Takoma Park made news last summer when it became the first town in the U.S. to ban lawn pesticides on not just public but also private property. As a garden writer with a particular interest in lawns, I jumped on the story for the national blog GardenRant and shopped it around to newspaper reporters. (One at the New York Times loves the story and we’re waiting to find out if her editor agrees).
I interviewed the prime movers behind the new law, Julie Taddeo and Catherine Cummings, and found out about a Greenbelt connection in the story. Greenbelt is one of the few jurisdiction in the country that bans harmful lawn pesticides on public property, and Greenbelt is even cited in the law as enacted, in one of several “whereas” clauses.
WHEREAS, most provinces in Canada have banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals, and subsequent studies show a dramatic increase in stream health, Washington DC has enacted the Pesticide Education and Control Amendment Act of 2012, and Greenbelt, MD, strictly prohibits the use of synthetic chemical pesticides on all city‐owned land with its Sustainable Land Care Policy of 2011.
Plus, the authors of Takoma’s new law borrowed heavily from Greenbelt’s aforementioned Sustainable Land Care Policy, and its author, Leslie Riddle, formerly our Public Works director, was credited with giving the Takoma activists still more help. I told Julie and Catherine that Leslie has moved on to Hyattsville, and they’ll be following up to see if the anti-pesticide movement might spread there next.
Some Greenbelters have asked me about another garden-related law in Takoma Park – the one banning leaf-blowers, but only on public property. I’ve written about leaf-blowers several times and noticed a general consensus among readers across the continent – that on large pieces of land, especially public lands, there’s some justification for their use, especially when there are no nearby neighbors being adversely affected by the noise and pollution. The consensus regarding private property is much more in favor of leaf-blowers being banned, as they have been in many places already, especially in in California, where people spend a lot of time in their yards.
So I was curious about Takoma’s law taking the opposite approach, and with some digging learned that the proponents simply didn’t think the law would pass if it affected homeowners. In their own words, they caved. And the city’s parks crew have lots of complaints about the effect on their jobs.