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Clifton Park to host organic lawn care seminars

Clifton Park to host organic lawn care seminars

CLIFTON PARK — The town is planning to host educational training for local businesses and landowners about chemical-free and pesticide-alternative lawn care practices.

The Clifton Park Town Board, during its Jan. 13 meeting, unanimously approved a resolution that will allow the town to enter into a contract to receive grant funding to provide several training and educational sessions focused on sustainable and environmentally friendly lawn-care techniques.

The contract itself is expected to receive approval at the next board meeting.

Town Board member Amy Standaert, who also chairs the Clifton Park Government Re-Thinking Energy & Environment Now Committee, said the goal to bring in such a program has been on the town’s radar for many years.

The GREEN Committee has been assisting and advising the Town Board on energy and environmental impacts and issues since 2007. Typically, the committee meets and brainstorms ideas for sustainability that are pitched to the town for further development.

Clifton Park has been awarded a $14,978 grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute.

That funding is to be used to “offset costs of the delivery of focused workforce and professional development training concerning effective uses of organic lawn and land care,” according to the resolution approved by the board.

Lawn care, Standaert said, is a priority for many town residents. But in an attempt to maintain lawns, or, on a larger scale, farms or other significant areas of land, she added, methods used often include pesticides or harmful chemicals which have the potential to pollute water bodies.

She cited the ponds in Clifton Knolls as one such water area that could be affected by lawn care chemicals.

“Everyone is proud of lawns and they want everything to look good but they always go to same methods,” she said. The training is meant to provide information about viable alternatives, she said.

While private citizens will be able to participate in the training, targeted groups are landscape service companies, workers and new-to-workforce staff. Some of the funding will also be used to promote the training.

“We’re trying to provide an educational piece for people, so they understand why waterways become polluted,” Standaert said.

The training, hosted by the Northeast Organic Farming Organization,  will be held over four days at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library in late February.

Each day will cover different topics; attendees who are present for all four days will receive an accreditation at the conclusion of the training.

The town, Standaert said, will be utilizing the local chamber of commerce and other community partners to advertise for the event, and will be actively recruiting larger local businesses to participate, she said. The town will also make some of the information included in the training accessible to the general public.

A move to organic or environmentally friendly land treatment has been gaining traction in town over the last few years.

The Shenendehowa Central School District recently switched to an organic field treatment for the district’s vast network of athletic fields after utilizing a pesticide- and herbicide-heavy treatment for many years.

Parents, Standaert pointed out, have always been among the most vocal advocates for non-harmful field treatments, and the conversation about bolstering that process around town among town officials has been going on for many years.

“I really think this is going to be a really good avenue to continue that conversation,” Standaert said.

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