Pesticide free Salt Lake City

By Adelina Whitten

Salt Lake City explores and encourages organic methods for yard care

Healthy lawns and weed-free gardens are a primary goal for many householders. However, these desires are often followed closely behind by chemical pesticides and fertilizers. While they get the job done, it’s not without adverse effects. Exposure to certain chemicals can harm humans, animals and pollinating insects. Pesticide-Free SLC aims to reduce chemical use in Salt Lake City by encouraging the use of organic land care and maintenance methods instead.

The program is a result of Salt Lake City’s 2016 partnership with Healthy Babies, Bright Futures, which seeks to eliminate children’s exposure to neurotoxic chemicals.
The city’s Sustainability Department and Beyond Pesticides, A Washingont, D.C.-based nonprofit, have partnered to create a Pesticide-Free resource guide for public use, including tips and pest management alternatives.

Salt Lake City has been testing such methods at Laird (1200 S 1800 E) and Madsen (9 N 940 W) parks since 2017, building on practices already used by the Parks Division. Salt Lake plans to convert more City properties to pesticide-free zones, including the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC). When transitioned, it would be the first sports complex in the nation with professional-grade fields being maintained through organic practices.
On April 13, Mayor Jackie Biskupski received a donation of $5,000 from Stonyfield Organic in support of Salt Lake City’s Pesticide-Free campaign. An additional $40,000 was pledged by the company to take care of expenses when implementing organic land care maintenance methods. The money will be used to convert two fields at the RAC to organic care.
In addition to lawn care, the transition will involve plant identification, soil testing and planting approproiate grass types. Consultants for the transition are Osborne Organics and Beyond Pesticides.

The city is making moves, but Salt Lake inhabitants can make them, too. Residents are encouraged to explore cost-effective organic land maintenance methods online and take the Pesticide-Free pledge to receive a free yard sign. The movement is growing. Last year, SLCgreen distributed over 300 signs to Salt Lake residents.
Take the pledge and proudly place the buzzing bees on your lawn. Then celebrate pollinators at CATALYST’s 9th Annual Bee Fest on June 15 at Green Team Farm.

— Adelina Whitten
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This article was originally published on April 29, 2019.