You probably were aware that walnut shells are used in so many different applications, right? From facial and body scrubs to plywood, walnuts have been widely used in cleaning, polishing, filtration, anti-slip additives and even dynamite, to name a few.

But the world's first walnut shell-based sports field is about to debut, and this revolutionary, environmentally-sound new artificial turf is right here on the SouthCoast. It will officially be unveiled at The Wheeler School in Seekonk this Thursday.

The installation of this innovative turf replaces the traditional "crumb rubber" turf, which is made from old shredded tires. Many players complain about the lack of give on such fields, which can lead athletes to develop what is known as "turf toe." That's not to mention the constant rubbery smell and hot temperatures of the field on warm days.

That all changes with the walnut shell turf.

The unique, natural product is called Safeshell, from U.S. grown walnuts, and is produced by only one company in the world, Cincinnati-based USGreentech.

The Safeshell field blends crushed black walnut shells, for strength and durability, with English walnut shells, which provide traction, firm support and natural ball bounce. The playing surface is also, on average, more than 38-degrees Fahrenheit cooler than crumb rubber.

And when the field reaches the end of its lifespan (in approximately 8-12 years), it is simply composted like any other agricultural product. USGreentech even developed a patent-pending method of eliminating all potential nut allergens from Safeshell.

“We partnered with a leading biotechnology firm to develop a completely new chemical-free process that eliminates any allergens that might remain on the shell after separation from the nut,” explained Adam Coleman, General Manager for USGreentech. “The process removes allergens to less than 2.4 parts per million, which is even lower than FDA guidelines for food products.”

Courtesy USGreentech
Courtesy USGreentech

The new synthetic turf field at the Wheeler School’s 120-acre Farm Athletics Complex was made possible by an anonymous financial gift from a Wheeler alumni family. The funder specified that the field must utilize an organic, environmentally safe infill system rather than crumb rubber.

Local athletic directors and sports facility managers who want to check out the new field during its unveiling on Thursday can register to attend.

That's it, in a nut shell.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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