Ban Use of Pre-Emergent Herbicides at Rutherford Community Garden and Nursery
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The Shade Tree Commission of Rutherford, in its meeting of May 3, 2017, voted to use a chemical pre-emergent herbicide, Trifluralin, on the former tree nursery (corner of Erie and Jackson Avenues), rather than the less environmentally toxic alternatives of either installing sod and creating a field, or putting down a weed barrier and wood chips. Trifluralin is classified by the EPA as a possibly carcinogen, and banned elsewhere due to the toxicity to aquatic life. The former tree nursery is adjacent to and uphill from the organic community garden and to Katie’s Corner, a playground for young children. We petition the Rutherford Borough Council to ban the use of toxic chemical herbicides and pesticides in this sensitive area when safer alternatives are available.
The Community Garden is an organic, sustainable teaching garden, used by Rutherford residents, school students and Scout troops. A soil analysis was conducted in 2011, using $7,500 of grant funds, to ensure that growing produce there would be safe. Use of Trifluralin next to the garden will render that soil analysis useless. Katie’s Corner is a playground with equipment target to toddlers and preschoolers. Children’s smaller bodies are more affected by chemicals in our environment than adults, and may be more susceptible to Trifluralin residue. Run off from the lot may also enter into the sewers on Erie Avenue, which drains directly into the Passaic River, and Trifluralin has been banned in Europe due to demonstrated toxicity.
Safer alternatives exist. The lot where the Tree Nursery was has been completely cleared. Weed barrier and wood chips as mulch could be installed just as easily as Trifluralin could be administered, so this option would not create additional work for the Department of Public Works. The Shade Tree Commission has already agreed to use a mixture of vinegar/Epsom salts/dishwashing liquid for any weeds that emerge after application of an herbicide or weed barrier. This mixture uses common household ingredients and is non-toxic to humans and animals. We applaud the Shade Tree Commission’s use of this safer alternative, and encourage further sustainable efforts.
The decision to use Trifluralin was taken at a special meeting of the Shade Tree Commission. Since the herbicide may be applied before the next public Shade Tree Commission meeting, we must voice our concerns via this petition that we will present to the Council at their next public meeting this monday May 8th at 7pm.
We ask that the Borough Council respond to the concerns of the Rutherford community by banning the use of Trifluralin and other herbicides classified as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, or possibly carcinogenic by the EPA and to use other effective, safer alternatives that exist.
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