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PBS Program to Showcase Glenstone’s Organic Lawn

Glenstone's lawn was a healthy green under magnificent blue skies on Tuesday. If you look closely you'll see livestock grazing near the property's massive pond.

Glenstone's lawn was a healthy green under magnificent blue skies on Tuesday. If you look closely you'll see livestock grazing near the property's massive pond.

The natural lawn care movement in the United States will get a major boost in August when Growing A Greener World, hosted by Joe Lamp’l, showcases the organic lawn renovation at Glenstone, the modern art museum in Potomac, Md. The episode, estimated to be watched by nearly a million people nationwide in its first run, is scheduled to be aired in late August.

SafeLawns was on-hand, both to observe and to participate in the segment. We have been the lead consultants on the project since its inception in July of 2010 and the Growing a Greener World team is the first film crew to be allowed on the 160-acre Glenstone property, which has not had any synthetic chemicals used on its grounds since our arrival.

Outdoor taping sessions at the University of Maryland turf research farm were truncated due to blustery winds and rain. At first glance, however, many of the plots fertilized with compost were holding their own against plots coated with a synthetic chemical fertilizer.

Outdoor taping sessions at the University of Maryland turf research farm were truncated due to blustery winds and rain. At first glance, however, many of the plots fertilized with compost were holding their own against plots coated with a synthetic chemical fertilizer.

From atop a ladder at the University of Maryland research farm only subtle differences could be observed in the 10-by-10-foot plots.

From atop a ladder at the University of Maryland research farm only subtle differences could be observed in the 10-by-10-foot plots.

The two-day shooting session began in dreary, cold and wet conditions on Monday that ultimately led the crew indoors to the College Park laboratory of Dr. Mark Carroll and Dr. Thomas Turner, the two University of Maryland scientists who are working on an organic lawn research project with SafeLawns and Glenstone. The following day in Potomac, however, temperatures were in the 60s under brilliant blue skies.

“When you look at this place, the only thing you can say is ‘Wow,’” said Lamp’l, who is in his third season with this show.

Dr. Mark Carroll of the University of Maryland chats with Lamp'l on camera during Monday's indoor taping session.

Dr. Mark Carroll of the University of Maryland chats with Lamp'l on camera during Monday's indoor taping session.

Aided by much-needed two-day rain that helped Maryland out of a significant drought situation, the lawns at Glenstone were radiantly green on Tuesday.

“Conventional wisdom and even university research would suggest that you can’t do what we’re doing here — which is growing green grass organically and saving money at the same time,” I told Joe on camera. “I think this project is going to go a long way toward changing people’s perceptions of what an organic lawn can look like.”

Host Joe Lamp'l enjoyed the sunny day that followed a wet, raw Monday of shooting.

Host Joe Lamp'l enjoyed the sunny day that followed a wet, raw Monday of shooting.

Joe was also afforded the opportunity to chat with Glenstone’s founders, Mitchell and Emily Rales, who reside in a home opposite from the museum. In a wide-ranging interview, the founders reiterated a commitment to the organic approach that they feel is better for their family, their staff and visitors, as well as their bottom line.

“The initial reaction here among our grounds crew was, ‘No, this can’t be done; it will be a disaster,’” said Mitchell Rales. “But one thing I’ve learned about leadership from my business career is that it has to come from the top. If you don’t drive it from the top it can’t happen. So we said, ‘No problem. Let’s bring in an advisor.” Because if we don’t stop and force ourselves to learn how to do this, then it will never happen . . . Lo and behold, going cold turkey, with a little good advice, it wasn’t such a hard thing.”

Videographer Carl Pennington tracks Joe Lamp'l's interview with Mitchell and Emily Rales.

Videographer Carl Pennington tracks Joe Lamp'l's interview with Mitchell and Emily Rales.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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