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You are here: Home Arts & Entertainment Scarsdale Forum Recommends Organic Landscape Practices For All Village Properties
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Scarsdale Forum Recommends Organic Landscape Practices For All Village Properties

barefeetThe Scarsdale Forum Sustainability and Municipal Services Committees have released a joint report recommending that Scarsdale Village discontinue the use of toxic chemicals on all village properties and adopt an official organic landscape management policy. This supports the committees' finding that the use of toxic pesticides in our landscape can lead to significant, harmful health and environmental consequences.

For many years, the Village of Scarsdale has maintained an organic program for most of its properties; the committees recommend that these practices now should be extended to the few remaining locations where toxic chemicals continue to be used. These chemicals may include insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers.

Committee members learned that, since 2009, Scarsdale has, at times, worked with Osborne Organics, which specializes in organic landscape management, to provide customized programs for village properties. While village staff and landscaping contractors largely have implemented these programs, they occasionally have applied certain hazardous chemicals in localized areas. One notable example is the Scarsdale pool complex, where such chemicals are used to treat flowering clover to discourage bees. When using the pool facility, many residents, particularly children, touch grass with bare feet and hands, increasing their exposure to these substances. In their report, committee members endorse a non-toxic method to eradicate clover and suggest organic alternatives to harmful chemicals used elsewhere.

Specifically, the report states that:

The use of toxic chemicals at the pool complex and any other village properties should be discontinued; and
The elimination of this practice should be codified, along with a requirement to implement organic landscape management practices on all village properties.

According to Municipal Services Committee Chair Madelaine Eppenstein, "Scarsdale is fortunate that, over the years, current and prior park superintendents and staff have understood the importance and effectiveness of organic landscape management. Thanks to them, public properties have thrived. It is now time to codify this practice villagewide to further ensure the health and safety of our residents, pets, wildlife and environment."

The report also recommends that Scarsdale should encourage residents to learn more about organic landscaping practices and promote more sustainable options for residential properties. "The toxic products that many residents and their landscapers apply to their individual properties affect neighbors, local wildlife and local waterways," said Michelle Sterling, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee. "The village should encourage the use of organic landscape management as a benefit to the entire community."nopesticides

Darlene LeFrancois-Haber, Sustainability Committee co-chair, said, “I think it’s important to note, and for residents to understand, that aside from behavioral issues children are at increased risk of pesticide-induced harms based on physiologic and body size issues. Specifically children’s’ cells are turning over faster (they are growing!) and therefore more susceptible to the “hit” of toxins which may translate into downstream harms; and also, relative to their weight, they breathe and drink and eat more thereby increasing the concentration of these toxins when controlled for outdoor exposure time. And same argument, amplified, goes for fetuses. Unfortunately exposure to these pesticides is happening to all of us, pesticides are carried into our homes and remain active there for months, unable to be broken down by sunlight, rain, etc.. We don’t see it, but these toxins are measurable in our bodies, and over 750 studies have been compiled documenting harms of these pesticides that have then been the basis for guideline and consensus reports, recommendations statements, and reviews, including a 2012 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The basis for harm, is well captured I think in this quote: “Pesticides can cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise affect living organisms.” Environmental Protection Agency.

A copy of the full report is available here.

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