For decades, we have been told by chemical-based fertilizer and lawnmower companies (via TV commercials) that our front and back yards should look like golf courses, which we now know is about as unnatural as it gets. Essentially, we have been growing lifeless plots, which are not only unhealthy for the environment, they are unhealthy for people and pets.
Unfortunately, getting the message out to homeowners is not easy. In the meantime, the lawn fertilizer commercials will keep being aired, the garden crews will keep spraying, and the chemical companies will continue to issue coupons for harmful Roundup products (weed and grass killer currently owned by Bayer). It’s a constant bombardment of one-sided information from chemical companies, designed to pressure people into purchasing more and more products.
As a way to get people onboard with the elimination of pesticides, in lieu of natural and organic lawn and garden care, The Erie County Environmental Management Council (EMC) and the Erie County branch of Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered with the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (ECDEP) to launch the “Name the Gnome Contest.” The gnome in question is a four-foot tall gnome statue – the mascot for the Home for the Gnomes Healthy Lawns Campaign – who will be traveling throughout the county to spread awareness of the harmful nature of using insecticides, herbicides (including weed-killers and “weed and feed” products), fungicides, and other chemical pesticides. After all, the home of a gnome should be chemical free.
Collectively, residents’ take care of approximately 122 square miles, or 78,000 acres, of lawn in Erie County, with their lawn chemical usage on average adding up to approximately 3 pounds per acre, or 234,000 pounds, of lawn chemicals per year.
During his travels, this (currently) nameless gnome will be visiting parks, schools, libraries, gardens, and festivals, to share lessons on how to properly take care of their yards, without relying on harmful chemicals.
“We can’t have a nameless gnome,” said DEP Commissioner Thomas Hersey. “We look forward to having fun as we name the gnome. Our EMC and the Cornell Cooperative Extension have been working hard on this effort and we are hoping this fun activity will increase the visibility of this important initiative.”
Naming contestants will be encouraged to take a pledge that they will care for their lawns the way that Mother Nature intended. Each contestant will receive a lawn sign that proudly signals that their yards are healthy and safe.
Make your lawn a pesticide-free safe home for the gnomes!
It’s due time that we respect our surroundings, starting with our own homes. The best and easiest way that we can do that is to take care of our outdoor spaces, and to stop spreading harmful chemicals into the environment.
Remember the old saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you?” Well, in this case the exact opposite is true. When we poison our yards, we poison everyone and everything that comes into contact with them.
Besides the gnome name, contest participants are asked to include their name, address, phone number, and the name of the school they attended (if applicable.) The contest is open to all Erie County residents. Multiple entries can be submitted. The winner of the contest will be revealed next month, with the contest winner receiving recognition for their clever word play with a thank you gift and a photograph with the gnome.
For more information:
On the Erie County Healthy Lawns Initiative, visit www.erie.gov/healthylawns
“Home for the Gnomes” name and graphics created by Daemen College Graphic Design students.