Organic lawn care takes root in Connecticut
Spring has sprung and now is the time for homeowners to start thinking about lawn care. And there is some good news to report to them: Aesthetically pleasing and no longer cost prohibitive, organic lawn care has gone mainstream as evidence of the health risks of pesticides — to human and non-human animals — piles up.
Connecticut is among the areas leading the way nationally, according to Chip Osborne, who is on the board of Beyond Pesticides, a national advocacy group for the elimination of pesticides. And two Fairfield County moms are helping to lead the charge. Micaela Porter and Heather Lauver founded Pesticide-Free New Canaan and are inspiring their community one lawn at a time.
They said they had no other option after researching the health risks associated with pesticides, such as leukemia, lymphoma, asthma, depression and fertility issues, as well as the negative impacts they have on pets and wildlife.
Studies have shown that the use of professionally applied pesticides was associated with a 70% higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma. And they’ve proven that dogs can internalize lawn chemicals from exposure to their treated lawn, exposure to their untreated by contaminated lawn, and from other treated areas such as parks.
They inspired the Rowayton Gardeners, with the help of Friends of Animals FoA, to reach out to their elected officials about making the switch from using a chemical called quinclorac to a pesticide-free program at Pinkney Park in Rowayton.
Their story and a number of other case studies nationwide are featured in an article in FoA’s Spring 2014 edition of Action Line, which can be read atfriendsofanimals.org/magazine/spring-2014.
While there are more lawn care providers offering organic services these days, the article also provides some basic steps you can take to go organic on your own since this is the time of year to get started.
This topic of organic lawn care is particularly important as FoA and Pesticide Free New Canaan have been raising awareness to get bills passed to reduce pesticide use in Connecticut and ban GMO grass. The purpose of H.B. No. 5330 is to protect children’s health from exposure to toxic lawn pesticides by applying the same restrictions concerning the application of lawn pesticides at school grounds to the application of pesticides at parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and municipal greens.
S.B. No. 443 will extend the ban on the use of lawn care pesticides in elementary and grade schools to include high schools in 2017. This bill also contains an amendment that would ban genetically modified “Roundup Ready” grass seed. The concern is that agricultural companies are developing grass seeds to be “Roundup Ready,” which means they will be genetically designed to withstand more application of the popular weed-killing herbicide, which contains the chemical glyphosate. And if glyphosate resistant grass becomes prevalent, GMO Free Connecticut founder Tara Cook-Littman believes people will dramatically increase their usage of the product, which will have negative impact on the environment as well as the health of human and non-human animals.
Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world. www.friendsofanimals.org