The grass is greener: Turf restoration at Roger Williams National Memorial

July 23-26 2018

This week the Boston Field Team left their home turf and traveled on the commuter rail to Providence, RI every day in order to do turf restoration work for Roger Williams National Memorial. This out-of-state experience was an exciting way to learn about the history of Roger William’s revolutionary ideas and his value for religious freedom. The field team agreed that they had not learned much about Roger Williams in school, and valued this new opportunity.

To start off the week, the field team learned about integrity of a landscape, as well as the differences between a National Historic Site and a National Memorial. While Roger Williams did found the Providence Plantations, the present-day memorial that honors him is not directly linked to Williams or his property. The 4.5 acre National Memorial where the field team worked this week is a space for public access, freedom of ideas, and “soul liberty” (one of William’s core concepts).

Project work was split between four stations: (1) Aeration of the heavily compacted soil using both manual and motorized aerators, (2) soil testing using manually-extracted cores from all 8 zones of the park, (3) lawn restoration on 10,000 square feet of turf that involved prepping the soil with a cultivator, laying grass seed, covering with Penn mulch, and watering, and (4) improving the appearance of the park by weeding the privet hedge that borders the park along the exterior sidewalk.

Thanks to the expertise of the park staff (Paul, Dan, and Nick) as well as education from two turf management professionals (Mary, Professor at the University of MA at Amherst; and Michael, new addition to the OCLP team), the Boston Field Team enjoyed a week of learning new skills. Charltin reflected, “My favorite part was learning how to ‘read’ soil.” Jeff adds another highlight: “Using equipment for the first time (the manual aerator).” Emani, a second-year field team member, was excited to see a new park. Through the humidity and storms of the week, the team was able to learn, contribute meaningfully to the continuing lawn restoration at Roger Williams National Memorial, and have some fun too — as Angela writes, “My favorite part was being active and playing games like freeze tag!”

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