The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 27, 2007


RecCom opts for organic field maintenance

Beginning this spring, exclusively organic methods will be used to maintain playing fields under the care of the Carlisle Recreation Commission (RecCom). The Commission voted on April 2 to stop the use of all non-organic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on the Spalding and Banta-Davis playing fields.

RecCom fields

Located next to the Carlisle Public School and the Diment Tot Lot playground on Church Street, Spalding Field contains overlapping areas for baseball, softball and soccer, and is used heavily both by the school and after-school sports programs. The Banta-Davis Land, off Bedford Road, includes one baseball, one softball, and one multi-purpose field surrounded by a paved running track, and is used primarily by community sports programs.

According to information released by the RecCom, the Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group was instrumental in encouraging the adoption of the new maintenance program.

Recreation Co-Directors Cindy Nock and Jan Deyoe will be responsible for day-to-day oversight of the field care. They hire several people to help with mowing (Dan Mosley), lining the fields, maintaining the irrigation system and applying fertilizers.

Synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers will be discontinued and John Coppinger will be hired to implement organic soil improvements. Nock says it will be safe to use the field throughout the season, even immediately after application of the organic compost and fertilizers, which she expects will sink down through the grass and not be noticeable.

To promote healthier grass, the field will be aerated frequently and over-seeded as needed. The RecCom anticipates that weeds will be kept in check by healthy grass that is mown regularly. However, corn gluten may be applied when weed problems do occur. It will look like pollen, according to the Commission, and is harmless "to all but perhaps those with a corn allergy."

The RecCom plans to add rain sensors to the irrigation systems already in place on the fields to allow for better control over and possible reduction in water usage.

Garlic is used as a natural mosquito repellent and the RecCom will attach garlic sprayers to the irrigation system at Spalding Field. Garlic was sprayed last year prior to the Old Home Day festivities.

Nock said the RecCom had been interested in using organic field maintenance for some time, but had hesitated because of cost concerns. This year she was able to get a competitive bid from Coppinger for the organic protocol. To begin with, however, he is working without a long-term contract, as the RecCom tests the new methods. "The Recreation Commission welcomes feedback regarding the desirability of this program and is committed to maintaining safe and healthy lawns for all to play on," Nock said. To comment, call the commission at 1-978-369-9815 or send e-mail to:

Other town lawns

Grounds maintenance on most other town properties already follows a largely organic approach, according to Superintendent of Public Works Gary Davis. His department mows the lawns at the library, Town Hall, Fire Station, Police Station, cemetery, Town Common and Center Park. Davis said some locations, such as the Police or the Fire Department, may do additional fertilizing or other maintenance to their grass, but the only thing his department applies is occasional lime to the Common. He noted that unlike the cemetery or Town Hall, the Police and Fire Stations have sprinkers for watering their lawns.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito