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South Orange Parks Designated 'Pesticide Free Zones'

Local officials and representatives from the NJ Environmental Foundation gathered at the duck pond on Thursday afternoon to mark the occasion.

South Orange Trustees will vote to officially designate the Village's parks and playgrounds as "Pesticide Free Zones" at an April 12 meeting, though 38-year Department of Public Works employee Tom Michetti says he can't recall pesticides ever being used here.

Representatives from the NJ Environmental Federation joined Village President Doug Newman, Trustee Janine Bauer, Village Engineer Sal Renda and members of the Village's Environmental Commission by the duck pond on Thursday afternoon to commemorate the designation. A ladybug emblem representing the "pesticide-free" status of Village parks was affixed to a lamppost near the bocce courts.

Newman observed that South Orange has been environmentally progressive of late and was one of 34 communities to receive Sustainable Jersey certification. He also noted that the new community garden, set to open on April 17, will be organic at the behest of its members.

Bauer said she hoped that the Village policy would encourage individual homeowners to stop using pesticides, which has implications on the quality of drinking water. The Village has a well in Grove Park that provides potable water, and the Rahway River feeds into the water supply for communities like Elizabeth. "The things people put in their lawns they may wind up drinking in a year or so," she said.

According to Eric Benson of the NJ Environmental Foundation, it became state-wide policy for school districts to use integrated pest management—which calls for the management of insects, undesired plants and plant diseases with tools less likely to impact human health or the environment—instead of pesticides in the 2003-2004 school year.

South Orange will join Irvington and Newark in Essex County and a total of 32 other communities in the state with designated Pesticide Free Zones in parks.

Non-toxic lawn care tips and "Pesticide Free Zone" ladybug logo yard signs are available by clicking here.

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