Under the leadership of Roderick Simmons, the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department has been moving away from synthetic chemicals for pest management and fertilization to completely organic landscape management during the past two years.
On August 10 after spending all day training Asheville Parks and Recreation staff in organic lawn care methods, Chip Osborne, president of Osborne Organics, and Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, led a 2+ hour public workshop at Lenoir Rhyne University's Center for Graduate Studies. The workshop was sponsored by Beyond Pesticides, the City of Asheville, Toxic Free NC, Bee City USA, and the Asheville Alternative to Pesticides Coalition.
About 50 people, many of them from the plant retailer or landscaping industry, attended the very informative workshop where Feldman summarized the origins of our national pesticide treadmill and Osborne explained working WITH nature and soil biology to maintain healthy turf lawns.
Cities maintain large expanses of turf lawns in public parks and athletic fields. As the inaugural affiliate of Bee City USA, the City of Asheville was selected by Beyond Pesticides and Osborne Organics to not only engage in this training, but also to test the methodology at three city-owned sites: Martin Luther KIng Park, Pack Square Park, and a new community garden. They have tested soil samples from each location and designed a management strategy in response. This coming year they will collaborate on implementing the plan.
The Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs encourage affiliates to practice organic, "least toxic," integrated pest management as espoused by Osborne Organics and Beyond Pesticides. It was encouraging to hear Chip Osborne support reducing lawns and expanding flower beds generally for the health of pollinators and other wildlife, and explain that including clover in lawns is good for soil, since clover is "nitrogen-fixing." Indeed, until the 1950's, grass seed mixes included clover!
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA coordinator and Xerces Society.