Contact: Kathy Litchfield, coordinator (413) 773-3830 or



Public Kick-Off Event: Thursday, May 20 at 2:00 p.m.

STONEHAM, MASS. – The Town of Stoneham’s organic lawn at the center circle of the Town Common is shaping up for spring! A public kick-off event is planned for Thursday, May 20 at 2:00 p.m. on the organic lawn at the center circle. Residents will learn how to transition from using pesticides on their own lawns to organic methods. The event will feature refreshments, children’s activities, and exhibit tables.

Last fall, the Town of Stoneham embarked on a significant and exciting project to implement and maintain the center circle organically, working in partnership with the Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. (NOFA/Mass) and the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Located in the center of town surrounded by the Town Hall, Police Station and Fire Station, the common is used year-round for special events. Local employees enjoy lunch on the lawn’s benches; kids soak up the sunshine while playing on the grass; and holiday events, parades and annual road races begin here.

            Working with Stoneham Groundskeeper Rick Arzillo and DPW Deputy Manager Larry Brophy to implement practical organic lawn care management at the center circle of the Town Common is NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional Michael Murray of Organic Soil Solutions, Inc. based in Woburn.

            “Our goals are to eliminate the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the management of this very public lawn area, to demonstrate the benefits of eliminating toxins in lawns and to raise public awareness of the beauty, functionality and cost effectiveness of organically managed lawns,” said Murray.

The project is made possible via a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. The TURI Community Program strives to help organizations raise awareness of the hazards of toxic chemical use and introduce safer alternatives within their neighborhoods.

            “Reducing the use of harmful pesticides on lawns is an area where individuals and municipalities can make a direct impact on the health of families and communities,” said Joy Onasch, Community Program Manager of TURI at UMass Lowell. “Through the NOFA Organic Lawn Demonstration Project, Stoneham is leading by example and put into action education they have received in previous years.”

            In 2007 and 2008, TURI provided scholarships for 11 municipal employees, including Arzillo, to attend the NOFA Organic Lawn & Turf Course, an offering of the NOFA Organic Land Care Program.

“We’ve been doing organics for about six years, with mixed results,” said Arzillo. “This project is a great example, to show us what possible improvements this might make in our overall organic program. We’d like to continue in this direction and are happy to have the help of a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional.”

            Stoneham DPW Deputy Director Larry Brophy looks forward to discovering the effectiveness of organically maintained lawns through this project.

“This lawn is right in the center of our Town common, very visible to residents and visitors alike. There are questions in the air about whether organic programs really work or are a waste of money. This project is a good way to prove that one way or the other.”            


On May 20th at 2:00 p.m., NOFA and TURI will host a public kick-off event on the lawn to showcase the benefits and beauty of organic lawn management and educate homeowners about making the transition. Stoneham has committed to maintaining the center circle lawn organically at least through June of 2013. The public and the media are encouraged to attend this event!

The TURI Community Program supports the work of many organizations, by providing grants, education, training and outreach on toxic use reduction methods and alternatives and resources to assist communities and individuals to reduce toxics. For more info on TURI, visit or contact Joy Onasch at (978) 934-4343 or To apply for a grant, visit:            

Now in its 10th year, the NOFA Organic Land Care Program educates and accredits landscapers, municipal employees and the public in organic landscaping practices during its annual five-day intensive accreditation course; as well as offers advanced workshops, turfgrass courses and in-depth publications.

For more information about the Stoneham Organic Lawn Demonstration Project, and the NOFA/Mass Organic Land Care Program, call Coordinator Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830 or email