Editor’s note: The June issue of Superintendent magazine features a special supplement on golf and sustainability. We were fortunate to have several advertisers/sponsors involved in the supplement to make it possible and to help educate superintendents about sustainability. We asked the sponsors to share their philosophies about sustainability as it pertains to their products. It’s clear these companies take sustainability very seriously and are committed to its economic, environmental and social components. While their stories appeared in the June issue, we’re also sharing them in this newsletter. Today, a look at EarthWorks.
Joel Simmons can brag all he wants to about his company’s products. But he’ll be the first to admit that superintendents aren’t using them because of what he’s saying.
“[Superintendents] aren’t embracing what I’m saying, they’re embracing the results that they’re seeing,” says Simmons, president and founder of Easton, Pennsylvania-based EarthWorks Natural Organic Products.
EarthWorks, now in its 26th year, fit the bill as a sustainable company long before the term was ever used in the golf course maintenance industry. For years Simmons has touted the importance of using carbon-based products to “feed the soil.”
“[But our approach] was so esoteric to people,” Simmons says, noting that he and his comrades were once viewed as “those wacky dudes selling chicken crap.”
But times have changed. “Carbon-based fertilizers are becoming mainstream,” Simmons says. “Superintendents are starting to understand why carbon is so important in their programs, and they’re embracing that.”
Superintendents realize that soil requires a certain carbon-to-nitrogen ratio to stay robust, and that salt-based fertilizers will eventually destroy that ratio, Simmons notes.
“But our products will replenish the carbon in the soil,” he adds.
Simmons never intended to start an environmental movement with his company’s products, although he markets the products as eco-friendly. And he doesn’t tell superintendents that they can stop using pesticides and conventional fertilizers if they use his products.
But if superintendents do use EarthWorks’ products, the healthier soil will result in healthier turfgrass that can better withstand disease and insect infestations, which will allow superintendents to sleep better at night.
“Our products don’t eliminate all the problems, but they can certainly get superintendents into problems a lot later and out of them a lot faster,” Simmons says.
He doesn’t doubt that superintendents are embracing sustainability. In fact, he added another component to sustainability in addition to its environmental, economic and social factors: the relax factor.
Superintendents want to “create an environment where they don’t have to constantly find ways to put out fires,” he says. “Sustainability to them is … can I just get through the day without a major collapse.”