Washington, D.C. – Asking Americans to fundamentally change the way they care for their lawns and landscapes, the SafeLawns Foundation kicked off its Million Acre Lawn Challenge on the West Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 4.
“SafeLawns.org has a noble plan – to reduce the amount of toxic exposures in the home environment,” said author and pediatrician Dr. Alan Vinitsky, one of nine speakers who addressed the crowd numbering approximately 100 on a rainy, brisk afternoon.
Other speakers included: Holly H. Shimizu, Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden; Dr. Beth McGee, Senior Water Quality Scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Dr. Diana Post, President of the Rachel Carson Council; Howard Garrett, a certified Landscape Architect who also hosts the popular radio show “The Dirt Doctor;” Virginia Field, Director of LivingLawn.org in Marblehead, MA; and Dr. William C. Sadler, chief of product development for Bradfield Organics, a subsidiary of Land OLakes Purina Mills. SafeLawns.org founder Paul Tukey and Executive Director Shepherd Ogden also addressed the audience, which included members of the local and national media, as well as a large group of local schoolchildren.
“I offer you my congratulations on the launch of the SafeLawns Foundation and applaud your efforts to make our nation a healthier place to live,” said Maine Governor John Baldacci in a prepared statement. “At your prompting, we are reviewing our standards for daycare centers to determine if they should be strengthened. We look forward to sharing our experience and learning from other states approaches to secure the most effective strategies for promoting organic lawn care and improved health and safety of our citizens.”
There are between forty and fifty million acres of turf in the US alone, and pesticide and fertilizer applications to this ground – where our kids and pets play – can be three to six times that of agricultural land.
“If we can convert even one million acres of this land to organic management by 2010, it will have a very significant impact on the soil, the water, the air and our own health and the health of generations to come,” said SafeLawns Executive Director, Shepherd Ogden. “We are asking American consumers, as well as public and private institutions, to help us meet this Million Acre Challenge.”
Consumers and land care professionals can “pledge” the acreage they plan to manage organically at the SafeLawns website: http://www.safelawns.org/Million-Acre-Challenge.php .
Aside from consumers, three main avenues of conversion were introduced:
1) Schools and colleges, as well as corporations, were challenged to eliminate the use of lawn chemicals on their campus or headquarter lawns, as a number have already done;
2) State and local governments across the U.S. were urged to take part in a nationwide legislative effort to eliminate lawn care pesticides at day care and school grounds – similar to a law recently adopted in Connecticut;
3) Real estate brokerage and development firms will be offered the opportunity to participate in a Safe Lawns program to certify to home buyers that the lawns around their new properties are child and pet safe.
In addition to converting existing acreage of turf to organic management, SafeLawns.org works with product and service firms to facilitate growth of the organic sector of the Green Industry through participation in industry meetings, and development of training materials for green industry professional. “We aim to make the Green Industry greener,” says Founder and Spokesperson Paul Tukey, both in terms of greater sales and profits, and in terms of environmental friendliness and sensitivity.”
For more information about these and other programs of the SafeLawns Foundation, call Paul or visit the web site at http://www.safelawns.org .
The SafeLawns.org Mission: To create a broad-based coalition of organizations committed to educating society about the benefits of organic lawn care and gardening and effect a quantum change in consumer and industry behavior in turf and grounds maintenance.