Turf Tavern, a natural turf restaurant, is located in a strip mall in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, across from Macy’s, Toys ‘R’ Us and other retailers.
The restaurant’s menu features fresh-cut grass, organic chicken and shrimp, and homemade pasta.
But it’s also known for its artificial turf.
In January, The New York Times reported that the restaurant was paying as much as $3,000 per acre per year for turf.
Turf Tavern owner Mark Dzieweris, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Jennifer, said he’s been frustrated with the artificial turf trend, which he believes is destroying turf’s sustainability.
“The cost of doing a grass-based business, to me, is a very important issue for grass-loving businesses in the city,” he said.
“I want to make sure we’re not losing our grasses.
I don’t think the city has an appetite for it.
And the city is certainly not interested in the grass that’s growing on our land.”
Dziewerris said he was particularly frustrated with how much of the artificial lawn has been planted by companies that have a vested interest in promoting artificial turf over organic grass.
“When you’re the only company out there that’s going to take care of it, they don’t care about the people who are actually growing it,” he told The Times.
Dziweris said artificial turf is an expensive way to boost lawns’ productivity, and added, “The more people that use turf, the more grasses we have to grow.”
He’s not alone.
New York City’s Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that there are more than 700 million artificial turf plants on city streets, in parks and on city sidewalks.
But Dziwers is the first to say that turf is often a “last resort” for grass lawns.
In fact, Dzijeris and others are worried that turf will become the primary turf in the future, especially as urban areas expand and more people grow out of their homes.
“The amount of turf that’s being grown on city properties is very high,” he explained.
“It’s like a second growth on top of the first.
So it’s a really big concern to me.”
In 2015, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to create a $500 million artificial grass research and development program, and he said in a press release that New York is “focusing its investments in a new generation of turf-planting technologies to ensure our natural lawns and grasslands are sustainably and ecologically sound.”
He also said that the state will work to “increase the productivity of our natural grasslands” by developing new technologies to control erosion and improve soil health.
While Dzwers believes that artificial turf will soon be the “only viable option” for lawns, he also noted that natural grass is “really not a sustainable business model.”
“The biggest problem for me is that we’re all over the map about the best natural grasses, which are very hard to come by, and what to buy,” he added.
“If you’re going to go for grasses that are natural, there are better options out there.
But if you’re looking for the best artificial grass, I think we need to look at all of the alternatives.”
According to the American Grassland Council, turf is the second most common lawn plant after grass and is considered the most important plant for lawn health, soil structure, and soil quality.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the use of artificial turf in urban environments, and this is a major problem,” said Laura Dye, the council’s deputy director of public affairs.
“Our turf program has proven effective for a number of years, and we want to see more sustainable, healthy turf on our streets, parks and sidewalks.”
Dye said the council is working with the state and other cities to ensure that turf can be grown on natural grass in urban areas, while also making it clear that turf isn’t the only option.