Saturday, February 14, 2009
Supporting Bill 64 is 'a no-brainer'...And More
The Guelph Mercury
Supporting Bill 64 is 'a no-brainer'
Dear Editor - Re: Thank you for publishing the excellent letter byGideon Forman on the benefits of the coming Ontario lawn pesticide ban("Pesticide ban will be a boon to economy," Feb. 5).
But nurses are baffled by the response from Lilian Schaer, interimexecutive director, Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources andthe Environment -- "Legislation will disadvantage farmers" (letter tothe editor, Feb. 10). She states "the unbalanced regulatoryenvironment that this legislation (Bill 64) creates will certainlymake it harder for farmers to be competitive with those in othercountries."
But she never explains how legislation, which clearly and explicitlyexempts agriculture, will make it harder for Ontario farmers tocompete.
Supporting the province's Bill 64 is a no-brainer.
It will get rid of an unnecessary health hazard to which our childrenare most vulnerable.
Homeowners and the lawn-care industry can easily switch to much saferalternatives, without a significant change in costs.
The Ontario government got this one right, and it deserves credit forthat.
--Wendy Fucile, president, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
© Copyright 2007 Metroland Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved.
Thursday, February 5, 2009; H04
Working Toward Guidelines for a Truly Green Garden
By Adrian Higgins
There's someone on my block pouring greenhouse gases into theatmosphere, contributing to summer smog and allowing polluted runoffto reach the Chesapeake Bay. It's me. Oh, and you. And everyone else.
The ecological pendulum has swung somewhat since the postwar decades,when homeowners blithely burned autumn leaves and applied nastypesticides and too many synthetic fertilizers to their garden plants.But we still have a long way to go before our gardens are ecologicallysustainable. This may sound strange, given that the whole point ofgardening is to venerate nature, secure in the knowledge that ourplants trap carbon, provide shade and pump oxygen into the air.
But in existing properties, too many gardens are part of the problem,with plants needing chemical support because they are ill-chosen or inpoor soils, or both. Lawns, apart from requiring repeated fertilizerapplications, rely on gas-powered mowers and blowers.
Even gardeners who are dutifully trying to be green by minimizing thelawn, turning to hand tools and planting low-maintenance vegetationsee storm water gushing down the driveway into the street, losingwater that otherwise could be used in the garden while reducing riverpollution.
"Our landscapes use a tremendous amount of water without us takingconsideration if that resource may be limited," said Heather Venhaus,a landscape architect in Austin.
Venhaus is the project manager of a quietly evolving effort totransform the way we build or redo our yards. The Sustainable SitesInitiative (http://www.sustainablesites.org) seeks to achieve forlandscapes -- residential, commercial, institutional -- what the U.S.Green Building Council has accomplished in the design and constructionof ecologically friendly buildings. Since the D.C.-based council'scoveted green building rating system began in 2000, the council hascertified 2,122 buildings, and 17,450 more are in the pipeline, saidspokeswoman Ashley Katz.
The landscape initiative has been developed by the Lady Bird JohnsonWildflower Center, part of the University of Texas at Austin, and twoWashington-based organizations, the American Society of LandscapeArchitects and the U.S. Botanic Garden. Working with volunteerexperts, the initiative's staff is preparing guidelines and technicalbenchmarks that professionals would use to design, build and maintaingreener landscapes.
These include using recycled rain and household water for irrigation,improving soil health with compost, choosing plants suited to the siteand its climate, avoiding chemicals that contribute to smog and usingvegetation to reduce the heat island effect of cities.
The enterprise's Web site features case studies of how an ecologicallysustainable garden might be built, including two on the West Coast,where water shortages are an issue and the lush, green front lawn isno longer the suburban icon it once was.
In the Southern California city of Santa Monica, landscape designerSusanne Jett took two 1940s houses on the same street and, as ademonstration project, installed in one a traditional front garden,with all its demands on the environment, and in the other a gardenthat seeks to tread gently on the Earth.
The Native Garden, installed for $16,700, includes California shrubs,perennials and grasses on a site with drip irrigation and elements tocapture and reuse rainwater. Jett installed roof gutters and a rainchain to direct rainwater to a catch basin, which then moves the waterto a buried pit in the opposite corner of the yard. The infiltrationpit, measuring four cubic feet, is filled with plastic cells but couldcontain four-inch stones. The water stored in it after a storm seepsinto the soil to feed the deep-rooted, drought-tolerant plants in thegarden, and none of the rainwater leaves the site.
The Traditional Garden, installed for $12,400, features such typicalbut inappropriate plants as azaleas and gardenias that like heavy soilon the acidic side, planted in sandy, alkaline soils, along withhydrangeas and fuchsias. It also has a lawn and sprinklers.
Jett calculated that the Traditional Garden consumes more than 280,000gallons of water per year, generates 647 pounds of yard waste andcosts $223 annually for the labor to maintain it, including mowing andedging the lawn.
The Native Garden is simply cut back by hand twice a year, consumes64,000 gallons of water, generates 219 pounds of yard waste and costs$70.44 to maintain annually.
"People are attached to the lawn, but it's a landscape paradigm that'sin the process of changing," said Jett, owner of Jettscapes Landscape.
In Portland, Ore., landscape designer Deborah Tolman created an eco-friendly garden for Betsy Malolepsy and Gary Battershell. To avoidsoil compaction, no heavy equipment was allowed on the site, and thepesticide-contaminated soil was amended heavily with compost. Rainbarrels collect water, plants were selected for their ownmicroclimates and tap-water use for the garden has been reduced tojust 10 percent of household consumption, even though the couple has agarden that supplies 60 percent of their vegetables.
"It was key to me to have the garden look good," Tolman said. "Thereare some vegetable plantings in the front yard; you just can't tell."
The initiative's guide is being developed for engineers and landscapearchitects and "is too technical for homeowners," said Holly Shimizu,executive director of the Botanic Garden. She hopes for a version forhomeowners "so they can do it themselves or know what to ask" of aprofessional.
However, it often takes finding the right professional to make itwork. Tolman not only designed the garden for Malolepsy andBattershell but also allowed them to do much of the labor themselvesto save money and then taught them how to maintain it in anecologically sensitive way. This is not the business strategy of a lotof garden design firms.
"I was able to copy the practices that Debbie taught us," Malolepsysaid. "We definitely didn't want to use pesticides; we wanted to growfood as much as we could and have little enough grass that we can usea push mower," she said.
They recycled chimney bricks into paving, started composting to buildthe soil and turned a fallen tree into firewood and fencing. Salvagingold material is one of the tenets of the Sustainable Sites Initiative.
Jett anticipates a time when jurisdictions will exert controls similarto those in Santa Monica, where site runoff and the use of pesticidesare not allowed. Soon, a state law will require future irrigationsystems to be linked to weather conditions via satellite to reducewater use.
"I have seen a huge increase in homeowner interest and by landscapeprofessionals," Jett said. "They are realizing this is the way of thefuture. There's still a lot of resistance from homeowners andprofessionals, but it's going to come around. Unfortunately, [a lot ofpeople] will be forced into this, and they won't be prepared."
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© 2009 The Washington Post Company
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tips on gardening without pesticides
A free workshop Feb. 21 will show you how to maintain a healthy gardenwithout using pesticides.
Sonoma County Master Gardener Gloria Whitely will give her own step-by-step recipe for creating a naturally healthy garden from 10:30 a.m. to12:30 p.m. at the Sebastopol Library.
"My basic ingredients include proper soil preparation, careful plantselection and good garden practices combined with biological andmechanical pest controls," Whitely said. "By creating a healthy gardenthat is in harmony with nature, you will lessen the need for harmfulpesticides."
The workshop is part of a pesticide reduction program that is acooperative effort among the Master Gardeners, The city of Santa Rosaand the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency. 7140 Bodega Ave.565-2608 or sonomamastergardeners.org.
All rights reserved.
City Considers Grass Clippings BanOfficials in Southlake, Texas, are considering a ban on curb-sidecollections of grass clippings.
Residents in Southlake, Texas, like to see grass clippings raked outof their large plush lawns.
A ban on curb-side collections is being considered. The plan entailsleaving the clippings on the yard to decompose rather than adding themto the landfill.
Some homeowners, such as Pauline Moreno, hope it doesn't go through.
"It's more practical just as a homeowner to be able to dispose of it,"she said. "I hope they give us good options to dispose of it eitherthat or get the landscapers to dispose of it and that's an extraexpense to the homeowner."
Assistant city manager Alison Ortowski says the city's pursuing thisgreen initiative to save money and the environment.
"There is some budgetary benefit but the most important thing about itis the impact on the environment," Ortowski said.
Southlake homes generate an average of 42 pounds of trash percollection. That's 68 percent more than nearby communities. Southlakeresidents also use 650 gallons of water per capita per day. That'snearly five times the state average. And most of the water is used onlawns. So the city wants to reduce the impact on the environment.
"Grasscycling is basically a process of mowing your yard in such a waythat as you mow the grass clippings are continuing to be cut andmulched as you mow around the yard," Ortowski added.
Arlington and Grand Prairie have similar bans. And while somehomeowners have gotten used to leaving grass clippings on their yardsother's don't like it.
"It's dying look how it looks it was green when we first moved in thehouse," said Gjulgjan Kohnic of Arlington.
The city council will take up the matter next month.
Turf Conversion Program Wilts in Response to the Economy
To receive Southern Nevada's Water Smart Landscape rebate, residentsfirst must replace turf with desert landscaping. Upfront costs preventmany residents from completing the program.
With its busiest time of the year fast approaching, the SouthernNevada Water Authority is hoping that its popular turf conversionprogram won't wilt in the withering economy.
This year, the Water Authority is paying $1.50 per square foot of turfreplaced with desert landscaping, up to 1,500 square feet, and $1 persquare foot thereafter, with a maximum rebate of $300,000.
Since the Water Smart Landscapes program is a rebate, however, itrequires homeowners and businesses to do the work first. That up-frontcost, combined with a shortfall between the average rebate and theaverage conversion cost, causes more than 30 percent of those who areaccepted into the program to not follow through, Water Authorityofficials say.
With spending ability severely limited in the Las Vegas Valley,Conservation Programs Administrator Toby Bickmore said the WaterAuthority is emphasizing the cost-saving potential of turf conversion.
"Unfortunately, just the ways things are, water rates are increasing,just like power rates and everything else," he said. "(Turfconversion) may take a couple years to pay for itself, but in the longterm, you'll be saving money on your water bills, which willundoubtedly be going up."
The Water Authority estimates that each square foot of turf removedsaves 55 gallons of water per year. Multiplied by the size of aconverted area and evaluated over time, Bickmore said, desertlandscaping can amount to serious savings, both in water usage andutility bills.
To help residents overcome the daunting upfront costs, the city ofHenderson is developing a pilot program that would provide low-interest landscaping loans to homeowners.
The program began in September with $250,000 in funding, which thecity estimated would fund about 50 projects. Though the city expectedthe money to last for at least a year, it has already approved 46applications and the waiting list is growing.
"We're excited that we have so many people who are willing to do aturf conversion," Department of Utility Services spokeswoman KathleenRichards said.
The best way a homeowner can conserve water is to remove turf,Richards said. By removing just 400 square feet, roughly the size of atwo-car garage, Richards said, the amount of water conserved each yearis equivalent to four months of indoor use.
Though the city's present budget situation precludes the program fromreceiving additional funding, Richards said she is hopeful thatparticipants will use their Water Authority rebates — loan applicantsare required to be accepted into the Water Smart program first — topay off the loan quickly and allow the city to fund more projects.
The program could be expanded later if and when the timing is right,she said.
"As the economy picks up and the city's budget sees better days,that's definitely something we will consider," she said.
Through January, Bickmore said, the number of Water Smart applicationsthe Water Authority received was similar to 2006, before an increasein the rebate created a spike in applications. It's too early to telljust how much the economy could affect the program, he said.
"Obviously, the economy is going to affect us; there's no way aroundthat," Bickmore said. "But we won't really know how much until we getinto March."
To drum up interest in the program, the Water Authority is extendingfree classes it teaches at the Springs Preserve to other locationsaround the Las Vegas Valley. The class provides information about theprogram and free help with desert landscape design, and will be taughtat the Silver Springs Recreation Center in Henderson on Feb. 28 at2:30 p.m.
In addition to the turf conversion class, the Water Authority alsooffers free classes about indoor water conservation and dripirrigation systems.
Now is the time residents should be making plans, Bickmore said.
"If anybody is interested in doing any landscaping, especially turfconversion, now is the time to be thinking about it," he said.
February 14, 2009
The Ottawa Citizen
A gadget-lover's paradise
OK, so not all of these handy gadgets at the Orlando PGA merchandiseshow will help your game, but they'll give you something to talkabout, writes Gord Holder.
By Gord Holder, T
Quiet Please Golf Shirts, Socks and Tees
Insects love cotton, but hate bamboo, so using bamboo to make socks,shirts and tees means not having to use pesticides on the components,says Wendy Waters, vice-president of marketing and product design forTee Direct Inc. of Hamilton. "We are trying to save the world onesock, one polo (shirt) and one tee at a time." Bamboo, Waters adds, is"nature's cashmere," and it has natural SPF, but it won't capturebacteria, so bamboo garments never smell. Shirts ($90-$100, availableat pro shops) are 93 per cent bamboo and seven per cent Lycra, socks($10) are 85% bamboo, 10% nylon and 5% Spandex. Tees (100 per cent)bamboo are sold through distributors. Also available by calling1-800-334-5143.
Feb. 13, 2009
New software to standardise risk assessment of pesticide pollutionSource: European Commission, Environment DG
Researchers have developed a computer tool to help standardise riskassessment procedures for pesticides across Europe. The softwarecombines climate, soil and crops data specific to each location tohelp understand the potential impact of each pesticide used.
Pesticides used in farming can contaminate surface and ground watersthrough a number of means: runoff, infiltration and leaching, forexample, and can have a range of impacts depending on how they aredispersed. Extensive and harmonised data are needed to developappropriate policies which can avoid some of the effects of pesticidecontamination. The FOOTPRINT project, funded by the EU, has developeda number of different scenarios, 7961 in all, each representing aspecific type of agricultural area. For each scenario, a uniquecombination of weather patterns, soil characteristics and crop growthcharacteristics are specified. The specifications will determine whathappens to pesticides after they have been applied. So for example, auser of the FOOTPRINT service can find a scenario which matches anarea local to them and discover what the likely fate of a pesticidewill be in that area.
The software can be used at all levels, from the farm scale through tocatchment management and regional and European scales. The projectincludes information on routes of contamination by pesticides inagricultural landscapes and the likely concentrations of pesticidecontamination entering water bodies. It can be used to developprogrammes which reduce the impact of pesticide pollution.
To develop the FOOTPRINT software and characterise the 7961 uniquescenarios in Europe, the researchers:
* Divided Europe into 16 separate climatic zones. This wasachieved by studying climate data from 1961-1990 and identifying keyclimatic influences on pesticide pollution. * Characterised different types of agricultural land use inEurope, using EU statistical data on land use and crop data. * Periods of pesticide applications could be estimated byconsidering the growing conditions of the crops. * Defined different soil types in terms of their potential totransfer pesticides to surface waters
These scenarios should also be suitable to investigate other waterpollutants, such as nitrates and phosphorus. These can pollute wateras a result of similar climate, soil and cropping conditions in theagricultural landscape.
Further work is needed to develop more refined scenarios. For example,this study does not include intensive horticultural areas covered byglass or polythene. In addition, socio-economic factors can have aninfluence on the scenarios; different agricultural practices, such aslarge-scale mechanised or small-scale family farming, can play a rolein how pesticides are dispersed in the environment.
To access the FOOTPRINT software, please visit: www.eu-footprint.org/FOOT_tools.html
=======================Warning Industry Propaganda Below=======================
February 13, 2009
Rural communities bugged by upcoming pesticide restrictions
By Parvaneh Pessian
DURHAM -- Paul Pistritto is rolling up his sleeves and getting readyfor a day's worth of training -- a mandatory part of his livelihood.
The Pickering farmer will be taking the Grower Pesticide Safety Coursethis week to freshen up his skills on the latest techniques, research,rules and methods for the use of crop-protection products.
The Ontario government is planning on cracking down on the cosmeticuse of pesticides with a ban to be enacted this spring but initiativesaimed at educating growers and producers on utilizing pesticidesresponsibly have been around for years.
"As far as I'm concerned, pesticides are something farmers have torely on," Mr. Pistritto said, adding that their use plays a large roleon Pistritto's Farms and Greenhouses where a variety of vegetables,plants and other products have been grown for more than 40 years.
"I strongly believe they are a necessity but like anything else, haveto be used with caution."
Pesticides have come under heated debate in recent years with severalstudies showing a link between their use and serious illnessesincluding cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases.
The controversy prompted the provincial government to establish a banagainst the cosmetic use of pesticides including herbicides,insecticides and fungicides applied to private lawns, fruit trees andgardens.
The agricultural community is exempt from the prohibition but somefarmers are arguing the stigma being associated with pesticide use ingeneral has them cast in a negative light as well.
"The ban gives a connotation that pesticides may be unsafe foranything and not just for cosmetic purposes but even for thoserestrictions, I suspect that in some instances the science just isn'tthere," said Ted Watson of Watson Farms Limited in Bowmanville.
"I just wish the whole matter was handled differently so that if theywanted to reduce the use of pesticides, they would do it without allthe public fanfare. People will be saying, 'You can't spray your lawnsbut it's safe to spray your food?' without understanding thedifference."
The effects of a potential shift away from pesticide use could alsoprove to be detrimental for the economy as Ontario farmers' crops findit harder to compete in a global market, said Jerry Boychyn of BoychynFarms in Whitby.
"I like the idea that it's got to be handled by trained professionalsand there's a certification for it but at the same time, the processfor getting products registered can become so difficult that peoplejust won't do it," he said.
"We might ban pesticides here but I guarantee you that they won't bebanned in the rest of the world and all it does is make our economymore susceptible to downfall."
Coalition for Responsable Golf
The Coalition continues to take shape and gain popularity among Quebecgolf courses. As a member of the Coalition, the golf course has accessto a complete team of accredited agronomists, biologists and otherspecialists to help golf courses with the preparation and reporting oftheir pesticide reduction plans as requested and mandated by theQuebec government.
To become a member of the Coalition or to learn more about it and howit can help your facility, please visit their website : www.golfresponsable.org.
======================= Blog Gadgets
St. John's Daily Spray Advisory
My Past Articles
More enforcement needed for pesticide spray regulations
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 413 words
Karen Griffin - Judie Squires says someone needs to patrol the companies that spray residential areas for pesticides because she's observed nine violations of the Environmental Protection Act in her Paradise neighborhood alone…
Spray woes: Province falling down on monitoring pesticides
The Telegram (
Judie Squires - environment to become poisoned? A temporary ban on all residential pesticides has to be put into place, to protect us, our wildlife and our environment as a whole. Judie Squires
Government lax on cosmetic pesticide regulation: advocate
The Telegram (
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of
Woman doesn't expect cosmetic pesticide ban any time soon
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - 08-30-2004 - 712 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic that the province will ban the…
Province lagging behind in pesticide control
The Telegram (
Squires, Judie - it to do is to prohibit the cosmetic use of synthetic pesticides altogether in order to protect our citizens and the environment. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's…
The two sides to pesticide use
The Telegram (
Judie Squires - health of your families. When
Inquiry implicates BTk
The Telegram (
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - of trees. The live spores can be inhaled by humans and animals exposed to BT. Judie Squires, secretary of the Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, says despite claims that…
Delayed pesticide laws 'disappointing'
The Telegram (
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - at the end of this year. These products will only be sold to certified dealers. Judie Squires, secretary of the newly formed Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, isn't…
Above Articles available through Trancontinental Newsnet
Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
The Telegram (
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...