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-- Lawn and garden leader commits $5 million over 3 years to fund Florida-based scientific research, consumer education and environmental enhancement
-- Will provide consumer and community education tools to remind Floridians they can have healthy landscapes and healthy water
-- Community garden grants supporting green infrastructure to be made in all Florida counties
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE:SMG), home to the leading brands in lawn and garden care, today launched a multi-year program across Florida to provide financial support to environmental groups and academic institutions focused on scientific research to help identify potential solutions to the state's water quality issues. The company also said it will launch a multi-media consumer campaign beginning immediately and escalating throughout the spring to remind homeowners how they can maintain healthy lawns and gardens while also protecting the state's critical water resources.
"As the leader in consumer lawn and garden care, we have a responsibility to help our consumers use our products correctly in order to be good stewards of the environment," said chairman and chief executive officer Jim Hagedorn, who is a resident of Florida. "As a resident of the Treasure Coast, and as someone with a passion to be on the water, I have witnessed the challenges in the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon and other waterways. I want Floridians to be confident that we're helping them do their part to help protect our most valuable natural resources."
Over the past several years, ScottsMiracle-Gro has taken key steps to improve the environmental profile of its lawn care products by removing phosphorus, reducing the amount of total nitrogen while also increasing the amount of slow-release nitrogen. The company has also introduced innovations in its widely-used lawn spreaders to ensure on-target fertilizer application. Additionally, enhanced instructions on product packaging provide consumers with clear instructions on how to use the products successfully while also helping to protect water quality.
"We have an obligation to help protect the environment and to ensure our products are being used correctly," said Hagedorn. "We embrace that obligation and are committing resources that will take us beyond what we've done before. We are proud to take a leadership role in this effort and we encourage others to do the same."
ScottsMiracle-Gro's commitment will be demonstrated in the four following ways:
1. INVESTING IN FLORIDA-BASED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
The company's Florida commitment includes funding of environmental research and academic organizations that are focused on having fact-based conversations about the impact of lawn and garden activities on water quality and developing effective solutions, regardless of the nutrient source.
The first of these projects is a two-year research grant to the Ocean Resource Conservation Association (ORCA), based in Ft. Pierce, Fla., that will focus on the Indian River Lagoon. The research will map point and non-point sources of nutrients and other potential pollutants flowing into the Lagoon that can help focus public and private investments on the highest priority actions that might improve and protect water and wildlife in the lagoon.
Chris Allen, president of ScottsMiracle-Gro's south region based in West Palm Beach, Fla., said the only stipulation placed on the grant is that the research process and results be transparent and include input and peer review from a range of scientists.
"There are a lot of complicated issues that are causing water quality concerns in Florida," Allen said. "We are looking to independent, science-based research to help better understand the root causes of these problems and to suggest solutions."
2. COMMITMENT TO EDUCATING FLORIDA HOMEOWNERS
Beginning this spring, ScottsMiracle-Gro will invest in radio and online advertising, a new, web-based consumer resource (www.scotts.com/florida) and also in-store messaging, as part of an effort to remind Florida consumers about the importance of practicing responsible lawn and garden activities. Additionally, Scotts LawnService will be providing new Florida Friendly Lawn Care educational materials directly to hundreds of thousands of Florida households, and has launched a website, www.floridafriendlylawncare.com, to support its communication efforts.
Another component of ScottsMiracle-Gro's education efforts will be a range of education tools that city and county governments and elected officials can utilize to communicate directly to local residents. All of Scotts' branded and unbranded education content will be based on the lawn and garden care recommendations of leading academic experts in the field of turf science.
3. PARTNERING WITH FLORIDIANS TO HELP RESTORE NATURAL RESOURCES
A third component of the company's commitment includes partnering with environmental restoration groups on water restoration projects, the first of which, announced last week, will provide 80,000 salt marsh plants through a partnership with Tampa Bay Watch.
Called "Bay Grasses in Classes," Tampa-area middle and high schools students will tend native plant nurseries on school grounds. Those students and ScottsMiracle-Gro associates will transfer the plants to designated restoration sites within the Tampa Bay estuary. The restoration plantings help clean the Bay by filtering nutrients, while the students learn real-world environmental and agronomic education principles that will help them become the next generation of stewards for Florida's waterways.
4. SUPPORTING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE THROUGH COMMUNITY GARDENING
Because lawns and green spaces serve as some of the most effective tools to reduce storm water runoff, protect against erosion and nutrient loss and also increase groundwater recharge, a final component of the program will include the creation or support of community gardens and green spaces in every Florida county over the next three years. The effort will be part of the company's GRO1000 initiative, which, in collaboration with partners such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Plant-A-Row For the Hungry, will establish community gardens in 1,000 U.S. communities by 2018.
"The benefits of community gardens have been documented countless times and we've seen just how powerful a garden can be as part of our GRO1000 effort," Hagedorn said. "Whether through large projects or smaller contributions, we're confident our GRO1000 commitment to Florida will provide both human and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state."
CURRENT EFFORTS REFLECT A STARTING POINT
Hagedorn stressed that ScottsMiracle-Gro is committed to ongoing engagement and improvement.
"The very act of lawn and garden care is the most tangible way that most homeowners interact with the environment," Hagedorn said. "Gardeners love the environment, and so do we. It is the very embodiment of our business. While we are excited about these new initiatives, we will continue to look for even better solutions whenever possible."
"At the end of the day, everyone who lives in Florida wants water quality across the state to improve, and we're committed to helping where we can and working with others to find solutions."
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is the world's largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. The Company's brands are the most recognized in the industry. In the U.S., the Company's Scotts®, Miracle-Gro® and Ortho® brands are market-leading in their categories, as is the consumer Roundup® brand, which is marketed in North America and most of Europe exclusively by Scotts and owned by Monsanto. In the U.S., we operate Scotts LawnService®, the second largest residential lawn care service business. In Europe, the Company's brands include Weedol®, Pathclear®, Evergreen®, Levington®, Miracle-Gro®, KB®, Fertiligene® and Substral®. For additional information, visit us at www.scotts.com.
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