along with training and support for our partner schools and towns personnel, with the goal of improving the quality of these important recreational spaces for the Island community. Thoughtful, data-driven maintenance allows for intensive use, while minimizing surface-related injuries, rainouts, irrigation use, and synthetic inputs. The organization offers supplemental maintenance for 10 playing fields. They persistently refine maintenance practices, relying heavily on a Level Spike aerator, slit seeder, Verti Drain deep aeration, an Air2G2, and a new mower. They are also exploring the use of local composts and compost teas. Porous soil and positive microbial activity decrease the amount of fertilizer necessary for healthy turf and help alleviate bacteria and fungus in the root zone. Longer roots improve heat and drought stress tolerance, requiring less water to irrigate. 

The Field Fund is embracing the idea of other earth friendly amendments such as worm castings and microclover as alternatives to organic fertilizer. As they build healthy root systems and boost organic content, the fields require less and less irrigation and amendment. The installation of a new non-potable well along with an efficient irrigation system has drawn attention not only to schools, but to homeowners about what they are watering their lawns with and the importance of efficient systems. Towns, public health officials and groundskeepers are studying these efforts. 

In the longer term, the Field Fund goal is to partner with every school and town on Martha's Vineyard and upgrade another field each year, as needed.

The Field Fund's media outreach has raised the profile for natural grass playing fields near and far. The organization has become a resource for other schools and communities looking for ways to improve their fields and fight plastic ones. A great new argument that The Field Fund’s work has shown is that grass fields serve as climate mitigation tools by sequestering carbon in their soil and offering a natural cooling effect. Because healthy fields serve as carbon sinks, The Field Fund Inc.’s maintenance – even with mowing and aerating – is estimated to be carbon negative.

The Field Fund's  website, https://www.fieldfundinc.org, is a critical means of communicating commitment to practices that are not only sustainable, but regenerative. The site has helped to forge alliances with other organizations – including the new Island Climate Action Network, which is now the leading climate mitigation group on the Island. Working in concert with more than 30 organizations and companies on the island has begun to spread the message and engaged people in conversations about how grass can help cool our rapidly warming climate.

This website provides a wealth of information on organic management of athletic playing fields and case studies for each of the playing fields managed by The Field Fund.

This page updated Wednesday October 13 2021
The Field Fund Oerview