Friday, July 25, 2008

Organic Gardening with Chemical Happy Neighbors

I am so proud of my organic garden this year. It is growing so well with compost and mulch to improve the soil and keep weeds down. My only fertilizer is worm compost tea. The plants were all growing happy and strong.

Then, my neighbor decided to Roundup the weeds and grass along our shared fence. Granted, it wasn't along the section where my garden is, but the drift from the herbicide killed two feet of grass on my side of the fence (where my dogs play) and drifted four feet into the garden. A tomato plant and a potato plant nearest the corner have been sick and wilted for weeks now, despite ample rain.

I did some research online and found recommendations to wait 8 weeks before eating crops that have possible herbicide drift. Eight weeks! Despite all my hard work to make an organic garden, I still have to worry about chemical residue in my food!

My problem is on a very small scale, and will not likely happen again (the culprit happens to be my uncle). I can do something about it. But, what if it were on a larger scale, and your neighbors were huge growers spraying chemicals on their fields by airplane? What if you couldn't go outside because the air was toxic with chemical drift?

Check out the story Pesticide Drift about people living in California's Central Valley, who have to live and work in chemical drift every day. They raise their families in a place where 30% of children have asthma. The people living in these areas are trying be heard. They are getting organized, and sampling the air with 'Drift Catchers' to prove their is a problem to government officials who downplay the drift as a matter of tolerance, and merely a bad smell.

Please think about that next time you buy a big bag of lettuce or slice open a juicy melon that was likely grown in California. Buy organic food, support sustainable growers, and grow your own food if you can.

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