JR “Rusty” Wilkins, owner and co-founder of Green Valley Turf Co is the GreenCo (Green Industries of Colorado) Person of the Year for 2012. Rusty and father-in-law K.C. Ensor started Green Valley Turf Co. in 1962. Mr. Ensor, who was a home builder and developer, needed a local source of sod for his new homes. The appeal for the new homes was that they came with a lawn. The slogan said it all. “The Homes with the Instant Lawn” and “Lay Today, Mow Tomorrow”.
50 years of innovations
In 50 years, Rusty has built Green Valley Turf Co. from the original 5 acres to over 600 acres with farms in Littleton, Platteville and Ft. Lupton, Colorado. In the 60’s, Rusty started using pallets and fork lifts to move sod around rather than loading turf by hand. In the 70’s, Green Valley Turf began using slab harvesters to cut sod which was a quicker and easier way to harvest sod. In the early 80’s, Green Valley Turf Co. had the first fully automatic sod harvester in Colorado. In 1982, Green Valley Turf Co. hosted the ASPA (American Sod Producers Association) convention in Platteville, CO., which featured the first sod rodeo and international attendees. Also in the 80’s due to drought conditions, Rusty started experimenting with alternative grasses for turf production and grew wild flower sod. In the 90’s, he was one of the first in the area to harvest and install big rolls making sod installation more efficient with less seams.
Invaluable member of the green industry
Rusty has been an advocate for the Green Industry for 50 years. He is a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Sod Growers and has held numerous positions there. Rusty was an active member with ASPA (American Sod Producers Association) and a current members of TPI (Turf Producers International). He was on the GreenCo legislative committee and on the board of the RMRTA (Rocky Mountain Regional Turfgrass Association) for five years. Rusty continues to be an invaluable member of the green industry and sod growers community across the United States.