Friday, November 30, 2012

Pesticide Regulations in the News

This week the American Academy of Pediatricians published a report titled "Pesticide Exposure in Children". Which, unsurprisingly for pesticide-reduction advocates, found that pesticide exposure both from fields and lawns and from foods, is unhealthy for children.  Eileen Fitzgerald with the News Times wrote an article on Wednesday November, 28 connecting these findings to the importance of maintaining Connecticut's ban on pesticides in K-8 schools.  The article, titled "Urge state to keep school pesticide ban" outlines the findings of the AAP report and interviews one of Connecticut's forefront pesticide safety advocates, Nancy Alderman president of the organization  Environmental and Human Health, Inc.  based in New Haven.  The article also brings attention to an alarming letter sent to Connecticut's policy lawmakers from the Connecticut School Grounds Management Coalition urging them to weaken the pesticide ban.  

*Side note: One of the greatest proponents of pesticide regulation roll-back, and who is partically responsible for this letter, is a group named the Connecticut Environmental Council, which recently won a place on Toxics Action Committee's list of "The Dirty Dozen".  Read the "Dirty Dozen Report" and this post in the Courant Blog for more information!

Back to the AAP Report. It finds that: "Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Acute poisoning risks are clear, and understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems . . . Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in medical training, public health tracking, and regulatory action on pesticides."
The report warns about exposure to pesticides from the landscape, but also states that "diet may be the most influential source [of pesticides], as illustrated by an intervention study that placed children on an organic diet (produced without pesticide) and observed drastic and immediate decrease in urinary excretion or pesticide metabolites." 

This report is also illuminating, because it also explains how to read a pesticide label to prevent dangerous exposure for adults and children.  The very first "signal word" that identifies toxicity is a US Environmental Protection Agency registration number.  There has been a lot of confusion (mostly because of misinformation distributed by the pesticide industry) that EPA registration means a product is safe for the environment and for people, when really, the complete opposite is true.  

The last two lines of the Fitzgerald's article seem to make the choice clear: "With this new powerful report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it seems that parents would want to make sure the law stays in place as it is.  Perfect lawns and fields would be a poor substitute for healthy children."
Eileen FitzGerald: Urge state to keep school pesticide ban Read the AAP Report: Policy Statement: Pesticide Exposure in Children

If you are worried about these findings, and the ban, write to your state congressman and senator today reinforcing your support for Connecticut's pesticide ban.  If you would like to encourage more regulations in your town's parks and public lands, check out our website's page for towns: 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Registration is Open for the 2013 Accreditation Course

Registration is open for the Accreditation Course in Connecticut and in Pennsylvania!  This year we are having only one course in New England, in Norwich, CT.  Our second course will be in Philadelphia  PA bringing our program to the Mid-Atlantic States!

This year the course is four days long, but jam-packed with information!  We have adjusted the course based on the feedback from the first decade of accredited professionals.  The course is more condensed to save time for our attendees, the course content is focused on practical elements of organic land care, and the last day there will be two tracks of workshops allowing attendees to choose a horticulture or lawn-and-turf concentration.

The course is targeted at municipal, land care, farming, non-profit and environmental professionals who can benefit from a holistic education about the organic principles according to the thirteen year-old NOFA Standards in Organic Land Care incorporated as part of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement's International Family of Standards in 2011.

After taking the course, attendees can take the accreditation exam, which usually takes about an hour to complete.  A score of 70% or higher qualifies one for accreditation.  To learn more about the benefits of accreditation visit the About Accreditation page.  You can prep-pay for the accreditation exam and your accreditation when you register for the course.  There are now two levels of accreditation, the supporter level, mostly for non-profits and educators and the business level which provides marketing materials and collective advertising through out the Northeastern US.

Register for the February 11-14 Course in Connecticut now
Register for the January 14-17 Course in Pennsylvania now

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Successful OLC Business Workshop

On Friday, November 9, 2012, the NOFA Organic Land Care Program hosted its fourth advanced workshop, titled Business Essentials: Pricing and Marketing your Landscaping Services for Success. The half-day workshop was held at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in Rockfall, CT. Frank Crandall of Frank Crandall Horticultural Solutions in Wakefield, Rhode Island began the first presentation about pricing and estimating organic versus conventional lawn care services.

Frank started out by reviewing the fundamentals of profitable estimates, and then went on to compare the pricing of organic, transitional, and conventional lawn care programs over a three year period. Frank was able to show from the three year comparison that:
a transition program can convert to fully organic after the second year
an organic program can approach traditional lawn care in cost in the third year and
all phases of the organic plan can be profitable with comprehensive estimating

One of the biggest concerns many land care professionals and clients have about organic land care is the idea that it more costly and less profitable than traditional land care. Frank's presentation argued that this isn't always the case, as long as land care professionals provide accurate estimating, and make sure to sell organic as a comprehensive program rather than the organic version of a 4-step program. Frank emphasized discussing expectations with clients before signing an agreement, to ensure that clients understand the differences in methodology between organic and conventional management. He also noted that it's easier to finalize contracts with clients that request organic services rather than trying to convert traditional customers.
Read the rest of the article on our website

If you are interested in organic marketing and messaging for your business or organization, check out the 2012 Annual Gathering, "Success with the Organic Market"