Category Archives: TPI Members

Breakfast on the Farm with Jasperson Sod Farm

TPI member and past Board of Trustee Randy Jasperson of Jasperson Sod Farm hosted “Breakfast on the Farm” on June 22nd, 2019. This annual event is held at various locations  in Wisconsin each year and is designed to educate the public on the value and presence of Wisconsin agriculture. Members of the Wisconsin farming community in Union Grove, WI put on a real show for the public with events including petting zoos, local honey, antique tractors, and even live music, all while eating breakfast. There was also a sod harvesting demonstration which as always really draws in a crowd.

In addition to all of the fun, TPI was there to educate people on the value of natural grass sod and answer any questions on how it’s grown, harvested, and delivered to market. There was also a little more serious discussion with Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) on H.R. 1673, the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019. Randy Jasperson and I visited with him to discuss the importance of this bill to sod producers in getting their product to market. H.R. 1673 currently has bipartisan support from 23 legislators as well as a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

Check out some of the pictures below as well as a story from Journal Times. Thanks to Randy Jasperson and his team for hosting this fantastic event!

 

TPI visits members in Tennessee, Minnesota, and Portugal

TPI staff members Karen Cooper and Casey Reynolds, PhD continue to visit with current and potential TPI members at local and regional events. On Sept 11th, 2018 Karen Cooper visited McCurdy Sod Farms for the MidSouth Turfgrass Council Field Day hosted by incoming TPI Board Member Bob McCurdy. This event was an opportunity for local and regional growers to hear discussions on a variety of farm-based research trials where Mr. McCurdy and his staff are experimenting with various products in sod production. It also allowed growers to get hands-on with sod production and interact with their peers while making new connections and re-affirming old ones. The TPI staff and board of directors also visited Willard Wagner at Wagner Sod Farms in Minnesota as part of the 2018 TPI Fall Board meeting and preview of the 2018 TPI Summer Convention and Field Days!

TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds spoke at the European Turfgrass Producers 2018 Turf Expo in Troia, Comporta, Portugal from October 24th to 26th where ETP members gathered for a trade show, education sessions, and field day. The event began with a golf tournament the morning of October 24th at Troia Golf before lunch and the ETP General Assembly. This was followed by educational seminars from a variety of international speakers covering a wide range of topics on turfgrass management, new technologies, the environment, planting techniques, irrigation, construction, sustainability, and more.

After 2 days of indoor trade shows and seminars, ETP traveled briefly south to Novogreen Sod Farm in Comporta, Portugal to check out the latest in equipment, seed, and more. One of the interesting parts of international organizations like TPI and ETP is getting to visit and build relationships with seed and sod producers as well as industry partners from around the world. Several TPI members from the United States were also there to participate, as well as speak in seminars. Special thanks to ETP for inviting TPI and hosting a great event!

TPI Member Featured in NY Times Online

Photo by Rick Loomis

Original article published by Jack Bell, NY Times Online

TPI Members all over the world know what it takes to get the job done each and every day. They are always looking for new opportunities, business ventures, and ways to serve their local communities while also highlighting the value of natural grass. Check out the story below on TPI member Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, New Jersey who hosts on-farm soccer tournaments drawing as many as 25,000 people to play on locally produced natural grass.

Click the link below for the full story:

TPI Explores Corporate Partnerships

 Turfgrass Producers International is currently exploring a new supplier membership model designed to further develop relationships with it’s corporate partners. Suppliers and manufacturers are represented in TPI by those companies who are actively involved in providing equipment, manufactured goods, support systems, services, and products or supplies to turfgrass producers. 

TPI been working together with supplier members since it’s inception and is examining new options for supplier memberships.  Casey Reynolds adds, “We recognize that many of our larger suppliers have many employees throughout the world that may enjoy the benefits that TPI has to offer, particularly at local levels where they interact with turfgrass producers. As a result, we’d like to create a membership model that works more efficiently for large multi-national manufacturers and distributors while still maintaining our current Class B Supplier membership for smaller, family-owned companies.”

In the last two months, TPI staff have been in discussions with Bayer, BASF, Syngenta, and Helena to determine how best to increase interactions and collaboration in a way that is mutually beneficial to them and TPI members. The staff at TPI will present two new supplier membership classes to the Board of Trustees for their approval and then move forward accordingly. “We will continue to reach out to supplier members to see how we can support their businesses while also bringing more resources to producers. We welcome and encourage any current or potential supplier members to contact us with comments or questions, and we will certainly stay in touch as this develops”, Casey Reynolds, PhD and Executive Director of TPI.

Dr. Casey Reynolds and Karen Cooper visit the Bayer Bee Care Center

TPI travels to Georgia, Mississippi, SC, and Texas

TPI continues it’s outreach with new staff members Casey Reynolds, PhD and Karen Cooper.  Fresh off from trips to Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Holland, it was time in November and December to visit the deep south with trips to Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. The 2017 Georgia Urban Ag Council’s Sod & Turfgrass Producers Field Day was held in Perry, GA from Oct 31st – Nov. 1st and included educational sessions along with a field day on a bright, sunny, and windy day at TPI Member Super-Sod’s farm in Fort Valley, GA. Vendors from all over came to exhibit new products, services, and of course to demonstrate the latest equipment.

Some of these vendors then packed up their bags and headed further south for a week at the Deep South Turf Expo in Biloxi, MS. Casey Reynolds was there on behalf of TPI at the Deep South Turf Expo Trade Show, but also was an invited speaker during the educational sessions. His topics include Interpreting Pesticide Labels, Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health, and Current & Future Issues Affecting  Turfgrass Production. For more information on Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health check out the January/February issue of Turf News! 

In addition to the Deep South Turf Expo, TPI also had trade show booths at the 2017 Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Conference & Trade Show from November 13-15 in Myrtle Beach, SC and at the Texas Turfgrass Association Conference & Show from December 5 – 7th in Arlington, TX. While at the Carolinas GCSA conference, Casey Reynolds and TPI Secretary/Treasurer Hank Kerfoot of Modern Turf were able to visit with turfgrass producers from South Carolina during the SC Sod Producers Association business meeting, held at the same convention center. Hank and Casey shared new and ongoing information relative to TPI initiatives, memberships, and the upcoming 2018 TPI International Education Conference & Field Day in Tucson, AZ. Dr. Bert McCarty was also in attendance to discuss updates on Clemson University’s turfgrass program and the ongoing problem of herbicide resistance weeds. TPI would like to extend a special thanks to the SC Sod Producers Association for hosting us and letting us be a part of their event.  

Karen Cooper was able to attend the 2017 Texas Turfgrass Association (TTA) where she was able to connect with TPI supplier and producer members in Texas. This was a special year for the Texas Turfgrass Association as they honored 70 years of Past Presidents as well as their long time Executive Director Shirley Duble. 

TPI member Thomas Turfgrass’s Emory Thomas is on the Board of Directors for the Texas Turfgrass Association and TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds is a past advisor to TTA.

TPI Board Member John Coombs Receives Distinguished Award

Each year the Salem County Board of Agriculture selects an individual who they feel has been of great service to the agriculture industry in their local community. It was in high school that John realized the farm life was for him. After graduating from Penn State with an Agricultural degree, he returned home to join the ranks of the family farm as an 8th generation farmer. He enjoyed many daily farm tasks but seemed to especially like disking the ground ahead of planting as well as planting potatoes. He likes it so much that he often joked he would plant the moon if they would let him, and his family states that he would actually do it if he could figure out a way to get his John Deere Tractor up there.

John has always been involved in the community and has held various positions with the Salem County Board of Agriculture, the NJ State Agricultural Museum, the Upper Pittsgrove Township Land Use Board, the Salem County Utilities Authority, the NJ Cultivated Sod Association, and more. He has always instilled the love of the land and a passion for growing plants in all three of his children, inspiring future generations to carry on the family tradition of growing things from the land. Leading by example, he has taught future generations to not be afraid of getting involved and taking on leadership positions in things they find important to them.

It’s his love of agriculture and his commitment to being involved in his community and agriculture industry that has earned John Coombs, Sr. the Distinguished Service Award.

A Night to Remember with Jim Novak

 When my wife Kathy and I were informed months ago that the TPI Board wanted to throw a goodbye/thank you dinner to acknowledge my retirement I was somewhat apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the food be good? Would anyone care to sit with us? Would I have to chip-in for our portion of the meal? 

Upon arriving at Morton’s Steakhouse promptly at 6:30 as requested, Kathy and I advised the hostess that we were there for the TPI function. She had no idea what we were talking about. We said, “Perhaps it’s under the name Reynolds? (Sandy or Casey),” she said, “No, we don’t have anything under TPI or Reynolds.” We were somewhat concerned that we might be at the wrong Morton’s Steakhouse, there are six in the Chicagoland area and I am noted for often getting lost. Kathy then asked, “Could it be under Turfgrass Producers International?” The hostess responded, “Oh, you mean the turfgrass people!”  

We were then led through several dining areas, down a dimly lit hallway, made a few turns and finally arrived at a room filled with many familiar faces. Greetings were exchanged. And after some friendly conversation everyone scampered off to a table for dinner. The meal was delightful and so too was the conversation.  After everyone finished eating Sandy Reynolds began what could be described as a poor man’s roast and I was to be the roastee!

Sandy was joined by Geri Hannah in recalling some humorous stories regarding a few of my misadventures over the years at TPI and everyone had a laugh including yours truly. 

Sandy had a half dozen blown-up head shots of me, all of which depicted a seemingly troubled soul, and had placed them on ping-pong paddles. She waved each photo and proceeded to describe my expression in each photo; it went something like this: “This is the not so happy Jim. This is the grumpy Jim. This is Jim when he’s in a good mood, I know it’s hard to tell the good mood Jim from the grumpy Jim, but that’s Jim.”  

After Sandy and Geri did their tag-team comedy routine, Linda Bradley advised everyone that I visit the old TPI office once a week to check the building and run the water. She then presented me with a few gifts from the board. They included a toilet plunger, a roll of bathroom tissue, a toilet scrub brush, a can of air freshener and a pair of yellow latex gloves. It can’t get much better than that after twelve years of dedicated service.   

Following Linda’s presentation, Jimmy Fox got a bit more serious as he kindly acknowledged my contribution to TPI, the board and its members during my career. His thoughtful remarks, the recognition extended to me, and the response from those in attendance was deeply moving.  Jimmy also presented me with a personal gift from the Board to show their appreciation for my years of service. 

At the close of the evening I shared a few light-hearted and personal stories and expressed my sincere gratitude to everyone for their thoughtfulness and told them how much I appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone in such a warm setting.

After Kathy and I left the restaurant we sat in the car for a while, we looked at one another and agreed, we’re going to miss working with such wonderful people. It truly was a night to remember.

TPI Sec-Treasurer Eric Heuver and TPI President Linda Bradley taking turns toasting Jim Novak

Turfgrass Producers help out after Southern US Hurricanes

 One of the farms that experienced temporary flooding was Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch Turf Farm in Nome, TX. Owner Mike Doguet is a brother to member David Doguet of Bladerunner Farms and Doguet Ventures. While much of the farm was under water, his warehouse facility was high and dry. Mike reports that his local veterinarian called and asked if the facility could be used as a staging area for hay and other livestock and pet foods. Even though Mike and family had to be rescued from their home by boat, the house itself did not flood, and he lost over 300 round bales of hay himself, he said, “Sure, anything we can do to help.” With the assistance of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service they set up a distribution system to accept donated hay and feedstuffs and disseminate it throughout the affected area. Mike reports that donations poured in from all over the country. In one afternoon alone, over 500 round bales were delivered from the supply point. Mike’s son-in-law, Matt Willey, reported, “There were trucks lined up all along the road. We had an assembly line inside the warehouse getting dog and cat food unloaded.” The supply yard was still in operation the second week of October, but was winding down. 

Keith Wittig, Central Turf Farms owner, is a TPI Board of Trustees member, reported an average of four to five feet of water over his entire farm. Some areas had as much as six to eight feet and some with as little as two feet. The entire area not only had to deal with the rain falling (about 25 inches), but the amount of rainfall caused the Colorado River to flood, adding to the deluge. The major flooding occurred three to four days after the 

hurricane. The rain water was being absorbed into the soil but with what wasn’t running off, the river flooding was too much. 

Almost all of Wittig’s employees were affected. There was a great community effort to help. All employees were back to work by the first part of October. Wittig also wanted to make it known that he was very appreciative of the TPI members’ outreach. On Saturday, September 2, TPI Associate Executive Director Karen Cooper, who lives in New Braunfels, TX, delivered 221 pounds of chicken, 20 bags of potato chips, 350 paper plates, napkins, and plastic-ware to provide meals to over 200 first responders in the Wharton area. Wittig says, “We have been really blessed. People brought food. Calls from all over the country offered trucks, generators, anything that we might need or use.” 

In addition to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma hit Florida on September 10th, and after roaring through West and Central Florida it started breaking down as it traveled North and affected parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina before officially dissipating September 16. Central Florida turf farms received the brunt of the damage. Gary Bradshaw, our Field Day host last February at SMR Farms, reports that they fared far better than some just a county away. Some of the homes on the property also suffered roof damage. Bradshaw says, “We were really blessed, many people had it far worse.”

Betsy McGill is executive director of the Turfgrass Producers of Florida. She also reports that the damage across the state was sporadic. She said that there are two farms with potential total damage. She adds, “There is going to be a lot of wait and see. Lost production and harvest time was very significant.” Damages are still being tallied, but totals to sod producers will be in the millions of dollars. There will be a definite impact on supply and on timing.

Tuckahoe Turf Reel Mower Makes Big Impact on Twitter

 As the saying goes, “The only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys.”

TPI members attending the Tuckahoe Turf Farm tour as part of the 2017 TPI Summer Conference in New Jersey got a real treat during the Wednesday session when they witnessed a larger-than-usual mower in action. This unit, with 31 reels and an approximate cutting width of 60 feet, was one of the many highlights of the tour. It also made quite the impression on Twitter. Dr. Casey Reynolds, who manages the The Lawn Institute Twitter account says, “Its always fun to see tweets like this take off. This tweet literally made 10 times the impression on Twitter than any other tweet I’ve made since joining TPI.” I can see why too, because I never get tired of seeing farm and turf equipment in action. Especially when its this size!”

Green Street Challenges comes to Pennsylvania

The Green Street Challenge is a day-long event that creates the opportunity to celebrate the importance of outdoor, unstructured play by laying down sod and creating temporary parks on prominent streets in communities across North America. It is sponsored by Come Alive Outside, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works closely with partners in the landscape profession, as well as college horticulture and landscape architecture departments, in order to get people off the couch and back outside in communities across North America. Its mission is  to inspire collaborative community systems that create the awareness, intention, and opportunity for people to live healthier lives outside. 

TPI Board of Trustees member John Coombs decided to get involved after hearing a “Come Alive Outside” presentation at a recent TPI event. As a result, at 5am on May 27th, 2017 Coombs Sod Farm delivered 6,000 sq ft of Kentucky bluegrass sod to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to be laid on Monroe Street prior to the 8am opening of the Saturday Morning Farmer’s market. Hula hoops, straw bales, balls of various kinds, lawn games, and more were provided for kids and their families to just enjoy the day. 

One attendee and mother stated to a reporter, “It’s good to explore because nowadays  you don’t see kids playing with toys or just outside enjoying. Everybody is in front of a 

screen, and I look back to my childhood and I loved just running outside.” Another person stated, “What a great project, thank you!”

Come Alive Outside has plans for 12 events in 2017 in Canada and is looking to expand further into the United States in 2018. For more information on their organization and future Green Street Challenges, please check out their website at https://comealiveoutside.com/greenstreet/.