The Greenest Grass with Pearl’s Premium Jackson Madnick

August 21, 2015

John Shegerian: Welcome to Green Is Good. This is the Green Festival edition of Green Is Good. We are here in beautiful downtown Washington, D.C., and we’re so excited. We’ve got Jackson Madnick with us. He is the CEO of Pearl’s Premium. Welcome to Green Is Good. Jackson Madnick: Thank you so much. John Shegerian: Oh sure, Jackson. And this is the first time ever – you’ve brought one of your guests with you. You brought your dog, Zoe. Jackson Madnick: Right. Zoe is our spokesdog, and one of our biggest fans and why we created this grass seed. John Shegerian: Well, I love it. Well, we’re going to talk about Zoe in a little bit. Let’s first start with Pearl’s Premium. What is Pearl’s Premium, and when did you start Pearl’s Premium, Jackson? Jackson Madnick: Well, I’m on my third career. I used to be a cameraman and reporter for CBS News and then I produced major environmental shows all over the country – in stadiums, parks and on rivers – that had to do with the environment, energy, hope, vision, harmony, world peace. And my biggest event is I designed the grand finale for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: That was televised worldwide to a half a billion people. John Shegerian: Wow. And then when did you come up with the idea for Pearl’s Premium, and when did you start that? Jackson Madnick: After doing 17 years of producing major events all over the country, I thought I’d take a little time off to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up. I renovated a little fixer-upper house in Wayland, Massachusetts, to be 90-percent heated, cooled and powered by the sun and the Earth. While I was renovating my house, someone came by and talked me into joining the local surface water quality committee that takes care of all the lakes and ponds in a community. And I took a weekend crash course in lake and pond management, and I found out that the No. 1 enemy of lakes, ponds, rivers and the ocean is lawn care fertilizer. When people put chemical fertilizer in their lawns if the irrigation goes on or it rains that day it washes off the lawn on to the hard surface, down the street into the storm drain, and it doesn’t disappear. It ends up in the local lake, pond, river or the ocean. So when people are fertilizing their lawns, actually 80 percent of it fertilizes the lakes and ponds just to grow the invasive weeds out of control. Then we tested our drinking water in our community and we found that there were low levels of lawn care fertilizer, lawn care pesticides and the herbicides that we were using to get rid of the invasive weeds in the pond caused by the lawn care fertilizer. So I did some research and I found out there was no such thing as a low-maintenance grass in the world. So I wanted to create a low-maintenance grass that didn’t need chemicals, needed less water, that was more sustainable and healthier. So I did a little research and found out who were the four smartest PhDs on the planet in turf science and then I engaged them to create a lawn grass. I thought it would take a year or two, but it actually took eight years. Almost a million dollars of research. John Shegerian: Wow. When did it launch? When did you launch this? Jackson Madnick: Well, we had something in the fall of 2009, and we’ve been selling it for four years now and this is our fifth year, and we’re in about 300,000 lawns all across the country. John Shegerian: Wow. How many stores are selling your product? Jackson Madnick: I’m not sure. About 300 stores right now. John Shegerian: Three hundred stores. And for our listeners and our viewers out there, to find Jackson’s great product, they can go to www.PearlsPremium.com. Is there a zip code locator in that where they could find the stores locally in their area? Or not yet? Jackson Madnick: Yes. There is. John Shegerian: There is. That’s great. Jackson Madnick: And right now it’s available at all the Whole Foods supermarkets in New England. John Shegerian: That’s great. Jackson Madnick: And 135 Costco stores across the country that may be sold out within two weeks. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: So if you want this, you have to go to a local Costco and see if they still have it. John Shegerian: And can they buy it on your website as well? Jackson Madnick: They can buy it all year long on our website. John Shegerian: On the website. So tell our listeners and our viewers why your grass is better than any other grass they could put in for their lawn. Jackson Madnick: Well, it has a number of interesting properties. First of all, it’s based on seeds that were here before the American Indians. It’s native grass and it has a couple seeds that are adaptive – been here in the United States for over 100 years and adapted to our climate – but it’s these particular seeds growing in very exact proportions to interact to create two phenomena. One is it grows 12- to 14-inch deep roots. Most grasses are only two or three inch roots. Then, also, the other interactive phenomena of our grasses and our proportions is it slows down the rate of the grass so you only have to mow it once every four to six weeks instead of every week. And if you don’t mow it, it leans over to become a “no-mow” lawn only three inches high. John Shegerian: And how about water? Less water than normal grass? Jackson Madnick: Because of the slow growth and the 12 to 14 inch roots it needs one quarter of the water of any other grass on the planet, and it looks better during a drought with no water. John Shegerian: So, basically, if a person doesn’t want to go “zeroscape.” Jackson Madnick: Yeah. John Shegerian: This is the type of grass they should be into their lawn instead of just the traditional grass, right? Jackson Madnick: Absolutely. People call it the “non-grass grass.” They call it the “Holy Grail of grass.” They call it “miracle grass.” John Shegerian: Can you show what it looks like to our viewers out there? Jackson Madnick: This is what our grass looks like in Hotlanta two years ago when they had the hottest drought in history – more days of over 100 degrees. This is a green lawn. The police used to go by and knock on their green front door here and want to write them a $200 dollar ticket because they had the only green lawn in the neighborhood during a water ban. They thought they were sneaking and watering in the middle of the night. John Shegerian: Right. Wow. Jackson Madnick: Besides it growing very dark and green, it out-competes weeds. This picture here shows on the right our grass and on the left chock full of weeds. Our grass out-competes weeds, out-competes other grass. John Shegerian: Have any sports venues started adopting the use of your grass yet? Jackson Madnick: Not yet. You can use it in 95 percent of the grass in the country. It’s only places that they have cleats on their shoes, it beats it up. John Shegerian: OK. Jackson Madnick: It’s a very soft grass. John Shegerian: I got you. Jackson Madnick: So it can’t take cleats. It can’t take sports fields, but it’s good for everything else. John Shegerian: Wow. That’s amazing. So this is really the most sustainable or the greenest grass someone could put into their lawn. Jackson Madnick: Yeah. It’s the greenest grass in the world. And it’s the only grass that gets LEED credits if you know what LEED is. John Shegerian: Yeah. Jackson Madnick: This is a LEED house in New England. John Shegerian: Beautiful. Jackson Madnick: And it’s on Cape Cod where they have very sandy soil. They’ve never had grass before because the water drains right through but because this needs one quarter the water of other grass it can grow in any condition and in sandy soil. John Shegerian: Are you selling this just in the United States Right now, or is this in Canada and around the world as well? Jackson Madnick: We’re in about 300,000 lawns all over North America. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: Canada and about a dozen foreign countries. John Shegerian: Tell us about Zoe a little bit. How did Zoe become your spokesdog? Jackson Madnick: I’ve always had rescue dogs, where we visit military and children’s hospitals to cheer up patients. I got Zoe – Zoe rescued me, I rescued Zoe – and we visit military and children’s hospitals as I mentioned, and she just became our dog. Part of the reason I developed the grass was to protect pond, protect children from the risks of chemical fertilizer but also to protect dogs. It turns out that dogs are at four times the risk of cancer if you use chemicals on the lawn. John Shegerian: Well, let’s slow this down, Jackson, because this is an important point that I hadn’t thought of. You’re saying that if we have listeners and viewers out there that own pets this is the type of grass they should be using because traditional grass has opportunity to poison their pets. Jackson Madnick: Absolutely. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: It turns out that lawn care chemical fertilizer stings the pads of their feet. John Shegerian: Aww. Jackson Madnick: So they go inside, they’re sitting in the corner and they’re licking this stuff off their feet to get rid of the stinging sensation and they’re ingesting chemical fertilizer. John Shegerian: Whoa. Jackson Madnick: And according to Dr. Roman in New England – who is a pet veterinarian authority – she says that “Dogs who experience chemical fertilizer are at four to seven times the risk of cancer.” John Shegerian: Whoa. That’s never even discussed in the media. Jackson Madnick: Yeah. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: And Dr. Alex Lewis – the Head of Toxicology for the Harvard School of Public Health – says that “Up to 40 percent of all the cancers and many of the sicknesses are caused by toxins in our environment,” and the No. 1 toxin in our environment is lawn care fertilizer. It actually has been linked to learning and behavioral disorders for children, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, sexual dysfunction, cancer and leukemia. So if you can eliminate lawn care fertilizer, you can avoid the risk. John Shegerian: Which is what your product does. Jackson Madnick: Yes. You never ever need chemical fertilizer for that grass. John Shegerian: So this is called the ultra low-maintenance. Jackson Madnick: Lawn seed. John Shegerian: Lawn seed. Jackson Madnick: It also sequesters carbon. Because of the 12-inch deep roots and the density of the grass, it absorbs two tons of carbon per acre per year. John Shegerian: Wow. Jackson Madnick: So that’s four times the amount of carbon compared to other grass so it actually can help put a dent in global warming and climate change. John Shegerian: Jackson, this is the type of grass that everyone should be using. It’s obvious then. Thank you for coming on our show. Thank you for bringing Zoe on. It’s Jackson Madnick. He is the CEO and founder of Pearl’s Premium. To find where you can buy Pearl’s Premium or buy it online, please go to www.PearlsPremium.com. Thank you, Jackson – thank you, Zoe – for making the world a better place. You are truly living proof that Green Is Good. Jackson Madnick: Very good. Thank you.