On Thursday, Sept.10, Councilwoman Cindy Bass proposed legislation to introduce citywide organic land management, weeks after an organic land pilot program launched for Vernon and Fernhill Parks.
In mid August Councilwoman Bass announced she was teaming up with Nontoxic Neighborhoods and Stonyfield Organic for a Toxic Free Philly initiative to convert public parks and playing fields to organic grounds management, free from synthetic pesticides. Since the announcement, Vernon and Fernhill park are pesticide free according to Kim Konte, Nontoxic Neighborhoods representative. Konte was excited and surprised to see the proposal for citywide legislation.
“Our goal is to have all city space, outdoor space, parks, [pesticide free], especially where the kids are coming in contact with the turf and dirt.” Konte said.
According to Nontoxic Neighborhoods, pesticides are strongly linked to children; mostly showing up in health conditions like asthma and birth defects and developmental disabilities in children
The $35,000 grant funded pilot program by Stonyfield and The Giant Company for Germantown parks was launched after a Stonyfield survey. They found 65% of playing fields across the U.S. use harmful pesticides. And according to a second Stonyfield survey, 90% of Philly’s residents utilize outdoor space. Konte said this is why it’s important to use the safest possible products.
If the proposed legislation passes, the use of toxic herbicides will be prohibited in outdoor spaces including parks, trails, recreation centers, and playgrounds. Konte said once the legislation passes, Nontoxic will extend their work from Germantown to other outdoor areas.
While the citywide legislation is under review, Vernon and Fernhill Park staff will receive training in organic land management.