Forest Green Rovers FC wins award for 'organic' pitch

Stuart Ward and the robotic lawn mower
Image caption Forest Green's solar-powered mower uses GPS technology, avoiding the need for human intervention

Forest Green Rovers Football Club has won an award for growing an "organic" pitch avoiding the use of chemicals.

The club was honoured by the Institute of Groundsmanship, beating 200 nominees to the top prize in the sustainability and environmental category.

The institute also recognised other factors, such as the club's solar panels and solar-powered mower.

Groundsman at the Conference National club Stewart Ward said he was "over the moon" at the honour.

'Unconventional methods'

He added that it was fantastic the club had been recognised as "a small fish in a big pond".

Mr Ward said: "It is great to be recognised by the industry leaders and shows that our unconventional methods really do work.

"I am constantly learning and am always keen to further my knowledge; I want to ensure that Forest Green Rovers are always at the forefront of the groundskeeping industry and am lucky that the chairman is very supportive of this."

Earlier in the year, the football club achieved an EU gold standard in environmental management, which contributed to the club securing the Institute of Groundmanship award.

Forest Green has a reputation for standing out from the football crowd: its solar-powered mower uses GPS technology, avoiding the need for human intervention.

And in February 2011, the club's owner, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince, banned burgers and sausages being sold to fans.

Free-range poultry and fish from sustainable stocks are served instead.

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