Healthy Lawns for Healthy Families in Westford
Location: Westford Region
Project Manager: Elaine Major (2005-2006) and Jessica Cajigas (2007), Westford Water Department
Partners: Towns of Groton, Ayer, Boxborough, Acton, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dunstable, Littleton, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Weston, and Harvard. North Central Regional Solid Waste Cooperative of Groton and The Green Guy.
The purpose of the "Healthy Lawns for Healthy Families" project has been to:
- raise public awareness about human and pet health issues from pesticides,
- protect water resources,
- reduce pesticide use on a regional scale,
- provide safer lawn care alternatives, and
- involve local citizens in developing new town policies regarding pesticide use.
When this project began in 2005, participants included Water Department representatives from 5 of the neighboring towns of Acton, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, and Littleton; representatives from the Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group; Board of Health staff, business partners; and some concerned citizens. Each of the towns depends on groundwater for a drinking water resource. By 2007, the program had been expanded to include a total of 13 towns: Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Weston, and of course Westford. The North Central Regional Solid Waste Cooperative of Groton and The Green Guy had also become partners.
In it's first 2 years, the project successfully achieved its goals by disseminating information at local Board and Committee meetings; developing printed materials for distribution such as brochures, posters, flags, and lawn signs; running "Our Children at Risk" videos on local cable television stations; and partnering with local businesses to sponsor organic lawn care workshops. Brochures were mailed out with Water Department bills in some towns. Posters were displayed in unique locations like pediatrician offices, day care centers, and veterinarian clinics. A website was also developed (http://www.westford-ma.gov/Pages/Government/TownDepartments/WestfordMA_Water/healthylawnshealthyfamilies/) and worked well to disseminate information and provide residents with an up-to-date schedule of workshops and related activities. Of the participants surveyed at workshops or presentations, 97% hoped to reduce their pesticide use in the future. These results demonstrate that this is important information to get out to the public and, once received, citizens will work to change past practices in regards to pesticide use.
Surveys were passed out at most of the events to determine lawn care habits before and after the presentations. 97% of those surveyed expressed a wish to reduce their pesticide use in the future.
During 2007 continuing work included:
- distributing brochures and posters to more veterinarian clinics, pediatrician and medical offices, Board of Health offices, day care centers, and local nurseries;
- partnering with local nurseries to sponsor free organic lawn care workshops to the public;
- sponsoring two educational workshops for local landscape maintenance providers about the impacts of pesticides, safer alternatives, and applying compost teas;
- issuing press releases and updating the project website;
- providing turf management plans that outline organic lawn care steps by month so people can easily understand and implement new management practices;
- working to establish a committee of local citizens in each town with the goal of developing a pesticide policy and/or bylaw; and
- advertising the project by mass mailing brochures and/or including information in the bi-annual newsletters to each town as possible.
Westford hopes to continue this work, including a spring-time organic lawn care seminar offered to municipal lawn care specialists as well as private landscapers. Please check out the web site for the most current information on their continuing work.
This page updated Monday August 21 2017