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Community Uproar Turns Back Pesticide Threat Near Chicago

Anyone concerned with pesticide spraying should take note: PROTESTS DO WORK.

For further evidence, turn to Highland Park, Ill., where 25 emails and 600-plus signatures on a petition caught the attention of local officials who ultimately delayed a plan to spray public parks with synthetic weed killers: http://highlandpark.suntimes.com/news/7810266-418/park-district-backs-off-pesticide-use.html.

The issue in the community was that, after voting to go “organic” on the parks three years ago, the fields started producing more dandelions and other “weeds” than folks wanted to see. The only alternative, the leaders concluded, was to resort to pesticides. The planned reversion was trumpeted internationally as a rare victory for the chemical industry in this anti-pesticide movement that is sweeping North America.

The shills for the chemical industry say, “See, organics doesn’t work.”

The real answer, always, is that the local folks probably don’t know how organics work. You can’t just dump on organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer, do nothing else, and expect weeds NOT to grow. The presence of weeds indicates that the soil wants to grow weeds and should tell the grounds crew that additional soil amendments are needed to help keep the population under control.

It’s simple, in other words . . . but it’s not. Organic landscape control does require some thinking, some evaluation and, in some cases, some work. Some municipalities I’ve seen even with limited budgets even have community weed-pulling days, either for lawn weeds or for tougher exotic invasive weeds that are filling our roadsides across North America.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of solutions for dealing with weeds without the toxins.

Congratulations to Highland Park for taking the right first step.

Folks there have called us to say the organic battle has certainly not been won, but with this kind of resolve human and environmental safety at least has a fighting chance of succeeding.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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