NOFA/Mass Receives $15,000 Grant to Educate Homeowners about Organic Lawn Care

Homeowners from throughout Massachusetts will have the opportunity to learn organic lawn care methods at hands-on workshops in April 2011, thanks to a generous $15,000 grant NOFA/Mass received from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
    NOFA/Mass will host a series of 12 organic lawn care workshops during the first-ever “Statewide Organic Lawn Days” next spring, in an effort to provide practical methods and organic lawn care education to homeowners.
The workshops will be taught and facilitated by NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals at locations throughout the state, including at the NOFA/Mass Organic Lawn Demonstration Project sites at Sandy Pond Recreation Area in Ayer and on the Stoneham Town Common’s center circle.
    This project’s long term goal is to reduce pesticide use and exposure in Massachusetts by increasing the number of acres of land cared for with organic methods. It is estimated that U.S. homeowners apply over 90 million pounds of herbicides to lawns and gardens per year; and that lawn chemical runoff has resulted in a widespread presence of pesticides in streams and groundwater, according to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides.
Growing public awareness of pesticide use hazards and new legislation mandating least toxic and non-toxic alternatives are fueling homeowners’ concern regarding applying synthetic chemicals.
“Expanding our educational and outreach efforts to homeowners in a focused way will help decrease pesticide use and exposure over the long term, while helping to beautify lawns, avoid groundwater pollution and improve air quality,” said NOFA/Mass Organic Land Care Program Coordinator Kathy Litchfield.
This TURI grant follows up on three previous TURI grants: two (totaling $2,000) funded municipal scholarships to the NOFA Organic Lawn and Turf Course; and one this past spring (for $10,000) which funded the implementation of the two NOFA/Mass Organic Lawn Demonstration Projects.  
“TURI is happy to be able to provide funding for this NOFA/Mass project as they take their message about the benefits of organic lawn care to a larger audience state-wide.  Many individual homeowners, communities and municipalities have shown that a beautiful organic lawn is easily obtained, now it’s time for everyone to make the change to protect our health and resources,” said Joy Onasch, TURI’s Community Program Manager.
    “We are so excited to be able to offer this education to homeowners, thanks to TURI,” said Litchfield. “We’ve educated over 1,000 landscape professionals in Massachusetts over the last decade and see this as the next logical step in transforming the landscapes where we all live, play and recreate. With this grant, we’ll be able to pilot the workshops this year and hopefully continue the program for years to come.”
    The NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals who will teach the workshops include Javier Gil of Newburyport, Finbarr Phelan of Barnstable, A. Navid Hatfield of Amherst, Bernadette Giblin of Northampton, Rich Lassor of Monterey, Frank Koll of Arlington, Curtis Dragon of Salem, Michael Murray of Woburn (Stoneham project) and John Coppinger of No. Chelmsford (Ayer project). Additional professionals will lead workshops on Nantucket, the Worcester area and the South Shore region.
    We are also grateful to the support of our grant partners, who will help publicize the workshops and distribute literature and information about organic lawn care throughout their constituencies: the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition, the Ecological Landscaping Association, the Nantucket Land Council, GreenCAPE (Cape Alliance for Pesticide Education), the Nashua River Watershed Association, People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment (PACE) and the Stoneham Environmental Action Committee, as well as the towns of Ayer and Stoneham, who have committed to maintaining their Organic Lawn Demonstration Projects through at least June of 2013.
The TURI Community Program supports the work of many organizations, by providing grants, education, training and outreach on toxic use reduction methods and alternatives and resources to assist communities and individuals to reduce toxics. For more info on TURI, visit www.turi.org or contact Joy Onasch at (978) 934-4343 or joy@turi.org. To apply for a grant, visit: www.turi.org/community/grants.     
    For more information, contact Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830 or email Kathy@nofamass.org.