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NY State Launches ‘Be Green Organic Yards’ Program

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2010) Residents of New York now have new assistance in maintaining beautiful, green lawns, plants and trees without the use of toxic chemicals. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has initiated the ‘Be Green Organic Yard NY” program, where participating ‘Be Green’ businesses agree to avoid synthetic pesticides and other materials prohibited by the organic ‘Be Green’ standard.

‘Be Green’ landscape services utilize an organic approach focusing on preventing problems before they occur, and building a sustainable landscape that is healthy for all -plants, wildlife, pets, and people. Services can range from a simple regimen of weeding, mulching and pruning, to all aspects of yard care, including plant selection and tree and lawn installation and maintenance. DEC expects that, by the fall of 2010, yard care businesses will be able to begin taking the training required to participate in ‘Be Green’. ‘Be Green’ businesses sign an agreement with DEC for the right to use the ‘Be Green’ service mark (logo). In return, businesses agree that, when they provide ‘Be Green’ services, they will avoid the synthetic pesticides and other materials prohibited by the organic standards in the agreement.

“Demand for all types of organic services is on the rise as people continue to be concerned about the amounts and types of chemicals used in everyday tasks. At the same time, consumers are sometimes unsure what ‘green’ means,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. “With the new ‘Be Green’ initiative, the state will provide a way for specifically trained yard care companies to use the special logo when they offer organic yard management. The initiative will connect consumers with names of qualified companies. The goal of ‘Be Green’ is to help create an organically managed environment for people, pets, wildlife and plants.”

Some of the prohibited substances under the agreement include: synthetic herbicides, insecticides, insect growth regulators, fungicides, rodenticides, or molluscides (except those limited synthetic products allowed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program); products that contain synthetic synergists, such as piperonyl butoxide; products that contain inert ingredients on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) List 1: Inert Ingredients of Toxicological Concern; plant material or seeds derived from genetically modified organisms; synthetic fertilizers or fertilizers derived from sewage sludge; chemically treated wood (including pressure-treated wood).

Businesses also take a ‘Be Green’ training course, before signing the agreement. The course consists of a day-long qualifying training, which businesses must complete before participating in the program. DEC will also provide 4-hour refresher courses that ‘Be Green’ businesses must take every two years.

There are several steps to the Be Green program:
• First, course providers would sign up to participate and begin offering training needed by future ‘Be Green’ businesses
• Second, before being licensed by DEC to use the service mark, businesses must have staff trained in organic practices. Once that occurs, businesses can enter a license agreement that includes basic conditions for providing ‘Be Green’ services.
• Finally, when the program is fully up and running, trained ‘Be Green’ landscapers will be listed on DEC’s website. The public can then search for ‘Be Green’ businesses in their area.

DEC provides information on how to participate in ‘Be Green’ as a course provider or business, including the license agreement, application forms, and helpful instructions. If you are not in the NY area and would like to have an organic lawn or landscape, you can visit Beyond Pesticides’ Safety Source for Pest Management to find a pest management or lawn service company that provides least toxic options. For more on least- and non-toxic lawn care practices, including our ‘Organic Land Care Basic Training for Municipal Officials and Transitioning Landscapers,’ taught by Chip Osborne, a professional horticulturist with over 30 years experience and an expert on building and transitioning turf to organic care, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes page. Read also our factsheets: “Read Your “Weeds” – A Simple Guide To Creating A Healthy Lawn” and “Least-Toxic Control of Weeds.”

Source: NYDEC


2 Responses to “NY State Launches ‘Be Green Organic Yards’ Program”

  1. 1
    Amy Says:

    this can’t come soon enough! I’m on board with your simple guide to creating a healthy lawn but just don’t have time to do it myself – are there any services I could pay to provide lawn care that are already adhering to these principles?

    I’m in the philly area.

  2. 2
    Beyond Pesticides Says:


    Try looking at our “Safety Source for Pest Management” directory for least toxic pest services. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pcos/findapco.htm

    Companies are listed in the directory because they completed a survey and indicated that they use one or more practices and/or materials that we categorize as “non-toxic” or “least-toxic.” Many of the companies in the directory operate businesses that we consider “mixed operations” because they may also use products that we classify as “toxic.”

    As a customer, you must talk with the service provider about the products that they use, inform yourself on their potential to cause adverse effects, and decide what makes sense for you. It might be handy to tell them about this guide! For more information on talking to a service provider and getting them to switch to organic, see our guide: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoservices/pcos/TALKING.HTM.

    Good luck!

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