According to a press release, this turf-loving mutt "has partnered with a new Discovery Education program to teach kids about their green surroundings," on a mission to "Make the World a Greener Place, One Blade at a Time." The reference to "one blade" is your cue to what's behind this campaign (as is the name "TurfMutt") because this "educational" program is financed by:
OPEI, which is, according to its website, "the major international trade association representing the manufacturers and their suppliers of consumer and commercial outdoor power equipment such as lawnmowers, garden tractors, utility vehicles, trimmers, edgers, chain saws, snow throwers, tillers, leaf blowers and other related products."
So, parents and educators, having any doubts yet?
But wait – it's somehow connected with the Discovery Channel, so what's up with that? The educational materials were indeed produced by Discovery Education, which their website tells is what they do for their clients, most prominently Ford, Clorox, PepsiCo, and FreddieMac. Not exactly the Sierra Club.
Moving on, let's look at the content. From the TurfMutt website we learn that he advises fertilizing naturally (good start), choosing "grass or plants" for your climate, watering early – and then it gets a little weird:
Prune Regularly. A single grass plant can have 300 miles of roots. Roots grow strong with appropriate watering and proper pruning. Mowing your lawn regularly, similar to pruning perennial plants and flower gardens, keeps grass healthier and thicker.
And finally to the main point, which is to promote lawn:
Create More Green Space. Lawns and other green spaces lessen the “heat island” effect, especially in urban areas, keeping surrounding areas cooler. Is there an area in your neighborhood that could benefit from some green space? If so, plant a garden for tasty veggies or a lawn area for play and relaxation.
And elsewhere on the website you'll find more specific pro-lawn pitches about how it boosts your oxygen footprint, and
Compared to bare ground, non-green areas, and lawn substitutes, such as painted concrete or even artificial turf, actual grass and green areas generate oxygen. For example, a turf area 50′ x 50′ produces enough oxygen to meet the everyday needs of a family of four and each acre of grass produces enough oxygen for 64 people a day.
As a big promoter of lawn substitutes myself, what a hoot to see them identified as "painted concrete and artificial turf"! Actually, it's not such a hoot; it's marketing.
It would be easy to write off the whole campaign as corporate brainwashing of our children, but hey, at least they recommend natural fertilizers, right? I'm trying to find something redeemable here but most of the educational content is just SO lame (like their descriptions of various climates, which erroneously includes Maryland in the Southeast and recommends two turfgrasses that don't grow here.)
But readers, what do YOU think of TurfMutt and what the power tool lobby is trying to teach your kids?