Organic Land Care is the foundation for healthy people, plants & planet.
Toxic Free Wilmington is on a mission to make sense of pesticide use in Wilmington, New Hanover County, and the Southeastern North Carolina region.
Our current land management programs lack transparency and are chemically-intensive, relying on synthetic products to perpetually treat symptoms over time, and have adverse effects on human health, the environment, and the overall health of the soil.
Considering the multiple lawsuits and appeals that have now been lost due to the negative health impacts of synthetic pesticides, the City is potentially exposed to significant liability, which deserves greater scrutiny. For example, glyphosate, the active ingredient involved in many of the recent lawsuits, is water-soluble and, in addition to being used routinely in City protocols, is used extensively in the agricultural regions surrounding the Wilmington area, and is now being found in 75% of air and rain samples and 93% or urine samples.
We have a choice. The organic protocols being proposed are not an effort to “ban pesticides”, nor are they a product substitution program, they are a fundamental shift in land care practices that relies on the integration of natural process with proper cultural practices to improve the quality and performance of the soil and plants through implementation of a strategy that proactively solves problems by supporting healthy people, plants, and planet.
There is now widespread consensus in the scientific community that pesticides are having a devastating effect on the sustainability of pollinator populations, the health of our pets, and on human health. In fact, studies have shown dogs have a 70% higher risk of canine lymphoma cancer after herbicide-treated lawn exposure than dogs not exposed (6). And the scientific literature documents elevated rates of chronic diseases among people exposed to pesticides, with increasing numbers of studies associated with both specific illnesses and a range of illnesses.
Organic land care methods grow soil, not just plants. They view the work of land care through the lens of an ecosystem, or, a forest, not just the trees.
As it is with any ecosystem, the key to a successful land care is how everything works together. When we take a systems-thinking approach, it limits externalities and comes with a diversity of residual benefits that help address many of the big challenges we face as a City, County, and Region.
A commitment to an organic land care approach, focused on supporting soil health, will improve the quality of the plants and trees that grow in Wilmington.
It will improve public health and the quality of life of Wilmington-area citizens through the reduction of artificial fertilizers and synthetic pesticides in our air, land, and water.
It will measurably increase the sequestering of carbon in the soil that can help the City of Wilmington offset emissions and hit clean energy goals.
And it will allow the pursuit of reckoning in our regional waste stream management by encouraging the use and creation of high quality compost, and the further allocation of the valuable material we put into an expensive hole that is going to run out in 30-50 years. Further, the City of Wilmington spends $1.4 million annually to throw away trash at the New Hanover County landfill, with up to half of the waste stream having the capacity to be turned into biochar or compost. We can take the same systems-thinking approach to the rest of our waste stream channels.
A commitment to diverting organic waste from the landfill can save money and turn the organic matter into a valuable asset that can, not only pay for itself and further improve plant performance, but help mitigate City stormwater challenges by improving the soils capacity to hold water.
According to the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), an increase of only 1% in soil organic matter holds 25,000 gallons of water, which can be accomplished with as little as a single 1/4” application of compost.
It has never been more important to make sense of our land care practices. A new nationwide survey from Stonyfield Organic finds that 85% of Americans have sought sanctuary in the great outdoors during COVID-19, with 52% of respondents saying a daily walk outside kept them “sane” and 50% frequently spent time in their yard or a public park, and 43% of respondents said they now appreciate the outdoors “more than ever”. The escape to the great outdoors also applied to the country’s four-legged friends with 64% of respondents saying they took more walks with their dogs during quarantine.
Given the growing interest from the public to spend more time outside, and the growing awareness of the danger posed by the indiscriminate use of artificial fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, we are proposing a full public review and report on our land care practices, how they are working, and the impact that they are having on human and environmental health.
If you would like to get involved with the effort of bringing organic land care to the Southeastern North Carolina region, please get in touch.
And please "Like" our Facebook Page.
Little things matter. Watch this 7 minute video that outlines the danger some of the chemicals we are currently using in parks and on ball fields in our region have on brain development.