LONDONDERRY, N.H., Sept. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Stonyfield Organic, the country's leading organic yogurt maker, today announces the first 10 communities selected for its StonyFIELDS #PlayFree initiative which will help convert public fields and parks to organic grounds management, ensuring fields and community spaces are free from the use of toxic persistent pesticides and harmful chemicals. This is especially important for children, who are most vulnerable to pesticides. The initiative comes at a critical time as awareness for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Round-Up weed killer and an identified "probable carcinogen" or cancer-causing substance by the World Health Organization's Cancer Agency, IARC, is finally getting the critical attention it deserves.
"Over 26 million kids play on parks and fields, most of which are managed using a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, glyphosate being one of those commonly employed," says Stonyfield co-founder and Chief Organic Optimist Gary Hirshberg. "Unfortunately, the federal agencies in charge of protecting us from dangers like these are now being dismantled right before our eyes, so we feel the time is right to lend our voice to this critical issue and inspire everyone to become advocates and change agents for the health of their loved ones."
South Portland, ME, the inaugural community, is beginning organic management work at its beloved Bug Light field and will celebrate with a town Field Day on September 29. The full list of the first 10 communities that plan to team up with Stonyfield over the next year includes the following:
- South Portland, ME
- Costa Mesa, CA
- Burbank, CA
- Tustin, CA
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Houston, TX
- North Miami, FL
- Hyattsville, MD
- Portsmouth, NH
- Dover, NH
"South Portland recently enacted an ordinance to establish organic practices as the primary means to care for and maintain property in the city including lawns, gardens, athletic fields, parks, and playgrounds," said Julie Rosenbach, Sustainability Director in South Portland. "In this endeavor, we are proud to be working with Stonyfield to improve the grounds at one of our most beautiful parks. Although we do not use pesticides at this site, we have not actively managed the park's grounds beyond mowing. Our goal with this collaboration is to build the soil health and cultivate a greener, more resilient landscape using organic practices. As I've heard it said, when it comes to organic land care, 'it's not what you don't do, it's what you do do,'" she added.
Several of the cities Stonyfield is supporting have already begun organic management practices on their parks and fields, and Stonyfield is honored to support and celebrate the work they've done by providing extra seed funding and on-going technical support as they move forward with their organic programs.
Furthering its longstanding mission, the brand is also announcing two donation programs – a community donation and a grassroots donation - to help other communities across the country make the conversion to organic field management. Stonyfield's ten community donations will provide towns with $5,000 in cash to use towards the purchase of organic inputs and/or landscaping equipment needed for organic management, plus in-kind technical support and guidance from expert resources. Residents, town employees, or town elected officials can nominate their community to receive one of these donations, and those interested in applying can find application details here.
In addition, a grassroots donations program has been established that is geared toward 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations looking to take their community organization to the next level. For this part of the program specifically, a total of $50,000 will be given out to 501 (c)(3) groups based on project proposals. Interested applicants can find details on the grassroots donations here. All selected applicants from both donation programs will be announced in April 2019.
The StonyFIELDS #PlayFree initiative launches as Stonyfield celebrates its 35th year, and deepens the activist brand's commitment to issues beyond the food aisle by shedding light on an often overlooked issue. In a recent survey*, Stonyfield found that the majority of American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, yet nearly the same number (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Stonyfield is eager to bring attention to this issue by empowering everyone to make change locally to protect the health of children and the environment.
"Several of the most commonly used chemicals on playing fields are either proven or likely endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the development of children's immune, reproductive, and metabolic systems," says Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Founding Director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and author of the book Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know. "I applaud Stonyfield and its collaborators for this initiative and encourage all parents to get involved in their local communities."
Conversion to a toxic persistent pesticide-free and organically managed space can take up to three years and is a process that has repeatedly been proven both successful and cost effective. The adoption of organic soil management practices builds soil biology, prevents weed and insect problems, and contributes to healthy plants and ecosystems. Over 70 communities around the country have begun the process of transitioning their playing fields to organic management, or taken the first step of eliminating certain toxic persistent pesticides from their management routine. Stonyfield is collaborating with three organizations that are leaders in this movement: Beyond Pesticides, Non Toxic Neighborhoods, and Osborne Organics, to help with conversions, support communities as they transition and to provide inspiration and resources to concerned parents everywhere with resource guides on the Stonyfield website. In addition, each community that is part of the program receives a monetary donation to be used toward the conversion.
For information on the donation programs or to learn about specific community conversions, visit www.stonyfield.com/playfree.
As the leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield takes care with everything it puts into its products and everything it keeps out. By saying no to toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, Stonyfield has been saying yes to healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet for 35 years. Stonyfield, a Certified B-Corp, is also helping to protect and preserve the next generation of farmers and families through programs like its Direct Milk Supply and Wolfe's Neck Organic Training Program as well as StonyFIELDS, a nationwide, multi-year initiative to help keep families free from pesticides in parks and playing fields across the country.
About Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides, founded in 1981, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. that works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The organization has assisted hundreds of communities nationwide to transition to organic land management practices and policies. The group served on the National Organic Standards Board, 2010-2015.
About Non Toxic Neighborhoods
Concerned about their children's health in 2015, Non Toxic Neighborhoods' leadership worked with their local leaders to promote a ban on toxic pesticides in their city. As a result, the City of Irvine and Irvine Unified School District adopted an historic organics-first landscaping policies in 2016. NTN now assists cities and school districts to transition to organic land management sharing their proven and replicable methods, to adopt a similar organic land management program for the health and wellness of families across America.
About Osborne Organics
"Chip" Osborne, Jr., President of Osborne Organics, LLC, and Founder of the Organic Landscape Association has over 17 years of experience in creating safe, sustainable and healthy athletic fields and landscapes through natural turf management.
*Stonyfield and Lindberg International surveyed 1,000 adults age 18 and older, comprised of 537 parents with children living at home, in January 2018.