Spring is in the air at the College. Students are busting out their bicycles and picnic blankets and storing away their overpriced jackets. Some have even stopped avoiding eye contact with their peers as they walk past one another on the Green.
For students, spring is a time to appreciate the beauty in everyday moments. But for the Facilities Department, spring means early mornings and late nights. The annual grass replacement sprint has begun.
“I told my wife to forget about the morning cuddles,” John Pimento, Associate Director of Colby Groundskeeping, told The Colby Echo. “[We will lay] three acres of St. Augustine daily, so I’ll be rising with the rooster for three, four weeks. The new kind [of grass] is more green or something, and they want it to be ready for graduation.”
Facilities has replaced the campus green spaces annually since 2016 as part of their No-Gro initiative. Grass has not historically grown for longer than 12 months at a time, Katrina Nguyen, Executive Vice President of Colby Facilities, explained to the Echo.
“If you look back, going back to a time when humans lived in a much more symbiotic way with nature, that’s what you’ll see,” she said. “Grass can be extremely unstable and even downright invasive if it’s not carefully contained. With technology and the 21st century, you have lawnmowers and gas-guzzlers that actually hurt the environment and contribute to injustice. We are looking at the situation and saying, ok, how can we actually use this to foster a community that is safe for everybody?”
The College is replacing its previous stock of Bermuda grass with the industry-standard St. Augustine, a grass that is spreading throughout college campuses nationwide. St. Augustine absorbs carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, transforming it into the oxygen we breathe with a complicated internal process. However, this variety is also best known for being a welcoming, self-aware grass with little potential for abuse. With graduation less than two months away, the grass-layer staff is ramping up for a busy April.
“We need this to be done by May,” explained Brian Wenkins, the College’s Administrative Revenue-Creation Coordinator. “You think money grows on trees? I swear to God, if a donor sees a speck of dirt on a lawn I am going to have a BF. I don’t grease palms dawn to dusk to walk back to my car through a cow pasture!”
While the Administration hopes that the grass will spur generosity in donors with deep pockets, the grass replacement scheme is also providing valuable support to the local economy.
Delroy O’Maheney, the owner of Oakland Grass & Parts, explained that his strategies are a closely-kept secret that has been in his family for generations.
“My daddy was a grass-grower, and his daddy before him. We all grew up eating the grass, sleeping, and fornicating in the grass. There’s nothing like the tender embrace of St. Augustine to make you feel whole again, though it does make me terribly horny at times,” he remarked. “Aye, the regular purchases by your institution have put my family in a tremendously fine spot. The benevolent investments by the non-profit Colby College have revitalized Waterville’s downtown and brought life to a community that has looked age-induced decline in the eyes.”
As Facilities prepares to lay new sheets of grass on campus, there is a sparkle of hope in the air. Hope that new grass is more than just a covering for the muddy wound of the perpetual construction zone that is the College. Perhaps St. Augustine will watch over us, granting us the courage to love one another and the grace to forgive one another’s sins. After all, if you change one thing, you change everything.
~ Phil McCracken