No Need to Use Pesticides

No Need to Use Pesticides
Posted on April 7, 2013 | Mark MacKenzie | Written on May 19, 2004
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Author's Note:

Author's Note:

My Letter Story

As a grade four student at St. Martin’s in London, Ontario in 1970, our class studied pollution.  Perhaps Mr. Coleman was a bit ahead of the curve as the 1970’s did usher in an era where we questioned the unbridled oil-driven economic growth of post-war North America.  We were divided into groups and I was disappointed to be saddled with the group that was to present to the class all about ‘Noise Pollution’.  I thought that air and water pollution were much more important.

Fast forward to 1990 when I started an organic lawn care business.  The year 1990 was touted as the first year of what was to be the e-decade, as in e- for the environment.  Interestingly enough, the decade did become the e-decade for all of the electronic innovations such as e-commerce, e-books, and e-mail that became entrenched in our personal and working lives.  

Eventually I became President of the Organic Landscape Alliance, a group of small businesses that had forsaken the traditional chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  The system was skewed very much in favour of the companies using chemical products and spreading these over people’s personal living spaces, ont the ground, into the air and into their water system.  A provincial government employee even came up with a power point presentation and system to support chemical lawn care companies in their quest to combat grassroots efforts to ban chemical usage for cosmetic purposes.  

The pivotal vote for by-laws in Ontario for the ban of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in Ontario was in May 2003 when the City of Toronto was voting on a by-law to ban pesticides on lawns.  It was going to be a close vote and both lobbying and media attention were intense.  The Organic Landscape Alliance was involved but most in an informative capacity.  

The vote at Toronto City Council was in a couple of days.  I was busy.  I had two fussing baby boys at the kitchen table pleasantly distracting me, but I knew that I had to do something.  I wrote a letter.  

The letter below went to all Toronto City Councilors and to the Toronto Star.  We immediately received feedback from enough undecided Councilors that this was the information that they had been missing in order to make an informed decision.   They needed to know that if they voted to ban pesticides that they wouldn’t be leaving their constituents high and dry with no way to care for a lawn.  My letter convinced enough Councilors that enough good alternatives existed for homeowners and businesses.  
Once the Toronto by-law passed in May 2003, the die was cast.  Other municipalities who had been waiting to see what happened in Toronto then carried on with their own by-laws.  Eventually, as was the case with the smoking by-laws, when enough of a critical mass happened across the province in terms of municipal by-laws, the province stepped in and made a law province-wide.

While there are many people whose tireless efforts for as many as 15 years made this law that puts human health as a priority, this one letter made the difference at the critical juncture.  I invite you to join the grassroots effort that is Unpublished Media to find that letter in you that can help shape a better world.

The ongoing debate at City Hall is missing the mark on all fronts. A lawn that is beautiful to the beholder is not something that the public should be forced to give up. This is the position of the companies that provide chemical lawn care. Pesticides should be banned because they are designed to kill and continue to harm after they have reached their original intended target. Our health should be the first priority. This is the position of many concerned citizens and groups, including many doctors and other health-care workers.

I know from my own experience as an organic lawn-care service provider, is that both are achieved in thousands of lawns across this country. The proponents of pesticide usage are having us believe the only two choices are dandelions or their beloved synthetic pesticides. Proper and real organic lawn care yields lush lawns that are highly resistant to insect infestation since they are teeming with soil microbial activity, can kill invading insects (nematodes for grubs and a variety of products for chinch bug), and harmful fungal growth just isn't an issue in a mature organic lawn system. If you learn how to grow grass instead of kill weeds, you will be amazed at the results.

As a member of the Organic Landscape Alliance, I also know there are a growing number of landscaping and lawn-care professionals who are quite capable and willing to provide 100 per cent organic lawn care. But, buyers must beware of many organic, natural, eco-friendly and safe claims that are made by some lawn-care companies that have not necessarily changed what they are doing, but have merely changed what they say they are doing. Or, they are baiting with the organic side and switching back to basically a chemical program again. With your deep-rooted lawns and biologically active soil, you will find yourself watering less during droughts. Just imagine the positive effect that widespread true organic land care would have on the already strained city water supply and the savings year after year to the public. Councillors should be encouraged to take this into account as another benefit, when making their decision.

The city of Waterloo and other municipalities have proven that at the park level, beautiful green spaces can be realized without pesticides. It starts with a change in thinking and must continue with full commitment. When you mix systems, i.e. put organic fertilizer down, then spray synthetic chemicals for insects, you have just killed what makes good organic fertilizer work. Chemical systems do not work if they are done improperly; the same applies to organic turf care. You can't mix and match.

Change is always uncomfortable and a ban on synthetic pesticides for cosmetic purposes will clearly be most painful for chemical lawn service providers and consumers who have been misinformed about their options. With better information, and a little patience while society adjusts, we will organically enjoy lush green spaces for many years to come.

Mark MacKenzie, President
Organic Landscape Alliance

About The Author

MarkMacKenzie's picture

Small businessman, father. Activist on issues of sustainability and health. Three time Green Party candidate and President of the Green Party of Canada 2012-13



In the past decade, it is now clear that Mark Mackenzie has left a legacy of business failures and garbage dumps. Organic pesticide-free is a failure ! Despite rigged testimonials and mock-photos, organic pesticide-free maintenance does not work ! It is impossible for home-owners or professionals to keep their properties beautiful by using so-called green alternative pesticides and practices. After 5 to 10 years of experiencing pesticide bans in Canada, it is now evident that organic pesticide-free maintenance is a total and dismal failure. Throughout Canada, the businesses operating in the organic lawn care industry are disintegrating into bankruptcies and business failures. Organic lawn care companies are disintegrating under the weight of their own treachery. Mackenzie’s Organic Landscape Alliance has all but disintegrated. Lying, cheating, and fraud are the only ways to make organic maintenance appear to work effectively. No one can afford this #@!!% organic nonsense ?!?! Moreover, pesticide bans in jurisdictions like Ontario, where Mackenzie and his buddies conspired to imposed their anti-pesticide life-style choices, destroyed public and residential green spaces by turning them into dangerous and pest-infested garbage dumps. A well-maintained lawn and landscape can only be achieved pesticides and fertilizers. Fortunately, conventional pesticides are safe, effective, economical, and low-risk. Lying, cheating, and fraud are the only ways to make organic pesticide-free maintenance appear to work effectively. Mackenzie’s organic pesticide-free schemes are a failure ! WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G