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Faculty & Staff Newsletter

April 2019

UMass Joseph Troll Turf Research Center, South Deerfield Addressing Neighbors’ Concerns in South Deerfield

The UMass Joseph Troll Turf Research Center sits on 17 acres on River Road in South Deerfield. The research at the facility, conducted by faculty in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, is oriented toward developing or refining techniques that will allow turf managers to protect their natural environment while maintaining turf that meets the demands of their facilities. In December of last year, concerns were raised by residents of the neighborhood abutting the facility about the application of pesticides on the research plots. The concerns were brought up at the biweekly meeting of the town’s combined Selectboard/Board of Health and were featured in a newspaper article soon thereafter. In late January, a UMass group (faculty member Michelle DaCosta, CAFE associate director Joe Shoenfeld, Turf Center Superintendent James Poro, CAFE farm manager Bob Skalbite, along with Tony Maroulis, UMass executive director of external relations and university events) met with the Board and South Deerfield residents. The sometimes emotional meeting resulted in several requests from the Board to UMass to consider methods of notification prior to pesticide application and other measures to respond to the neighbors’ concerns. Shoenfeld, Skalbite and Poro, along with Maroulis, met with the Board again on April 3, outlining steps the facility will take to address the concerns, including planting a treed barrier on the property edge, creating a ‘notification zone’ and system for notifying the neighbors. They also announced a public Open House to take place at the facility on May 28.