Just across Long Island Sound, there is a community where residents, pets and visitors enjoy the outdoors, safe in the knowledge that the public open spaces where they walk, play and rest are healthy and free of harmful pesticides.
The Village of East Hampton adopted a policy in 2002 requiring organic maintenance of public parks, greens, and lawns. Specifically, the official policy states that the "use of pesticides/herbicides are prohibited on village owned property." According to a Village statement, the rationale behind the policy is simple: "We believe this helps to protect public health and reduces potential impacts on ground and surface waters."
A recent conversation with Edwina von Gal of The Perfect Earth Project in East Hampton highlights how the success of the Village policy is dependent on community support that includes residents, landscapers and policy makers. PEP promotes toxin-free landscaping on municipal and residential property, but von Gal stresses that they are not activists. Instead they strive to "change attitudes."
Indeed, PEP's goal is to "raise consciousness about the dangers of synthetic, toxic, lawn and garden chemicals to humans and the environment, and educate homeowners and professionals in nature-based techniques that provide beautiful, safe results."
Ultimately, the objective is to create "a future when it can be taken for granted that land is managed without toxins and is safe for people, pets and the environment ... "
In East Hampton, the Village is taking the lead in setting a positive example. Recently, PEP's "Leif" signs have popped up next to Village Hall, indicating a sign of support and commitment by the Village for pesticide-free land management.
PEP provided us with some visual examples of how beautiful a naturally maintained landscape can be and they are reproduced here.