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Go Organic with Upcoming Accreditation Courses in Organic Land Care

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2011) For the tenth consecutive year, the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Program (NOFA OLC) is hosting an accreditation course in organic land care in three different locations around the New England area starting January 9, 2012. Attendees will learn the how to design and maintain ecological landscapes without the use of toxic pesticides. The course is for any land care professional, including school grounds or municipal employees, conservation property managers, master gardeners, entrepreneurs or landscape enthusiast to learn the ecology of residential yards or municipal and school grounds and to learn how to care for these spaces using sustainable and safe products and methods.

Over 1,200 students from 22 different states have taken the course, and there are currently about 550 Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs) bringing this expertise to their jobs as landscapers, groundskeepers, conservationists, planners, garden center employees, and a number of other fields.

Students of the accreditation course come away with a practical understanding of landscape ecology and organic methods. Frank Crandall, owner of Frank Crandall Horticultural Solutions in Rhode Island, described the course as “the best educational course I have ever taken . . . I immediately made a plan to convert my landscape business into a completely organic company over three years.”

Caro Roszell, the NOFA/Mass OLC Coordinator credited “a lot of motivation from professionals to create safer, healthier, and more naturally beautiful landscapes, and their clients are demanding it too. They want to offer an effective, competitive organic program, so they come to us.”

This 5-day, 30-hour course features a faculty of respected scientists and experienced organic land care practitioners. Class topics include: site analysis, design and maintenance; rain gardens and storm water infiltration; soil health; fertilizer and soil amendments; lawn alternatives; wetlands; pest management; wildlife management; disease control; mulches; invasive plants; and, client relations and running a business. Four hands-on case studies are also included in the course and attendees may take an optional exam to become NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs). Bill Duesing, Executive Director of Connecticut NOFA and one of NOFA OLC’s founders explains, “Our course instructs students on landscaping that is healthier for people and the environment. Organic land care replaces toxic chemicals that get in our skin, lungs and water with methods that promote biodiversity, create habitat and protect water quality.”

The course is offered three times in 2012:
January 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Worcester State University
Worcester, MA

February 15, 16, 17, 21, 22
The Connecticut Agricultural Station-New Haven Laboratory
New Haven, CT

February 27, 28, 29, March 1, 2
Kettle Pond Visitor Center
Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge
Charlestown, RI

The NOFA Organic Land Care Program was founded by a volunteer committee of scientists, activists, and landscapers from the Massachusetts and Connecticut Chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. The Accreditation Course curriculum is based on the committee’s Standards for Organic Land Care: Practices for Design and Maintenance of Ecological Landscapes published in 2001, now recognized and implemented across the U.S. and accepted into the International Family of Standards regulated by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

Please visit www.organiclandcare.net for more information on the accreditation course or to search for AOLCPs in your area. For information about the Rhode Island and Connecticut course please e-mail Kristiane Huber at [email protected] or call the CT NOFA office at (203) 888-5146. For information about the Massachusetts Course please contact Caro Roszell at [email protected] or (508) 360-0874.

Beyond Pesticides offers online training as well. ‘Organic Land Care Basic Training for Municipal Officials and Transitioning Landscapers,’ is taught by Beyond Pesticides’ board member Chip Osborne, a professional horticulturist with over 30 years’ experience, and an expert on building and transitioning turf to organic care. For more information, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes page.

In addition, Beyond Pesticides’ 30th National Pesticide Forum, Healthy Communities: Green solutions for safe environments, will be held in New Haven, Connecticut March 30-31, 2012. The conference will focus on organic landcare, urban/ suburban pesticide use, organic food, and protective national, state, and local policies. The forum is being held in partnership with Connecticut and New England groups at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. For more information and to register, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/forum.


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