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Creating Safeground: Transitioning Western Massachusetts Parks to an Organic Land Care Management Plan

Project Details

Year: 2012
Project Manager: Anne Capra, Principal Planner
Partners: Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Safeground Organic Landcare, Look Memorial Park/City of Northhampton, Town of Longmeadow, Town of Ludlow, Town of Agawam, and the Wistariahurst Museum/City of Holyoke


Designated areas in five municipal parks in Hampshire and Hampden counties transitioned from the use of synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to organic practices and materials. These parks – School Street Park in Agawam, Look Park in Northampton, Greenwood Park in Longmeadow, Town Center Park in Ludlow and Wistariahurst Museum grounds in Holyoke – attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year making it the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and beauty of organic lawn care. The project team created public education workshops, a “how-to” video, public service announcements, lawn flags and banners to protect the health of children, adults and pets in Western Massachusetts. The ultimate goal was to spur statewide adoption of practices that reduce or eliminate synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use on all public grounds throughout Massachusetts.


Hundreds of residents in the five communities with five demonstration projects, as well as other residents of the Pioneer Valley, received information about alternatives to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and methods for implementing an organic land care program on their own property and/or in other public locations.  The program participated in the the following events: Week of the Young Child Parade, A Green Day at the Park, Lawnathon Festival, and Long Meddowe Days.  At these events, the project coordinators were able to discuss with attendees the alternatives of pesticide use and was given informational handouts.  A workshop was held at the Wistariahurst Museum where they were able to educate 30 contractors in an introductory course in organic land care. Bernadette Giblin, Lead Project Consultant, completed Measuring Water and Soil Health Using Digital Imagery, a summary of data collected, methodologies, and analyses used to measure water and soil health using digital imagery.  This research project was performed by Bernadette as a match project was performed by Bernadette as a match to the project with assistance from Smith College.  Over 100 acres of public parkland was transitioned to pesticide free, organic land care programs. Four out of the five participating parks will expand their organic land care programs to new areas in 2012-2013. 

This page updated Monday August 21 2017