The Ruckus Accomplished What?

RedWingedBlackbirdMale

The National Wildlife Federation and Scotts….

The Ruckus Accomplished What?

That is a hard question to get a good, honest reliable answer to in my opinion. It stopped the partnership. It stopped potential programs; it stopped the money; it stopped possibilities. It made some very happily triumphant and others disappointingly disillusioned.  It caused loss of respect in both directions. It never once had the wildlife first and foremost from either side, no matter the reasons and argument. One side wanted to toot their own horn and the other wanted to quietly create something worthwhile. Listening to either side had one’s head spinning between agreement and abhorrence.

Who am I talking about here? You fill in the blanks. You might think just the two parties, the NWF and Scotts, but the third player was the bloggers causing the uproar.

2HeronsInTree

The association between the National Wildlife Federation and Scotts was not necessarily a bad thing.  I am well aware of the cost of the association in public outcry, but the partnering was never given a chance to see it develop. I cannot see how it would have been any more detrimental than what actually occurred with the verbal onslaught that was hurled at the National Wildlife Federation.

GooseFamily

A few were branding Scotts as the devil on blogs – emotion and hyperbole took over reason.

It simmered at “the NWF lost all credibility in my eyes”, to a boil with,”they sold out” and “the NWF was making deals with the devil.”  It bubbled at “I will never go back to the NWF”; “just can’t trust them”; and “I choose to leave the losers at Scotts and NWF behind”; and the main comment, “I’m mailing back my sign”, and the list goes on and on.

I am not saying these bloggers should not feel as they did, they obviously acted on emotion. I have a very different way of looking at it though. I am not a home gardener and that makes my opinion much different from many that got vested in this debate. I approached it as a professional and with that comes the responsibility to understand and accept how and why others garden in the way in which they do. I cannot pass judgement, yet I can guide where it seems likely to see a change of direction. And I do try to get those I work with to garden in more sustainable ways.

HeronFeeding

Why is it though they could not give the benefit of the doubt and see what would develop, then make up their minds. I was willing to see where the partnership would go. It could have been good or bad, but was worth at least seeing.

There are far greater assaults on the environment than a possible union of the NWF and Scotts. Money meant programs, partnership meant some responsibility to making things better and mutually agreeable – finding common ground. But money is the big factor, without it, less can happen to improves things.

LaughingGull

I am not naive to what the chemicals do in the long-term to person, animal and habitat, I have read many studies and worked on a few major remediation projects.

Yes, it is serious, but the movement towards conservation and sustainability needs organizations with much more clout to go to bat for the environment. It needs lobbyists to address government (what the NWF does well).

It needs some of these chemicals reexamined and removed from the marketplace. You saw in the last post efforts in that direction. Long term use of certain pesticides has shown negative consequence where countries and states are weighing the cost of allowing these products on the market. This is something that will take great effort and people who know the process. A Trojan Horse approach maybe would have been in order. Working from within had possibility.

HeronLookingForFish

Scotts is putting product out there, successfully marketing and creatively advertising them as safe while used as recommended – all the while the products have the potential to pollute water and soils. Some product kills insect life indiscriminately as designed.

Is it in Your Garden Shed?

I have no doubt that some gardeners secretly use Scotts Bug-B-Gon for instance, and have seen it in the garden sheds of gardeners I have heard talk about their safe and welcoming, certified garden habitats. I get to many more gardens than do many bloggers in a years time with my job and the hundreds of garden walk properties in our area, so I have a tendency to want to know how these folks garden. Garden habits is important in design. Some have gardeners employed and I need to know their maintenance practices too.

HeronWading

I don’t use these products outdoors because I value the insects and want them in my garden, but I bet there are a lot that want the vegetables and flowers more than they do the insects. I find that using product by some, is on occasion what is necessary, so I am NOT the one to criticize the need where there is little other choice. I write about pesticide use often on this blog, but I am just one voice making noise on the subject. It needs to be addressed (less toxic versions developed, harmful ones abolished) for the sake of all creatures on this planet, us too.

Ladybug

Not Everything you Grow Needs Application

I have been pretty lucky with insects controlling each other. Even last year the pumpkins had little problem as the Spotted Cucumber Beetles were in check with no pesticide used. My garden has many wasps and spiders on patrol, and there were hoards of Squash bees pollinating the plants. I was in heaven seeing all the insect activity on these two plants. See the post on my pumpkins and my lack of pesticide use, but I am aware this is not likely to occur commercially.

CanadaThistles-2

But Some Might!

And really, when you see those beautiful potted annual plants overflowing with blooms, do you think Miracle Gro did not grace those blooms before they were purchased? I work with both wholesale and retail nurseries in my job, and see the daily applications.  I am betting many that blog use Miracle Gro, after all, potted plants will starve in a long season if not fertilized in some fashion, either natural or manufactured.

BlueHeronFishing

I confess, I  buy Miracle Gro potting soil myself for all my indoor plants. I use the fertilizer indoors as well on some plants.

Outside, my potted plants grow in my homemade mix of compost, manure and the Organic Choice light weight soil made by Scotts (also includes Miracle Gro – yes, well aware of the hypocrisy here). My poor lawn is nothing but weeds, so who cares? I am not applying fertilizer to lawns and gardens, so I do make an effort not to add to an ever-increasing ground water problem.

Am I a hypocrite? From my middle ground perspective, no. Insects love my yard. So do birds, garter snakes and squirrels. And I did not dump or disparage the NWF.

Why is Scotts so Popular with Gardeners?

Scotts has a glitzy website that is very user-friendly with an iPhone app called Sprout It for those needing a little nudge in the “right” direction for planting just about anything. The consumer just plugs in their zip code and it is tailored to their locale and gardening habits. The monthly newsletter is similar with the same regional advice.

No wonder homeowners love their products, especially the My Scotts Lawn App to let consumers manage lawns from their mobile phones. They provide the advice and solutions the gardeners “need” with their Ortho Problem Solver App.  They have birding covered too and offer tips to attract them to the yard. No marketing stone is unturned and honestly, some of the tips are the same things posted on garden blogs too.

GreenHeron-5

One stop shopping for the gardening consumer. Since the company provides what the consumer WANTS, it is a very long haul to get people to think differently. It is a longer haul to make them see that nitrogen rich fertilizers greening up their lawns are getting into our waterways and playing havoc with our wetlands.

Almost every garden center and Master Gardener is recommending products to control insects and fertilizers to green up lawns. I answered phones for years and met with home and commercial gardeners as a Master Gardener for Cornell Cooperative Extension, so I know the MG’s recommend product. See the enormity of this problem?

No, I am not a cheerleader for Scotts’ products, but I do understand why people use them –  speedy application, convenience, fast results, and loads of advice from their experts to help in just about any gardening situation.  Most people only care about where they live and not the greater community surrounding them unfortunately. People need to think sustainably and that includes the greater environment that surrounds their small spot on this Earth.

I would love to see Scotts have more packaged organic products. If it were profitable, I bet they would. It is all in the marketing and they are masters of that.

WhiteHeron

There will come a time to pay the piper and I believe that time is rapidly approaching.

Why It Matters to Me

It matters because having worked on professional projects to clean brownfields and restore wetlands, the cost is beyond what most states can provide in Superfund dollars. There is never enough to go around. Money matters and it can run out where it is needed most.

The NWF lobbies for places such as these. They help get projects approved at the government level and have funds set aside for native habitat remediation projects. It matters to me that they have sites like this as a priority for birds.

The firm where I worked did do design on one brownfield remediation site in our area (one with some images in this post, Tifft Nature Preserve), and helped to restore a native habitat, but it was not nearly as toxic as the industrial heritage site I worked on for the firm (Cherry Farm) which never got funded at that time.

So there sits the tainted land riverside with wildlife living and breeding amongst the heavy metal laden soils. It is not safe for people so it is not safe for egg laying birds.

More funded study was done subsequently in 2011, so we will see where it leads, but what I have read, rather than restoring the wetland nature preserve, this study’s ultimate goal is to promote redevelopment that would create jobs and increase tax revenues. Is this in the best interest of the wildlife?

BeaverHead

Another project I worked on at the firm was the Buffalo Greenway Nature Trail. It was to redevelop brownfield lands along the waterfront and get people back into nature. This project was developed successfully.

In case any readers do not know what brownfields are, they are: abandoned, idled or under-used property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or possible presence of environmental contamination. When one considers a potential site for redevelopment, many hurdles stand in the way, depending especially on the industrial heritage of the proposed site.

This is one reason why I wanted Scotts to provide a sizable funding source. I realize it would not coincide with projects Scotts would have on the table, but would free up other money for the NWF to dedicate to worthwhile wetland projects like these if they so desired.

CanadaGooseFamily

In Conclusion

Just stopping pesticide use in the home garden is just a tip of the iceberg on a very growing environmental problem.

It is much harder, no scratch that, impossible when money is not available. And that is my point for the NWF. They need funding and how they get it should not matter as long as they have control on product using their name.

The conservation work completed is what is important, the wildlife saved, the habitat preserved, the waters and land cleaned – not the money used to get it done. I do not believe it was a matter of casting approval to products that are harmful, I think it may have been just turning a blind eye until at some point it could be addressed and dealt with. Greenwashing, well maybe, but Scotts was not going to give without getting.

I make no apologies for my opinion. I have worked on large wetland cleanup/rehabilitation projects only to see state funding fizzle away and large habitats lost to much greater chemical toxicity. I look to the greater gardens of my region, not just to one in my backyard.

HeronsOnDeadTree

My first instinct on the Scotts/ NWF union was maybe the NWF can do some good.  Take the money and make sure the products their logo emboldened were safe and natural products, and get Scotts to make “organic” profitable in both the financial and environmental realms.

…Get a foot in the door and start somewhere. I put my trust in the NWF to make the right choice and keep their common commitment to conservation. But then the association was never given a chance to see what would happen, good or bad.

OffForASwim

I did not even think of the NWF until I asked my cousin how she got her Certified Wildlife Habitat sign. It was not the same way I did….

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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65 Responses to The Ruckus Accomplished What?

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    I read that the largest group causing water pollution are the people who use chemicals on their lawns.

    • “Nonpoint source (NPS) water pollution regulations are environmental regulations that restrict or limit water pollution from diffuse or nonpoint effluent sources such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas in a river catchments or wind-borne debris blowing out to sea. In the United States, governments have taken a number of legal and regulatory approaches to controlling NPS effluent. Nonpoint water pollution sources include, for example, leakage from underground storage tanks, storm water runoff, atmospheric deposition of contaminants, and golf course, agricultural, and forestry runoff. Nonpoint sources are the most significant single source of water pollution in the United States, accounting for almost half of all water pollution,[1] and agricultural runoff is the single largest source of nonpoint source water pollution. [2] This water pollution has a number of detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Unlike point source pollution, nonpoint source pollution arises from numerous and diverse sources, making identification, monitoring, and regulation more complex.”

      source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpoint_source_water_pollution_regulations_in_the_United_States

      • yourothermotherhere says:

        There is a marsh by me that’s preserved and just in the past decade there has been a huge decline in the wildlife that lives there. What makes me angry is that people either don’t know, or don’t care, that what we are putting into the water IS affecting us in many ways.

        • Answer: don’t care. The sites I worked on there was no doubt the company owners knew. Also, dumping in rivers directly by chemical companies, that happened in our region at one time, was just a way to flush it away.

  2. Patrick says:

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with such candor.I agree that money is the life blood of any organization and the benefit to wildlife is the ultimate measurement of success. I feel for the NWF and how it has been so abused by this incidence, To those who were so quick to judge and condemn, perhaps you should reconsider and make a donation to NWF for the benefit of the wildlife.

    • I too was hurt by what happen to the hard working folks at the NWF. Can you imagine how betrayed they felt? I do understand the dilemma though that they put themselves in. Consider, “In 2006 and 2007, the world used approximately 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides, with herbicides constituting the biggest part of the world pesticide use at 40%, followed by insecticides (17%) and fungicides.” This was from Wikipedia. When you consider all the insects destroyed, the plants destroyed, the birds without their main food source etc, etc, one can see why there was the uproar directed at one company as the stand in for another. It was wrong in my opinion, as I said in one post that the anger was misdirected, but it is even further misdirected in that the chemical components come from somewhere else yet.

  3. John Hric says:

    I can see your point that it would be most encouraging to have some successes at a higher level involving commerce and conservation together. The assaults against nature are seemingly endless and such a movement in the other direction would indeed be an astonishing thing. Not to mention a wonderful occurrence that, as part of nature, would directly benefit us !

    • You are right, it is endless, but the common denominator is humans. I was going to research how much technology has impacted the environment. The obvious is the computers that go to die in China = all the electronics releasing a stew of toxic materials — among them beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury and flame retardants — that can accumulate in the body. Pretty amazing how everything we do has environmental consequence. Maybe all companies should have in-house environmental watchdogs.

      • John Hric says:

        If only for their own business preservation. It is hard to market something to one who has or is being poisoned. Sadly the most positive sign of late is the rising awareness of the Chinese population of the effect of pollution along side their economic progress.

  4. connie661 says:

    Greenwashed– I love that! This seems like one of those cases where people want to talk with and associate with only those people who completely agree with them. These organizations had some differences, but they had some things in common. Perhaps if they had worked together on those areas of agreement, they could have then moved on to work on their differences.

    • I like your last sentence. I believe it could have been the case. They have things in common, it just took bringing those things to an environmental consensus, which would have taken a long time I am sure, but like I mentioned, maybe Scotts makes organic/safe products. Not sure what, but fertilizers would be a great place to start. Rent a goat! Kidding, but what a great thing, mow at one end, fertilize at the other.

  5. Martha says:

    Thank you for the intelligent, well thought out post based in experience. It will be worth a re-read and a link in my blog this weekend so others can think about the larger issue and perhaps alter their own individual behaviors as we reconsider our environmental responsibility. I’m not careful enough and I suspect many of us who hold the broad philosophy of sustainability could be more thoughtful in our habits and practices.

    • Thank you for maybe linking the post. I find it is difficult to get people to change life long habits. They way many grew up in gardening is what they do as adults. NWF has the right idea to start children’s programs. I looked at their site (added the link last post too) and they have a program worth developing and adding to school programs. Be Out There – a good title too. I agree, all of us can always be better.

  6. A.M.B. says:

    The NWF-Scotts debacle is fascinating. I hadn’t heard about it until your posts on the subject. On the one hand, it seems like a lost opportunity. On the other, I’m surprised NWF and Scotts didn’t realize it would be a PR nightmare.You can’t get away with as much in the Internet age.

    I love the pictures, by the way!

    • It flooded the internet with garden bloggers last year expressing their opinions – most all in opposition. I remember one lone and very courageous blogger that had many of the same thoughts as myself doing a post right when the brouhaha started, and after that barely ever posted again. She was hit hard with scathing comments not unlike what was done on FB by the bloggers to the NWF. I could not believe my eyes what was written. I did not even mention the worst of the comments above as examples. It was like mob mentality. Had I listed more remarks, it would have been known the author by the phrasing they used. My intent was not to call out anyone person for their emotional verbal assault. I remember my own comments became very ambiguous and did not express how I thought, to also not let on I did not agree in any way. If I would not have visited my cousin, saw her NWF sign, asked her about it, then discussed this issue with her, I would not have even given this crazy episode a thought. I was telling her reasons why I felt as I did and that lead to this series of posts.

  7. Very well said, Donna!
    Brilliant shots – as always!
    🙂

  8. Well done. I make my own compost from the kitchen and yard waste and my animals here have their young each year to thank me for my efforts it is up stream at the lake that gets released upon my land I worry about with all the gas and oil used in the boats not many neighbors to pollute the earth thankfully.

    • Thank you. Is it not everywhere one looks that our Earth is getting bombarded with some type of detrimental waste product? The Earth had the oil deep in itself for a reason – one purposeful reason. We take it out – not the reason. Yep, we need it too – creates the cycle. I have no basis for believing this, but I always thought that the oil was there as a lubricant which avoided earthquakes and volcanoes erupting. This was what I thought as a kid and since know that volcanoes happen for different reasons. My mind works in pictures and I could see in my head all the different parts sliding across one another (tectonic plates) like what you might see in a machine or a watch. Since I have read scientific reasons, but I still can’t kick this simplified image.

      • 🙂 Our earth is an amazing place and should all of us care where our next breath is coming from we may just be able to live a little longer though man seems to be able to always mess things up.

        On a good note I am watching Mom and Dad Cardinals feed their wee ones the egg shells I boil well and crush up some egg as well and leave outside the front door for them I know I should mess with nature but we have a wicked storm headed this way just trying to see 4 through the storm 🙂 me the romantic 🙂

  9. Donna, I applaud you for expressing your opinion and laying out your argument! I think it is very brave, especially in the blogging world which can be very harsh sometimes. I am still not sure that I see what Scotts was getting out of this relationship. Where they trying to tap into the “organic” market? But, as you pointed out may “organic” is not as profitable. Did they think that putting the NWF seal of approval on their product would give more credibility to their product? On the other hand, I didn’t think this was a good fit for NWF. I understand the argument for money and the hope of influence but at what cost to their core values and mission. I guess we will never know. It is fascinating that the blogging world had such an influence on the downfall of this partnership. It demonstrates what a force “our” voices are. That being said, I think a lot of people “vote” with their emotion and should put more thought into an issue especially if they are so influential. You end up with a lot of people buying into that emotion on a run away train.

    • Karin, I think that is what did happen. Too many jumped on the train without thinking of other outcomes and possibilities. I did not think it had to be a “fit” between them, but like in all negotiations, they would have to come to at least some agreement to be successful in the programs they were coauthoring. And the programs were for kids and those attracting birds. Two worthwhile endeavors. With Scotts, what they were gaining was some “approval or at least acceptance, or pure disregard (as in not noticing)” by their many detractors. They are such a big company that it must have seemed like a hoard of gnats nipping away, but I am sure as marketing savvy as they are it was a partnership from which they would have benefited. It was one they could have marketed in a good and wholesome light too. My thoughts were that the NWF would watchdog their marketing and keep it honest. After all, what programs Scotts has currently is draped in a veil of helping the gardener and the birds visiting garden. What is behind the products is what is troubling. I know with pressure, these issues are being addressed, but not because those are sitting at home typing on computers. Change in pesticide use is happening worldwide now and it is happening because of environmental groups such as the NWF. I agree, when one has a voice, it should weigh in all the options and not spout off on emotion. As per the cost to the mission, could it not have been a positive outcome? It all depended on the success of the projects developed, the attitude and actions of Scotts, and the word spread from doing the projects.

      • I see your point Donna. I admire you for having more faith in it all than I do. I guess we will never know now. I imagine that any other like partnership will have learned from their mistakes or be dead in the water before it even takes off. I am hopefully that the future generations will change their approach to chemical use. The gardens where I teach students are all organic and we teach the benefits of all living creatures in the garden. One step at a time and ever so slowly the mindset will change.

        • I think change is imminent really, but how beneficial is that change? Many of the chemicals have been around long enough and replaced others that were discontinued for similar reasons that the same path is being laid now. That is what many environmental groups, especially those working with bees and birds are most concerned. Changing one chemical component/makeup I believe is all that is necessary to make a new patented product. Don’t quote me on that, because I am really not sure, but I have read something to this effect. A bad product is discontinued, only to be replaced by one that has similar ill effects either on insects,birds or humans, but most certainly on the environment (since everything we do does). You are doing a wonderful thing as a teacher. The NWF has programs for schools too. I look forward to seeing kids grow up appreciating nature like our generation did when we were young. As adults I cannot say that we represent nature’s best interests on the whole though. That is why I asked that questions
          a while back in a post. Is it learned? Do kids today miss the opportunity?

  10. I didn’t even know this had happened until you posted about it. It does surprise me that NWF didn’t anticipate the backlash.

    I definitely think landscapes can get by without companies like Scott’s, though I don’t see it happening any time in the near future. You’re right about economy driving the deal.

    • I too believe landscapes can exist without Scotts. As I said, I only use the potting soil, which I don’t even have to, and Roundup on the pavers, again something that has other options. But it is convenience on both counts and that is WHY Scotts will always appeal to busy gardeners. My main point is not to look at environmental issues in our own gardens, but those creating larger problems to the locales in which we live. My experience in my job sent me on this path. My training in college also made me see the larger picture. And where there is money, principles fade unfortunately and that is what I think the bloggers feared most. I may naively in my search for good intention, believe it could have had a positive outcome.

  11. Debra says:

    I guess one thing it accomplished was that it got people talking about some important issues: like the importance of generating funding and the misuse of fertilizers and pesticides. It also got people thinking about the relative benefits of using organic methods to integrated pest management systems.

    In a way though such a partnership kind of seemed destined for failure — a little bit like a professor dating an undergrad. You can see the attraction on both sides and both parties might walk away with some valuable life lessons but there is such an imbalance of power that it has the potential to be really damaging. This love story had no happy ending: both groups tarnished their reputations, Scott’s continues to use chemicals in its fertilizers and pesticides that damage our environment and the NWF continues to go hungry for funding.

    Maybe the moral of the story is that we need the companies that cause environmental damage to contribute much more money to the EPA superfund projects. The superfund program also needs better administration. By using a kind of triage system where only the worst sites get cleaned they allow more and more polluted sites to be created each year. We can’t ever catch up. So let’s just get all those sites cleaned up once and for all and not at the tax payer’s expense. When corporations are held accountable and have to pay the true costs of the messes they leave behind we might then have a real win-win situation. And we might even get them to change some of their damaging practices if business as usual starts to become too costly.

    • It did get people talking but who really? I say that because some of the people commenting on this series have not heard of the debate. The NWF and Scotts were pretty quiet on it also. It was not a big deal at that time to promote any of what was going to transpire, but the small releases published really caught the eye of the bloggers. They are the ones that brought it to the forefront, but in a very limited way I think. Unfortunately, it was the way in which they did. They ended up intimidating the NWF into dropping the partnership. This was not right. Too much was assumed to be future plans and subordination that those blogging had no idea as fact. I cannot see it as a David and Goliath situation, nor can I see it as one organization cowering in the shadow of another.

      I would have no basis for saying all would be rosy in the relationship, like they had no reason for saying it would destroy the NWF. My opinion was based on trust for the NWF. Their opinion was based on distrust and mistrust of both parties. Only Scotts and the NWF knew what was going to happen, not us sitting with little information.

      There was NO DOUBT that Scotts would continue manufacturing their products. I cannot imagine that being on the table in negotiation. It would have been great if the NWF could have Scotts also produce organic products if it was at all profitable. Then Scotts would come off looking like they were making improvements and alternatives.

      I believe you are right on having the companies be responsible for damage to foot the bill for cleanup. All industrial companies should have to pay a tax on what they dispose of and produce. Maybe they do, I don’t know, but I can tell you how they avoid it. Here in my area, the companies leave abandoned factories, but not completely. The keep a small skeleton crew in them to say the company is still in operation. This avoids clean up of idle property with them footing the bill – or at least it postpones it until companies change ownership or whatever makes them not responsible.

      Companies up here made chemicals, still do, so you can image the cleanup if they leave. The one in my post that I worked on was a 79-acre parcel that had been used for the disposal of waste from steel manufacturing processes (1908-1963) and as an industrial landfill (1963-1970). NYSDEC eventually designated the property as a hazardous waste site. I cannot get into the specifics, but suffice it to say the land needed remediation and waterfront property cleanup. I designed a kid’s learning center – an Interpretive Center for the site to showcase the history of the property, the cleanup processes necessary, the wildlife and plant life that was restored, and generally how the site was returned to nature. Still the site remains but it still is getting money for firms to make proposals. Now the direction looks to be to add to the tax base.

      You have very good thoughts in your comment. I am a bit of an idealist and am always looking to see things made better. When I moved to Niagara Falls, that was the hope, but it has only gotten worse. Always two opposing sides and very little working together. Progress is always halted when two side collide.

  12. Debra says:

    I guess I have to confess to being an idealist, too. If the NWF could have influenced Scott to develop organic products that would have been a wonderful development. Thanks for the info on how some of these sites try to avoid the cleanup. Gosh. These sites are just everywhere and encompass not only chemical plants but even toxic waste ‘ponds’ like the ones from the chicken factories and the radioactive wastes from fracking. When the tide shifts and people realize the importance of cleaning these areas there will be no shortage of work. I sure hope your project eventually gets the go-ahead and let’s hope that with a new person in charge of the EPA that the agency will get more power and be able to fulfill its mandate.

    • I so agree, everywhere one looks there is one environmental infraction or another. If industrial companies would have in house environmentalists, maybe they would be in better compliance, like OHSA reps. on site. Where my husband works, they are all over. He works in these chemical plants too.

  13. Brian Comeau says:

    I purposely waited to read all the post before commenting. I appreciate how transparent you have been with your thoughts and feelings. It made me think about my own decisions and products I use. Although I don’t use pesticides or weed killers I have bought products from the co. Is that bad… not sure but it makes me realize that there a lot of very large companies out there that produce products that I may not agree with but I still support the company when I purchase another product of theirs. Makes it very challenging for consumers… It’s hard to keep up with it all. Thanks for the education.

    • The die hard opponents would say yes it is bad for supporting the “enemy”. I admit to using Miracle Gro, I just don’t use other Scotts products. Roundup is used on pavers too and I am uncaring what the detractors would say. I have a garden that gets many insects and birds, so I feel good about the way I care for my property and that around me.

      I was trying to say in the post that there are circumstances where product use may be the only option. Poison Ivy and Horsetail come to mind. What some of the detractors may also not realize is that product is used on some native sites as well because an invasive species is so entrenched, only a pesticide like the commercial version of Roundup can be used to eradicate the invasive permanently – to be replanted at a later date by the desired native plants. Fire is used also, but some seed lives through fire.

      I think the Pollyanna approach is also not effective. I always try to look at all sides and not be too one direction or the other. In my job it is necessary to listen to the client, and that is the direction to be taken if one chooses to work with that individual. If they will use product, well I have to accept that. My own property can be anyway I choose, and I choose nature.

      • Brian Comeau says:

        I agree with you and your approach. Like you I have concerns on my own property for my kids the animals so dandelions etc… have their way.

        I volunteer with a few environmental groups and we tend to be on the moderate side of our opinions. Being to vocal can mean that the companies don’t show up at the table to even talk.A little progress is better than none at all.

  14. from several sources have been processed human, one of which is yours Donna, thank you for that interesting shooting

  15. Graziella says:

    Hi Donna, great article, you have touched on many sore points unfortunately. Here in Malta, we face the same problem. We are a speck in the ocean, just over 120 square miles, but we do have indigenous habitats not found elsewhere in the world. We have no fresh water, only what goes into the water table below ground, and that has been so polluted with nitrates from runoff water from fields that it’s going to take around 50 years to clean it if everyone stops now. Not going to happen. Farmers here have been growing crops using all sorts of pesticides for generations, and since we are so small the few farmers who show interest in growing organically can’t because they end up with all the disease and insects from their neighbors. Everyone wants quick and easy, and it’s not easy to turn that around. We do have Miracle Gro here among other things, and these products are recommended by nurseries. They say, you can try to do it naturally, but it’s hard and it will take time and patience. It’s terrible, we are not even being educated on the subject, sometime I doubt if the people at the nurseries or landscape designers are since we are not even given a choice on the matter. Sorry it’s such a long comment, but it gets to me that we cannot go back to how our ancestors used to do it. We are not reinventing the wheel, we just need to look back, but it’s got so bad now, and it’s so prohibitively expensive that few can compete if any.

    • Today is World Ocean Day, what a coincidence for your comment. It is such a shame Malta has no fresh water and what you do have is polluted by runoff. It really is an expensive dilemma to grow organically as you have shown. It would be hard to compete on many levels. I am glad you commented at length too by example. I agree, going backwards does seem to be the answer, forgoing all the advancement in farming and living off the land in a sustainable way. But, that is unlikely and unfortunately it would help immensely,

  16. Karen says:

    Whether you agree or disagree, another good post Donna. Thoughtful and thought provoking…lets everyone see both sides to the story.

  17. debsgarden says:

    Excellent, excellent post. I agree that “organic” must be made profitable in both the financial and environmental realms. The average backyard gardener gets most of his garden education from information labels printed on products at the big box stores. I think most people would choose organic if the products were out there and easily available.

    • You are very right. Most consumers only ever see the application instructions and usually don’t read further to the warnings. If they did and looked up the chemical makeup, they might have a differing opinion on use. Did you ever notice how tiny it is written too? Some are printed on the inside of the product label, and people don’t always peel it off to read more.

  18. Donicia says:

    Beautiful photos!Amazing skill in photography!

  19. Well you know my opinion…yes emotional at first but when I directly addressed NWF they would not or could not answer my questions. I don’t think they had a well thought out plan and I do think they were hoping for exactly what you have outlined here, but again we will never know. I do not use any Scott’s products or chemicals on the lawn, the garden or anywhere. That is my choice. I do not use their potting soil and found my plants and flowers, veggies have actually grown better since stopping chemicals and chemical fertilizers. But I used to use these products until I educated myself. Everyone has the right to make their own choices in this country but I actually feel this whole partnership actually brought the issue more to the forefront for lots of people. There continues to be an upsurge by people to grow their own organic produce and use less chemicals. Maybe as a result…I don’t know. Yes it is a small start but a start. And yes we need to continue to support NWF for all their good work. I applaud you for making sure we do not forget that.

    I have grown up near the most polluted lake in the world and without the courts we would not be having it cleaned and the habitat restored. We cannot abandon our water ways.

    I think my fear now is with the GMOs and other sneaky ways to get chemicals into our food source and I am sure in our water as well. Sad really.

    • What were your questions? I am sure since negotiations were still fresh and issues likely on the table, the NWF could not answer many of what they were being asked. Also, I am sure questions were directed at them in an accusatory manner as I am judging from the comments left on their FB wall. I am not saying you did, but I know anger in many cases would have tempered what was asked of them.

      As for using chemicals, if one ever wants to design for residential and commercial properties, they will have to step back a bit on the “natural” beliefs, at least in addressing the clients. I have designed for four of the big name fast food restaurants and I can tell you, I would never have told them to change their use of product. Same with estates, properties are too big to go completely natural. Rose gardens would perish. Sure, they maybe should not even be in our humid climate, but who is going to tell the owners they can’t have roses. We can only do on our own properties what WE think is right. We can only steer homeowners in a better direction if we think it might be something they would consider.

      The potted annuals in these gardens would NEVER look like they do without added fertilizer through the growing season. They cannot be weened off it after being raised daily with it at the growers. I have tried. I have planted baskets from seed and they never got to look like the ones at the nursery.

      I too am very “educated” in the use of chemicals for the garden and farm. It is a requirement in my training. Can you cite actual specifics (numbers) on the upsurge in organic growing? It would be interesting to know these facts. I believe if people were more honest, they would be saying what they actually use in their gardens. Like I said in the post, I get to a lot of gardens. What they say and what they do are two different things completely. It may not quite be the upsurge in going natural that some think.

      There is not a “sneaky” way to get chemicals in the food source. It is well known the genetic manipulation to plants. It was actually heralded as a solution to hunger around the world. It is also well know what the neonicotinoid pesticides are doing to the birds and bees, but again, was developed to aid in hunger by providing crops that were resistant to insect damage, hence more production of food. Am I saying this is right? No. I believe there are far too many people in this world, but NOBODY is going to develop chemicals to thin us out. So what do we do, we make sure the growing population is fed.

      My main argument in the series of posts concerned what resulted from this assault on the NWF. Are they better off from it? I doubt it. It tarnished their goals and objectives just by people harshly saying what they did about them. Maybe they lost funding, maybe they lost contributions, maybe they lost supporters? I doubt it in any way helped them to get more. Working with Scotts was said to destroy the NWF, but was that not the possibility with the onslaught? I did not even list the worst of what was directed at them.

      Thank you for being one of the ones to have a natural approach to gardening. I wish more had your zeal and practices.

      • I will look into the stats on organics as I just saw something recently…I think in the long run NWF will rebound at least I hope. To tell you the truth I cannot remember the questions I asked but am sure they may not have been able to answer which is why I stepped back and was not accusatory or militant. I use organic fertilizers and try to grow most of my annuals from seed. Those I don’t I still use only organic sea weed or organic manure tea and they grow beautifully as well as using organic potting soil.

        You are certainly more educated than I am with regards to design, commercial and big residential customers and chemicals. It is hard but I hope we can all be a bit more discerning as to our impact. And I still proudly display my sign even though it wasn’t hard to get. 😉

        • Thanks. I always hear this anecdotally, but never see any numbers comparing it to previous estimates. I wonder too since the sixties when there was the organic/nature awareness movement beginning, have we as a population declined on both counts or improved? I really think that the prevalence of health issues and the loss of critical mass of insects (bees most noticeably) and animals (sick and dying poultry and pigs – from disease and giving it to us) will be the wake up call bringing change out of necessity. Too bad it has to be when it is too late.

  20. Barbra E. Stark says:

    So Scotts does what any good greenwashing corporation would do: spin itself as a company that really, really wants to change, loves songbirds, and only has the best interest of our kids at heart. Meanwhile, wildlife gardeners and environmentalists are left feeling betrayed by the National Wildlife Federation, an organization that many of us have long supported.

    • Well, that is marketing for you. They do it expertly and as I noted, they have the naive consumer base to prove it. I think the NWF was betrayed by their supporters though. The NWF could have been an influence and if they weren’t, then disband the partnership. It needed a chance. The programs were what was important, reaching a greater audience that needs reaching. I am surprised more readers did not have your opinion to this post though. It seemed the main opinion at that time to jump all over the NWF. I also think the most important thing an environmentalist can do is go after what is hardest to change. That of the minds so intrenched in chemical use for instance (among the multitude of issues bombarding our environment). Go to the source, those that produce the chemicals and be heard. The NWF was courageous in my book. They tried to get where the going is tough.

  21. blueskiesb says:

    I’ve recently started a wildlife conservation social enterprise in Cambridge. We look to further create connections between the academic/professional world with all of the organisation out in the field in order to increase the efficiency of applications of knowledge transfer to practical use. If your organisation is interested in being a part of this, or you know of others who may be, please get in contact – http://www.blueskiesc.co.uk

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