Lawns’ll Be “Greener” In Branford

by Marcia Chambers | February 23, 2009 10:41 AM | | Comments (5)

In a unanimous decision, the Board of Selectmen last week adopted a resolution asking town residents to voluntarily give up pesticides and chemical fertilizers in favor of organic care for their lawns.

In what many say is a major environmental step, the board asked residents to do what the town is already doing at the Green and at its parks and ballfields: Use organic products for various turfs.

In an interview, Dr. Jerry Silbert of Watershed Partnership Inc., said that Branford joins Milford, Plainfield and Greenwich in asking residents to make the switch. Cheshire is in the process, he said, and he is working with Guilford and Madison. The Guilford Green is now organically cared for.

Lawn pesticides are known to contaminate groundwater and wells. The resolution says that state and federal registration of pesticides is no guarantee of safety. Lawn and garden fertilizers contribute 11 percent of the nitrates found in the storm drains and these runoffs increase the nitrate into the waters of Long Island Sound, contributing the death of lobsters, other fish and plant life.

The decision to ask residents to voluntarily change the way they care for their lawns — and there are thousands of lawns in Branford — follows earlier town decisions to go organic at town parks and ball fields.

Alex Palluzzi, Jr., Branford’s parks and recreation director for the last 16 years,
smiles when he recalls the transition because he first had to turn himself around. “I was on the other side,” he said. “But I listened to the experts, including Dr. Silbert and I did a 360 degree turn.”

It took a few years, some trial and error events, a number of transition products, the use of composted leaves combined with poultry manure, before the results were clear. The town no longer has to use pesticides and commercial synthetic fertilizers to produce sturdy municipal fields that get repeated use.

When he first changed gears, the association he then headed, The Connecticut Recreation and Park Association “was not happy with me. But they are changing and are coming around to our side,” he told the Eagle.

DSC00623.JPGSilbert and Palluzzi (pictured) have been the leading advocates in the organic lawn care movement. In recent years Dick Sullivan, the former second selectman, pressed for changes on the government front. Dan Cosgrove, the former Boss of Branford, was also instrumental. He owns large parcels of property. He convinced Palluzzi in the mid-1990s to mulch leaves on town property instead of taking them to the transfer station. To get that done, Cosgrove donated the mulching equipment.

Silbert said the Watershed, founded in 1994, has been able to do its important work because of funding from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the Quinnipiac River Fund. The organization’s primary mission is to eliminate toxic lawn pesticides. He said 19 of the 30 commonly used lawn pesticides have been linked to some form of cancer and birth and other defects. Children are especially susceptible, he said. Connecticut law now bans the use of pesticides at public schools.

“Every park in town has either passive or active organic care. “It is cheaper. It is safer and it is what residents should now do for their own lawns,” Palluzzi said after the meeting he and Silbert attended.

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Posted by: Chris | February 23, 2009 7:03 PM

Save yourself from yourself - reduce your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals such as those used in dry cleaning. Get clean and green yourself first then everything else is easy-

Posted by: fedupwithliberals | February 25, 2009 7:52 AM

"in a unanimous decision, the Board of Selectmen last week adopted a resolution asking town residents to voluntarily give up pesticides and chemical fertilizers in favor of organic care for their lawns."

You gotta be kiddin! You should be happy if New Haven homeowners cared enough about their lawns to at least cut them more than once a month let alone fertilize!

Posted by: Mary | February 28, 2009 3:10 PM

I think this is a wonderful idea. I hope Parkss & Rec will consider holding workshops to help us learn more about how to implement this and what the best products to use are. I have pets and have not used chemicals in my yard, but the lawn is pretty scraggly (aside from the weeds) although it does have a large earthworm population.

Posted by: FEDUPWITHLIBERALS | March 11, 2009 1:13 PM

Who cares about groundwater or "the health of the sound" let our kids worry about it.

Posted by: Hope | March 22, 2009 4:24 PM

" I did a 360 degree turn." That's funny

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