Organic Land Care Video Transcript



Children Playing on Lawn

Narrator: Organic Land Care... it’s being talked about more and more these days.

Organic vegetables photo

By now, most of us know what "organic" means when it comes to food. But what about for lawns or turf grass?

Organic Land Care photos

River Photo

Organic Land Care generally means that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used. But just as important, "organic" is a whole system approach to lawn care or landscaping. Practices that benefit the entire ecosystem - such as increasing the long-term health of the soil and preventing pollution of the surrounding watershed - are part of organic land care.

Bob Ceccolini - Director, Parks and Recreation, Town of Cheshire

Children playing on ball field photos

Bob Ceccolini: "Cheshire began using organic land care methods in 2005 after a group of concerned citizens came to the town about the use of pesticides on our recreational fields. We decided to go with an organic program for two main reasons - one was to be responsive to the concerns of our citizens and another was to be ahead of any state legislation that might come out that would regulate the use of synthetic products on fields."

Football field and event photos

" One of the fields that we made the transition on was the high school varsity football field. That field has a tremendous amount of use throughout the year. It is used for the football team, it’s used for the lacrosse team, boys and girls, soccer plays on it. They also have high school graduation and the Relay-For-Life, which entails the camping out of thousands of people on that field. And we just had that last weekend and there was rain and heavy usage and it really withstood that use very well."

Photos of the ball fields

"We’re here at McNamara Field, which is one of the areas in town that we’ve switched over to organic lawn care. We have two of our baseball diamonds here. This is the second year of the program and we have seen no drop in the quality of the fields. We’re very pleased with the program and we decided that we are going to stick with it and continue it into the future."

Children playing on ball field photo

Narrator: Other towns are choosing to go organic with their municipal land care for a variety of reasons. In addition to the interest of residents in reducing pesticide use, many are looking at the overall environmental benefits of organic land care.

Karl Guillard, Professor of Agronomy and Teaching Fellow, UCONN Department of Plant Science

Research Farm

Study plot photos

Karl Guillard: "The University of Connecticut has been conducting research on how turf grasses respond to different fertilizer formulations. And what we have found is that the organic fertilizers release nutrients more slowly, thereby limiting water pollution. Grass growth is also more evenly distributed across the season from the organics. And this reduces the surge-growth effects that are often associated with the soluble synthetic fertilizers. Now the organics can also add organic matter to the soil, which has other benefits - such increasing the nutrient and water holding capacity. And this can be beneficial to soils that are low in organic matter to begin with."

Healthy soil photos

Earthworms in soil

"The guiding principle of organic land care is to maintain and improve soil quality. Now a healthy soil is going to have high microbial and earthworm activity - this results in the breakdown of organic matter. The breakdown of organic matter is going to release nutrients, recycle nutrients and improve soil-water infiltration, both of which are going to improve soil quality."

Organic Land Care photos

Narrator: Along with the benefits, however, there are some potential challenges with organic land care. For example, the initial treatment cost may be higher when making the transition to organic methods. Also the use of organic pest control options may not provide the same level of consistent control as the non-organic options.

Karl Guillard, UCONN

Grass turning greener photos

Karl Guillard: "Under some situations, the nitrogen from the organic fertilizers is not released quickly enough to meet the quality demands for the grass. This problem usually diminishes in time, though, as more of the organic fertilizer decomposes and becomes available."

Soil monitoring photos

Compost application

"In addition, soil phosphorus needs to be monitored periodically by testing the soil, especially if composts are going to be applied at rates to meet nitrogen demands of the grass."

Different photos of mowing, core aerating, over seeding, and top dressing with compost

Narrator: In order to succeed with organic land care, employees will need to be trained in the practices. Some of these practices will include getting the right mowing heights, improving core aeration, overseeding with the appropriate mix of grass species, and top dressing with compost.

Organic Land Care photos

Standards booklet photo

Whether the town uses its own employees or hires an outside firm to maintain municipal properties, there is help. The Organic Land Care Program, a project of the Connecticut and Massachusetts Chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association has published Standards for Organic Land Care.

Training course photos

Training courses based on these standards are held yearly. A list of accredited organic land care professionals is available if you are interested in hiring someone to help your town get started. Or you can choose to send your own employees to the training that covers all aspects of organic land care.

Jamie Klase, Director of Public Works, Town of Granby

Granby park - children playing on the fields

Jamie Klase: "Well, this particular piece of land the town bought about two and a half years ago. It’s 45 acres. It’s former farmland that was used for several different crops. We’ve developed about 12 acres. It includes this multi-use field, two additional multi-use fields in the front and a senior baseball field. We were able to develop this park using an organic program with the help of an accredited lawn care specialist. He helped us develop not only the treatments to use, but he was able to also do it within a budget which was our biggest concern."

Close up of grass

"After one full season we found out that this grass crop has done remarkably well. Last year we had a very heavy drought and this is not irrigated and it still thrived, which has been a real benefit for us. We have been very, very happy with that and we are really happy with the results. It continues to fill in this coming season and we are really excited about it."

Mowing at the park

"One of the biggest advantages we found is that it is growing at a much slower rate than a typically fertilized field. We have been able to cut our mowing schedule down to probably half of what we would normally do. It not only saves us time, but it saves us fuel, which these days is a big concern for us."

Organic Land Care photos

River photo

Children on field

DEP logo

Narrator: Organic Land Care - an environmentally beneficial option for your municipality. The websites and phone numbers listed at the end of this video can help you get a program started in your town. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about it.

End credits, Websites and Phone Numbers

Producer: Judy Prill
Directed & Edited by: Dan Nocera
Videography: Lloyd Langevin & Dan Nocera
Written by: J. Prill/E. Kendu
Performed by: Zoo Front
Special Thanks:
Bill Duesing, CT NOFA
Karl Guillard, UCONN Dept. of Plant Science
Bob Ceccolini, Town of Cheshire
Jamie Klase, Town of Granby
Other Contributors:
Karen Filchak, UCONN Cooperative Extension
Kathy Litchfield, Mass NOFA
Greg Foran, Town of Glastonbury
Ginny Walton, Town of Mansfield
Todd Harrington, Harrington’s Organicare, Inc.
Al Festiaiuti, A & B Landscape Services, Inc.

This DVD was funded in part by a grant from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and produced by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Office of Pollution Prevention, in cooperation with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (CT NOFA) Organic Land Care Program and the University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science.

For more information on the Standards for Organic Land Care, related training, and a list of accredited organic land care professionals, please contact CT NOFA at (203) 888-5146 or go to

For a copy of this DVD or more information on DEP’s organic land care project, please contact the Office of Pollution Prevention at (860) 424-3297 or go to

Content Last Updated on February, 2009