Mason Facilities is excited to announce the launch of a new pilot program centering around organic land care in a 7-acre area surrounding Merten Hall and Petersen Hall on the Fairfax campus. Within the testing site, 100% natural fertilizers and environmentally sensitive, gardening products will be used to measure the environmental and financial impacts and feasibility to the Mason Community.
The Facilities Management (FM) team is leading this pilot program, which began in Spring 2022, and will be evaluating the viability of “green” landscaping and organic land care for the next three years. During this time, testing will be conducted on landscaping systems and their ability to absorb possible enhanced biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil activity in an organic capacity. "Organic" means landscaping with no synthetic pesticides of any kind (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) and with no synthetic fertilizers or soil amendments.
"The site will be routinely monitored, while findings and conditions will be recorded in order to determine the overall effectiveness and prospect of the practices required and how the flora and fauna react,” said Erich Miller, FM Grounds Program Manager. “These necessary steps are required to provide the most accurate responses. Unfortunately, in this field, it is a rather lengthy process of trial and error, as it will take some time for the soil reactions and changes in plant growth habits to manifest and produce levels that can be recorded and analyzed.”
Additional efforts tested within the pilot program include, but are not limited to: water conservation, soil testing, inland wetlands and watercourses preservation, lawn maintenance, renovation, organic plant and tree care, and proper disposal for plant residues and other landscaping materials.
FM is partnering with BrightView, Mason’s contracted landscaping vendor, to ensure testing continues to be in compliance with best landscaping management practices, while showcasing Facilities’ efforts to advance Mason’s mission.
Once this research program is completed in 2025, Mason Facilities will assess the practicality and feasibility of organic landscaping within the Mason Community. If the trial is successful in its use of organic vs. synthetic landscaping products, the Facilities Department will strive to review and consider, on a case-by-cases basis; a shift away from traditional lawn care practices.
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