Heidelberg Park, the largest green space in the Borough of Heidelberg, is transitioning to an organic-based, natural grass management program. Located among a line of industrial sites on the footprint of an old scrap yard, the 2 acres of Heidelberg green space provides a community gathering place and public play space for recreation, sport, and community festivals.
Heidelberg has been selected for a pilot project from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell and the Natural Grass Advisory Group™ (NGAG). The project is part of a larger effort to support communities in southwestern Pennsylvania to create and maintain safe, healthy playing fields.
Natural grass playing fields provide healthy green space for athletics and other recreation. Organic management of natural grass builds a healthy ecosystem and eliminates the need for hazardous pesticides.
The project comes from a $1,000 grant from TURI, which was made possible by funding from The Heinz Endowments. To spearhead the pilot, NGAG has matched the TURI grant with in-kind services that include soil compaction testing, soil nutrient testing, agronomic planning, maintenance coordination and hands-on support for Heidelberg Public Works.
“We’re thrilled that we are the recipients of these organic land care services that will help us protect the local waterways and public health,” says Janice Adamski, Borough Manager. “Heidelberg Park is our most used park that includes playing fields, walking trails, bocce court, horseshoes, playground and a picnic pavilion area. By improving our fields, residents can enjoy it to its full potential while also receiving environmental benefits as well.”
NGAG Lead Advisor Jerad Minnick shared, “Our NGAG team is grateful to TURI and Heidelberg for giving us the opportunity to support their community and create a model for others. Residents of communities, like Heidelberg, deserve to have green space that can host open play, sports and community events. Good quality grass filters CO2 from the air, soaks up and filters run-off water, and provides ambient cooling on hot summer days. Heidelberg Park is unique and it’s a privilege to be involved.”
The project will focus on building soil microbial life and balancing soil nutrients needed for grass to thrive. The thriving grass will have increased CO2 sequestration from the air and will build soil organic matter. Increasing soil organic matter by just 1% is estimated to increase soil water holding by more than 20,000 gallons per acre. While cleaning the air and soaking up run-off, the grass will be smoother, softer and safer for all field users. Look for updates on the Pilot Project in Heidelberg Park from TURI, NGAG, and the Borough of Heidelberg throughout the summer, fall and into spring, 2020.
About TURI: The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides resources and tools to help businesses, municipalities, and communities in Massachusetts find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. For more information, visit www.turi.org.
About NGAG: Natural Grass Advisory GroupTM is the USA’s first independent support firm solely for high-use, natural grass sport surfaces. Working with clients around the world, from Parks to Pros, NGAG provides education, data analysis, maintenance support, and project services. All NGAG work is specific to improving high-use natural grass in order for clients to increase use and reduce repairs. NGAG results prove that indeed #GrassCanTakeMore®! For more information visit www.naturalgrass.org or contact NGAG at GrassStain@naturalgrass.org.