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BY COLIN MIXSON
The Battery Conservancy has announced that the two-acre plot of grass that has been fenced off from the public for the past year is poised to open at the eponymous park in June, and The Battery’s caretakers are inviting locals to a party to celebrate.
The inaugural celebration of The Battery’s Oval lawn will be a two-day, alfresco fair on June 25 and 26, featuring 90 stalls where hometown businesses will sell goods as natural as the grass — which the conservancy has taken great pains to ensure is fully organic and toxin-free.
“We’re showing a lawn to people that has never had a toxin or synthetic fertilizer, where you can walk across the grass without damaging your pets or children,” said Warrie Price, president of The Battery Conservancy. “We felt we needed a celebration.”
The Battery’s Oval lawn was carpeted with a luscious layer of Kentucky Blue grass in June last year, and has lain virginal and untouched behind a fence ever since, giving the fresh vegetation the time it needs to take root.
The conservancy went with Kentucky Blue following an in-house study to select a grass that was not only appealing to the eye, but also robust enough to survive heavy use — without the need for noxious chemicals.
As part of the study, the conservancy looked at soil mixture, climate, and irrigation, in addition to calculating the cost of maintenance for the various flora considered, according to Anna Morrison, planning and design associate at the conservancy.
“It’s not an easy feat to manage a showcase lawn with the kind of traffic we expect,” she said.
And keeping The Battery pest-free without relying on chemicals is no easy task. At one point, the park was infested with plant-eating grubs, and its caretakers had to introduce nematodes, a type of near-microscopic roundworm that attack the grubs.
“We always use natural ways to combat pests,” said Price.
In keeping with its pesticide-free policy, The Battery Conservancy is curating a lineup of growers and makers to fill its market fair in June, with a priority for local businesses that produce all-natural goods, according to Price.
In addition, the park caretakers are hoping to attract horticulturists and craftsmen for the big event, each of whom will represent one of nine categories of produce and merchandise, including meats and dairy, plants and seeds, natural sweets, grains and grasses, cut flowers, natural fibers, herbs and teas, fruits and vegetables, and fish and seafood.
The vendors will set up in specially designed stalls dubbed The Battery Oval Stand, 90 of which will ring the Oval facing outwards, allowing locals to shop around the perimeter of the new lawn, before heading in to picnic and lounge.
“The first Battery fair is a demonstration of our values and the sense that we want a bio-diverse environment and that we celebrate our ecosystem,” said Price. “Plus to have a lot of fun.”