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Sunset gets greener, on and off golf course: healthier menu options, recycling, native plants

Posted 8/7/19

It might be hard to see Sunset Golf Course as anything but green. But Londonderry Township and golf course staff are working to make the course even greener.

In May, township MS4 Coordinator …

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Sunset gets greener, on and off golf course: healthier menu options, recycling, native plants

Posted

It might be hard to see Sunset Golf Course as anything but green. But Londonderry Township and golf course staff are working to make the course even greener.

In May, township MS4 Coordinator Monique Dykman announced a new sustainability program at the course called Greener Greens.

“There are a lot of advances that we can make at the golf course to be sustainable,” Dykman told the Press & Journal in an interview.

Dykman, Sunset golf and food manager Sam Risteff and MS4 intern Donato Grimaldi have numerous ideas including adding healthier options to the menu, recycling more and expanding native plants on the course.

Greener Greens, Dykman said, seemed like an easy way for both the township and golf course to work together and make an impact on people who live in the township, including reducing the amount of waste and red meat consumed and raising awareness.

Being Risteff’s first year in his position, he said it seemed like a great time to implement the program.

“I have been in the golf business for almost 40 years as a manager and golf superintendent. Being proactive in our industry is very important for our sustainability,” he said.

He said Dykman proposed the program a few months ago.

Greener Greens is made up of four components: recycling; being conscious consumers; planting native plants; and their “parties with a purpose,” from which portions of the proceeds from alcoholic beverage purchases will go toward the campaign.

The first party with a purpose was called “Fill Your Glasses for Native Grasses,” which launched the Greener Greens campaign. Hopes are that the native grasses will be planted this fall, Dykman said.

After 600 trees were removed from the front nine holes of the course in November 2017 because of flight safety concerns at Harrisburg International Airport, Sunset staff planted native grasses and plants around many holes, greens and fairways, which Dykman likened to making the course look like one in the United Kingdom.

She said she hopes to expand these low-mow grasses, which only have to be mowed a couple of times a year, to benefit animals that live in these habitats including pollinators such as bats, birds and bees.

As Dykman explained it, native animals have adapted to eating native plants to the area. When an invasive species of plant is introduced to the area, it might not taste good to the native animals or have the right nutrition for them. The animals then eat all of the native plants, and the invasive species thrives.

“We need a big biodiversity not only because biodiversity is good, but for the different sorts of animals that feed of the plants and have their roles in the ecosystem,” Dykman said.

The next theme, “Beer for Bees,” kicked off July 15 and runs through Aug. 15.

Dykman said she hopes to make recycling an option for aluminum products, but her vision goes beyond that. One of their ideas is to buy a water bottle filling station, meaning fewer bottled waters would be purchased. Instead of serving food on disposable products, Dykman and Grimaldi hope to get a dishwasher and second-hand plates.

Grimaldi pulled the golf course’s bills from its supply distribution company and estimated that the golf course spent several thousand dollars a year on single-use products. It would cost about $8,000 to purchase a dishwasher and reusable dishes, which he estimated would take less than two years for the township to pay off based on what it was spending on paper and plastic products.

During the July 1 Londonderry Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairwoman Anna Dale suggested having consistent patrons buy a mug that could be reused when they come in.

Besides adding less waste into landfills, Dykman said switching to reusable dishes also means a lower chance that paper and plastic products would blow out of the trash and off the deck.

Getting a bottle filling station and dishwasher isn’t set in stone, and may depend on the waterlines and if the kitchen could be expanded to house the dishwasher, Dykman said.

“A place like this is super special, and it could definitely be getting a bigger crowd,” Grimaldi said. “It could even be attracting people from Harrisburg or Lancaster.”

Most of the food on the current menu is fried. To try to attract more people to the course, Grimaldi said a wider variety of food, including vegetarian options, should be offered.

“We’re learning that golfers like something quick and easy. They like to grab hot dogs and go out on the course. So this would be attracting a new clientele who would want something different but at the same place,” Dykman said.

Grimaldi is working on a new all-day menu. Restaurant-goers will still have their favorite dishes, but have new options such as veggie burgers, salads and wraps. Instead of fries on the side, patrons can have a salad or coleslaw or potato salad on the side.

“We’ll see how the new menu changes people’s habits,” Dykman said.

So far reactions have been positive. Risteff said the first time the spinach artichoke dip was on the menu, it wasn’t a hit, but by the second and third time it was offered, they ran out.

“Sunset has a great core of golfing members and patrons that support our club and events. Change takes time, but successful when accepted by those who participate in that program,” Risteff said.