To create a broad-based coalition of non- and for-profit organizations committed to educating society about the benefits of environmentally responsible lawn care and gardening, and effect a quantum change in consumer and industry behavior.
In the spring of 2006, with water quality, chemical exposure and global warming emerging as mainstream issues, Paul Tukey, author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual, contacted a group of motivated and qualified professionals from the for-profit and non-profit sectors to try and figure out how to take organic turf care and grounds maintenance in the United States to the next level.
Sixteen people gathered together at the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm in Alexandria, Va., the following in July to help work out the vision that would become SafeLawns.org, and in the past six years, SafeLawns has touched literally millions through the Internet, print and broadcast media, and face to face contact at green industry shows, conferences and garden club meetings across America.
Other highlights have included a four-acre organic makeover on the National Mall, the production of more than 20 award-winning How-to-Videos about organic lawn care, and the production of a full-length feature documentary about the origin of the anti-lawn pesticide movement, titled A Chemical Reaction. The ultimate highlight has been the passage of anti-pesticide legislation across Canada and now the United States.
Funding for the organization comes from private and corporate memberships and donations, foundation grants, and from Paul Tukey’s honoraria for public speaking, educational seminars and consulting.
An international leader of the green movement, Paul Tukey began his journey toward environmental advocacy during summers spent growing vegetables at his grandparents’ dairy farm in Bradford in the 1960s. After graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in Journalism, Paul spent nearly a decade as a reporter and editor at the Maine Sunday Telegram and Portland Press Herald.
In the late 1980s Paul followed his love of the outdoors and founded his own landscaping company, Tukeys Home n Land. Like most commercial landscapers of the era, Paul used conventional techniques and supplies.
But in the early 1990s Paul started hearing about the links between 2,4-D, a synthetic weed killer, and numerous illnesses including cancer. Then his personal physician suggested that his recurrent headaches, nosebleeds and blurred vision were attributable to exposure to those same chemical weed killers. His transformation to organic gardening and building healthy soil was underway. In the past seven years, he has emerged as the leader of the SafeLawns movement across the U.S. and Canada.
Paul now resides in Rhode Island with his wife, Katie Hoffmann Tukey, and youngest children, Aimee, 5, and Angie, 3.
Pauls oldest daughter, Christina, 27, graduated from Williams College and is currently a fourth-year medical student. Paul’s son, Paul Jr., 19, follows in the family business as a professional landscaper.