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Organic Grass Playing Fields

Natural Grass Playing Field Case Study: Springfield, MA

  Springfield’s organic management of natural grass has eliminated the need for pesticides, while providing a practical playing surface that fully meets the needs of athletes and others who use the parks. The Parks Department also notes that their field management choices help to protect water quality in the Connecticut River. This case study provides detailed information on the number of hours played at three parks in Springfield: two large complexes and one single, full-sized soccer field. Communities wishing to estimate the number of playable hours on a soccer field can use Treetop Park, the full-sized soccer field, as the most relatable model of the three parks discussed here. Treetop Park is used for approximately 1,050 hours of practice, play, and informal activity annually. Download PDF file (947.90 kB)

Natural Grass Playing Field Case Study: Marblehead, MA

  THE TOWN OF MARBLEHEAD, Massachusetts, has managed all of its playing fields organically since 2002. This approach had its origins in a policy adopted by Marblehead’s Board of Health in 1998, which noted the adverse health and environmental effects of pesticides and made a commitment to protecting children’s health. The town has achieved its performance goals by focusing on building and maintaining a healthy ecosystem with active microbial life in the soil and a strong root system. Key elements of the program are frequent aeration, frequent mowing, soil testing, and the use of organic fertilizer and soil amendments. Note: This case study was originally published July 2019. Labor costs were revised November 2020 based on information provided by Marblehead Recreation and Parks. Download PDF file (489.35 kB)

Natural Grass Playing Field Case Study: Martha's Vineyard, MA

  Communities on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts have partnered with a non-profit group called The Field Fund to manage their natural grass playing fields with organic maintenance. The playing fields support the full demands of local youth and adult recreational activities, and increase community access to pesticide-free play spaces. This case study provides information on maintenance practices, costs, use, successes, and challenges for three natural grass field complexes on Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs School Fields, West Tisbury School Fields, and West Tisbury Town Field. The maintenance practices highlighted here were created to meet Martha’s Vineyard’s specific conditions and needs, these methods can be adapted to any town, school, or community looking for a cost effective way to maintain their playing fields. This is the third in a series of case studies created by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), intended to share the experiences of communities that have chosen to invest in organically managed natural grass athletic fields. The first two case studies described the experiences of the City of Springfield and the Town of Marblehead, which show what can be accomplished with use of core organic management techniques. This case study presents how precision technologies can be used alongside core organic management techniques, for those communities that have resources for additional investment. Download PDF file (1.24 MB)