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Spotlight - Metroscapes Landscaping and Green Grow Organics

image Sam Sitterle in his element

SAN ANTONIO - These days, many are concerned about our environment, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Then there are the pesticides and chemical weed killers and fertilizers, possibly in the food we eat and the food livestock and farm animals eat.








    We are all familiar with or have heard about these aspects and possibilities.  However, most of us are not aware of what else is out there contributing to the health of all living things, that which is right in front of us - Dirt!
    Who doesn’t enjoy beautiful landscapes - grass, flowers, trees, shrubs?  According to Sitterle, we should consider all the beautiful landscaping as well.  And believe it or not, weeds have a purpose; they are an indicator and identifier of what’s in the soil.  Just because we don’t directly eat our landscaping or the weeds doesn’t mean they can’t also be harmful to our health and environment.  In nature, everything is connected in various ways.
    Any problems associated with all the landscapes and nature around us are relatively simple to understand.  Likewise are the solutions.  In summary, people just need to be educated, read about it and make an effort to contribute and, at the very least, create your own healthy environment in your own backyard.
    Sitterle has been studying and tracking these processes of nature for over 20 years.  What he’s learned and has been able to prove is invaluable.  The fact that we’re losing one percent of our soil per year is something to think about.
    He says his mission is to “Save the world, one organic landscape at a time.”  And that is exactly what he has been doing, and well as educating people along the way.  He explains what the problems are, how those problems affect us all, both short term and long term, and provides simple solutions for everyone to play a part in saving our soil and mother nature.

Are you from Texas?
    Yes.  I was born in San Antonio and raised in Bulverde, TX (suburb of San Antonio).  I went to elementary, junior high,  and high school there.
    I left to attend University of Texas in Austin where I got an engineering degree and a marketing degree.
    Today, I own my own home on acreage in Bulverde.

How did you get started in business?

    In 1990, I worked for a landscaper. After six months I was running a crew and making $24,000 per year.  At the end of another six months, I was running two crews and making $36,000 per year. After two and a half years I realized I could go out on my own and so I did.  Working for someone was an education, mostly in how not to treat employees.
    I opened Metroscapes and did very well.  I worked mostly in residential at first then began contracting commercial projects, including hard scape.
    Fast forward 25 years, I opened Green Grow Organics because I saw how chemical additions to landscapes made them beautiful very quickly.  However, I also realized that once the chemicals go away, the landscape crashes because there’s nothing there, no residuals, no fungus, the organisms that actually feed the plant.

What are some interesting facts you can tell us?
    A couple of questions I like to ask people, “What is the tallest organism in the world?”  That would be the Sequoia trees in Northern California.  And, “How do they get that big when no man has ever fed them?”  The answer is the second largest organism in the world called the humongous fungus, a fungus that lives in the ground feeds those trees.  If you were to spray insecticide, fungicide or other chemicals around those trees, you would be killing the very things that are sustaining them.
    At Green Grow, we are trying to recreate the forest floor on a different level to permit an environment for grasses to grow.  But it has to be maintained.  I consider this business landscape husbandry because I handle everything from what goes down, what is inoculated, what is acidified in the water, when and how much.
    When I handle all those aspects, we have great success.  If I’m not able (hired)  to handle or maintain those areas, there is less success overall.

Where do those pesticides, chemicals and weed killers go?

    After they have killed the necessary fungus and organisms in the dirt that feed the landscape, the soil is left useless.  With the re-application of more chemicals, they continue to absorb into the earth and end up in other areas, like creek beds.  Those creeks and rivers carry the chemicals even further.

I would assume a solution would be to use all organic products and continue to maintain.

    Yes, it’s never too late to start using organic materials, including a compost tea maintenance program  I have developed a blend of oxygenated compost tea that will feed lawns and plants and replenish the soil.  The living, breathing organisms in compost tea are perishable with a life span of two hours.  A proprietary blend is placed in an oxygenated truck and kept alive until arrival at the area to be applied.  There, it is mixed and used within the two-hour time frame.

What about weeds?
    A weed is a plant who’s virtue is yet to be discovered.  The first thing Mother Nature does whenever there’s a disturbance or imbalance of the soils, is to send the lowliest of plants that will photosynthesize in that area.  The weed is there for a reason. What’s contained in the body of that weed are the minerals necessary for that area.  If you pull a weed, leave it where you pull it so it can continue to balance the soil as it decomposes.  If you pull a weed and take it away, Mother Nature will put another right there in it’s place.
    To control the weeds, you set the table for something else to grow.

So how has Green Grow Organics fared in the marketplace so far and where are you going?
    We’ve been able to get the City of San Antonio to adopt our techniques as an option in every city project that includes landscaping.  Green Grow Organics is now in the City Design Standards as an alternative to conventional chemical installations of landscapes. We are teamed with Sustainable Growth Texas.  Our Business Developer brought them to town.  Together we were able to save the city $1/2 million on the project.
    We see ourselves moving into the institutional and industrial in large Green Grow projects, i.e., the Lackland Corridor Gateway.
    Another is to address ranches 250 – 500 acres to help restore the land for sustaining cattle or whatever wildlife is chosen.
In summary?
    By teaming with Betsy Ross, of Sustainable Growth Texas, Green Grow Organics is expanding its outreach and knowledge base for the South Central Texas Region.  We’re moving into more consulting jobs for the natural soils management methodology that will save municipalities’ budgets for soil erosion, save water and regenerate healthy soils, so important to human health.  At Green Grow, we like to stay in a learning/teaching environment every day helping the design and construction community deliver sustainable landscapes for everyday use.  -rd

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Author Info

Reesa Doebbler reesa@constructionnews.net