Rutgers Firmly Planted on Central Park Turf

Image of a man in central park on a ride on mower

Rutgers University's bond with Central Park is as strong as the hardy grass a Rutgers professor plucked from Sheep Meadow in the1960s and cultivated into world-class turf.

Rutgers and the Central Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and enhancement of the iconic park in Manhattan, have strengthened their collective expertise in horticulture and turf care ever since through years of collaboration and training.

"The partnership between Rutgers and the Central Park Conservancy is preparing the next generation of environmental stewards with the tools to manage landscapes and help them flourish," said Douglas Blonsky CC'83 , president and chief executive officer of CPC – and a Rutgers graduate.

"We get professional advice from the people who are doing the research, and the conservancy shares what it's doing in the field," added Russell Fredericks CC'91, CPC's chief of operations and another Rutgers alumnus. "Having that back and forth goes a long way."

Rutgers' link to Central Park goes back at least to 1962, when Professor C. Reed Funk took samples of ryegrass in Sheep Meadow that managed to thrive despite having no fertilization or irrigation – and plenty of foot trampling. Reed used the grass' genetics to breed Manhattan perennial ryegrass, which became one of the most successful commercial turfgrasses produced for sports fields and lawns (it is now in its fifth generation).  Read whole story.

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