Beyond Pesticides recently embarked on an 11-day educational tour of the Hawaiian Islands, making the Big Island their final stop last week.
Pahoa parks crew learn about soil health from Chip Osborne
of Beyond Pesticides. Pahoa district park goes herbicide free March 10!
On its tour, which focused on organic land management, Beyond Pesticides organized events in concert with local organizations, agencies and county council members in Maui, Kaua’i and Hawai‘i Counties.
Local and national organic turf and landscape experts spent two days with Hawai’i County Parks staff at Pāhoa District Park and Kuawa St. soccer fields, talking about long term practices that build soil health without synthetic fertilizers, according to a release from Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas. They also demonstrated herbicide-free weed management techniques using tools including steam equipment, rubber no-grow strips for fence lines and ground cover revegetation.
Pāhoa District Park and Kuawa St. soccer field will go completely herbicide-free for a trial period of one year as part of ongoing efforts to reduce herbicide use in public spaces, the release continues.
Villegas and Councilman Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder were present for the training and hosted a community meeting on Tuesday evening to talk about the new developments.
“The community has been very clear that they do not want herbicides used on their parks or roadways, and I’m glad to see that the departments are taking steps to learn alternate practices,” Villegas said. “Collectively, we have been dependent on herbicides and synthetic fertilizers for so long that we have forgotten how we did things before, with non-toxic methods and long term management of soil health.”
“I hope that (this training) will give our county staff and departments the confidence they need to fully support a policy prohibiting the use of herbicides on our parks and roadways the next time I propose it,” she continued. “Our county workers are on the front lines of these positive changes, and I’m glad they have the support they need.”
On Tuesday, Hawai’i County Public Works representatives joined the Parks crews for a hands-on demonstration of how steam equipment can be used to manage park and roadside weeds.
“Over the 11-day tour, we worked with eight agencies and six large landscaping entities on three islands. It has been exciting to see how each entity plays a distinct, but important, part in a larger conversation about how we can return to land management systems that are not dependent on chemical inputs,” said Autumn Ness, Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i Program Director. “Many of the county workers we spent time with lit up when they learned that they could care for their spaces by building soil that actually pulls carbon out of the air and contributes to slowing climate change.”
Beyond Pesticides will continue to work with agencies across the state, offering support needed to successfully transition away from pesticide and fertilizer dependent land management practices.
Beyond Pesticides organized the Big Island series of events in coalition with organizations and representatives across Hawai’i including: Hawai’i County Council Members Rebecca Villegas and Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder, Hawai’i County Parks Department, Greener Hawai’i, the Protect our Keiki Coalition, Weedsteam Hawai’i, and Harry Morley and Leslie Crandell from Waiki’i Ranch.
You can learn more about Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i online or by emailing aness@BeyondPesticides.org.