In cooperation with the Elmhurst Park District (EPD) and Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition, Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC) and its Midwest Grows Green (MGG) initiative succeeded again in creating safer and healthier outdoor spaces for children, pets, and wildlife, this time by establishing a test site for pesticide-free lawn maintenance at the 2.9 acre Van Voorst Park.
“As a result of discussions with Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition (ECCC) and the Midwest Pesticide Action Center, and our desire to be responsive to resident ideas and concerns, the Elmhurst Park District has selected Van Voorst Park as a pesticide free park site,” states Jim Rogers, Executive Director for the Elmhurst Park District.
The EPD will move away from all pesticide applications at the site, which is adjacent to Jefferson Elementary School, and manage weed and pest problems with cultural and mechanical controls. MPAC recommended natural lawn care controls include mowing at higher heights (3 inches), aerating, overseeding, and physical weed removal.
“Testing a pesticide-free surface near Jefferson Elementary Schools should bring piece-of-mind to parents and caregivers who worry about the health hazards linked to lawn pesticides and herbicides,” said Lisa Gerhold, Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition Chair. “Our children are the most vulnerable to the potential dangers of toxic pesticide exposure as their bodies and immune systems develop.”
Elmhurst Cool Cities has pursued a pesticide-free park since November of last year and partnered with MPAC on the Midwest Grows Green “Keep ON the Grass” pledge campaign to educated the Elmhurst community about natural lawn care practices.
“Cool Cities encourages residents to follow in the footsteps of the park district by taking the pledge to go pesticide-free on their own lawns and gardens,” said Gerhold. “It only takes a minute to sign the pledge and by doing so, you are committing to reduce the negative health effects pesticides have on humans, pets, and wildlife.”
Since the middle of March, Cool Cities and MPAC have built strong community support with residents committed to eliminating synthetic chemical use on their own lawns and gardens and at all locations where we live, learn, and play. Adding this pesticide-free park elevates the importance of the MGG movement in Elmhurst, and assists Cool Cities as it strives to educate citizens on the health and environmental importance of natural lawn care practices and achieve more pesticide-free outdoor spaces.
“In many of the communities MPAC works with, we know there is community interest in pesticide-free outdoor spaces, they just lack a microphone to express that interest,” said Ryan Anderson, program and communications manager at MPAC. “The MGG pledge campaign provides that microphone and each new pesticide free park and MGG pledge increases that microphone’s spread and impact in our communities.”
The movement in Elmhurst (and the greater Midwest) needs your support. Taking the pledge at bit.ly/MGGpledge strengthens MPAC’s partnerships and collaborations with park districts, local community outreach organizations, and individuals as we work to achieve full-scale lawn maintenance behavior change in Elmhurst and Midwest-wide.