For years, Steve Phillips of Heidelberg Farms, which is accredited as a certified organic lawn care service provider, has worked to educate people regarding the harm that results from the use of pesticides and chemicals. More recently, he has begun to expand and publicize his outreach efforts, which has resulted in an informal partnership with Non Toxic Dover.
Founded in 2013 by Dover resident Diana Carpinone, Non Toxic Dover seeks to help the City of Dover implement safer land management practices. To date, the grassroots organization has helped the city achieve several large initiatives, one of which includes the elimination of neonicotinoids, a bee killing insecticide. She said their advocacy also resulted in the city creating organic pilot sites at lower Henry Law Park and Sullivan Drive Ballfield.
“Currently, we are advocating for expansion of the sites and a comprehensive organic land management policy for both the city and Dover’s school system,” she said. “I’m very thankful at how receptive the city has been to our efforts.”
Expressing appreciation for the success Carpinone has achieved through Non Toxic Dover, Phillips said her work highlights his own, which is based on soil science. He said his organic lawn care management programs seek to replicate natural, well-functioning ecosystems.
“I always ask two questions to start—where did the plant you want to grow come from and what partnerships has that plant developed with beneficial organisms in its natural growing environment?” he said. “I look to lessen soil compaction and increase the organic content in soil by mostly repopulating and helping the soil-plant partners thrive.”
Noting he has begun to implement one of his organic lawn care programs at Carpinone’s home, he said the need for greater awareness of the biology of the soil is critical.
“We have used so many harmful chemicals and bad cultural practices that most soil is no longer able to support life,” he said. “Pesticides are far more toxic and persistent in the environment than most people are aware.”
Carpinone agrees and said she is thankful that Phillips has assumed an advisory role to her organization. She said she has also been able to see firsthand that his programs works.
“The lawn looks a lot better this year than it did last year,” she said. “I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made so far with his help.”
In spreading the word about Non Toxic Dover, Phillips said he believes he is helping to lay the groundwork for anyone in the organic industry.
“We are not talking about pseudo-science,” he said. “As a society, we are growing plants with chemistry—not biology. It is not sustainable.”
He said the answer is not difficult to find either.
“If we look at native plant communities, they are teeming with life,” he said. “Through mimicking nature, we can move our landscape to a sustainable and healthy condition.”
He cited the advocacy efforts of Non Toxic Dover as instrumental.
“What Non Toxic Dover is doing is important, because they are opening up a much needed community dialogue,” he said. “We are not talking about business—we are talking about the health of the planet.”
To learn more about Non Toxic Dover, visit www.nontoxicdovernh.wordpress.com.