Turf & Rec

Guelph Turfgrass Institute: celebrating 25 years of success

May 9, 2012  By  Mike Jiggens

Congratulations to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute for 25 years of service to the turfgrass industry in Canada. The GTI is the best of its kind in Canada and is among the premier facilities in the world for the work it does.

It’s also a fine example of what can be accomplished when three different groups come together for a common cause. The GTI’s three partnering parties were the University of Guelph, the Ontario government and the turfgrass industry itself.

All three groups played a key role in getting the GTI established and continue to drive this world-class facility. No one group can really be considered more important than the other.

This milestone celebration may be deemed as somewhat bittersweet among those attached to the GTI. There’s certainly good reason to celebrate, and the GTI has left its mark on the industry in many positive ways. Unfortunately, it is also facing an inevitable move sometime down the road.


The provincial government, which owns the land off Victoria Road in Guelph, will ultimately be selling the property to the city for new development in keeping with the Ontario Green Belt Act of 2005, which mandates that cities intensify development within their own boundaries and refrain from annexing or sprawling out beyond those defined perimeters.

The land is considered prime estate by the city and fits its needs to a T.


No exact time frame for the pending move has been formally announced, but it’s expected to be sooner than later.

GTI director Rob Witherspoon has not let the need for relocation affect his celebratory mood in recognizing 25 years. In fact, he sees new opportunities presenting themselves for the GTI in whatever location it finds for its new home. The hope is to establish new research plots as close to the university as possible.
In this issue, we present a retrospective of the GTI’s first 25 years, with references to the key movers and shakers who got the facility up and running, the challenges they faced along the way and how the GTI was responsible for the retention of the turfgrass management diploma program in Guelph when other University of Guelph diploma programs were being transferred to satellite campuses in Kemptville and Ridgetown.

It’s a success story of the highest order and one that, in spite of the GTI’s pending move, will continue to be successful in its relationship with an important Canadian industry.

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