Orange County

Artificial lawn coming to Carrboro’s Weaver Street Market? Don’t worry, it’s natural.

The lawn outside Weaver Street Market in downtown Carrboro will soon be getting a layer of “artificial” turf. In the file photo Above, Pete Pawsey, left, of Radar’s Clowns of Sedation, dances through the crowd at the 2014 Carrboro Music Festival.
The lawn outside Weaver Street Market in downtown Carrboro will soon be getting a layer of “artificial” turf. In the file photo Above, Pete Pawsey, left, of Radar’s Clowns of Sedation, dances through the crowd at the 2014 Carrboro Music Festival. mschultz@newsobserver.com

A top gathering spot in Carrboro is getting a spruce up that some may find surprising.

Weaver Street Market plans to install a small artificial lawn out front as part of a makeover for the bustling natural foods co-op.

But don’t worry, the fake grass originates from nature. It’s made from processed sugar cane stalks.

General manager Ruffin Slater said he was unsure at first about putting artificial turf on the lawn of a store known for its wide variety of trans fat- and high fructose corn syrup-free products.

“So far everybody really loves the idea that we’re going to do something,” Slater said. “Some people were a little skeptical of the artificial grass, but a lot of the feedback we’re getting was that they didn’t think we should be putting in something based on petroleum products.”

Something had to be done, he said.

Through the years, they’ve put down sod. But it never lasted more than a few months, Slater said. Ditto mulch. It would wash away in heavy rains, leaving bare dirt, he said.

“We feel responsible for kind of coming up with a better solution,” Slater said.

The lawn at Weaver Street has gotten a lot of use since the store opened in 1988.

Sunday mornings usually draw several hundred people to hear live jazz and for brunch under the canopy of majestic oak trees, he said. But almost every day has people plopping down at the picnic tables and drinking coffee, eating sandwiches, salads or plates from the hot bar.

The turf will be installed in front of the spot where musicians set up. It will cover about 40 feet by 25 feet. There still will be plenty of wide-open space, Slater said. A low fence will be added near the street, and a few more trees will be planted, too. The new trees will provide a transition for when the older trees eventually have to be removed.

The plan also calls for extending the patio using special blocks that will not harm the existing trees, he said.

“It provides a good base for the paving stones,” Slater said. “But it also allows water and air to get down to the tree roots. Basically, the whole patio will have that below it.”

After the Carrboro Town Commons, the front lawn at Weaver Street is probably the most important public open space in the town, said Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle.

Slater said the upgrades to the lawn and cafe area will make the store more appealing to patrons.

Faith Kline of Durham said she ventures over to Weaver Street Market two or three times a week.

“It’s a unique space,” she said. “It’s a place that brings artists, scholars and business people together.”

Kline, who works in real estate, said she’s heard of the type of artificial grass Weaver Street will be installing.

“It’s environmentally friendly,” Kline said. “I’ve seen it used and, it really works well.”

The store is holding an open house Sunday from noon to 2 p.m., for people interested in seeing the planned upgrades. Slater said they’ve incorporated some new ideas from two previous open houses.

The town board has to approve the proposal before construction can begin. It could be on the agenda for the Sept. 4 meeting. If the plan is approved, Slater said the new trees will be planted in late fall or early winter when they’re dormant. The patio improvements would then follow.

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