City eliminates the use of pesticides and chemicals from Providence Parks and greenspaces and encourages community members to take the Pesticide Free PVD pledge
April 22, 2021
Providence, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined City Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7), Parks Superintendent Wendy Nilsson, Sustainability Director Leah Bamberger, Audubon Society of Rhode Island Senior Director of Policy Meg Kerr, Partnership for Providence Parks Executive Director Helene Miller, and community members at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center to launch the Pesticide Free PVD campaign and celebrate Earth Day.
“Earth Day serves to remind us all of our shared responsibility to sustain and help grow our natural resources for the benefit of our community and future generations,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “I’m proud of the hard work our Parks Department has undertaken to eliminate the use of chemicals in almost all instances in our Parks and greenspaces. This is not only great for the environment, but it means our children can play safely in these spaces without the risk of being exposed to harmful toxins.”
Pesticide Free PVD encourages community members, property owners, and businesses to commit to eliminating the use of harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers in lawns and gardens, as well as other toxins in the home. Going pesticide-free is one of many ways the City is encouraging residents to celebrate Earth Day. The Parks Department and Partnership for Providence Parks will also launch an Earth Day Bingo game to encourage families to get outside, enjoy our parks, and take part in being good stewards of our environment. Community members can find their local park by using the City’s Park Locator and Park Stories Map.
The Providence Parks Department is leading by example, having eliminated nearly all pesticides and herbicides from City parks and playgrounds, according to a report released today by the City and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. The Roger Williams Park Botanical Center is an excellent example of the success of a pesticide-free policy, leveraging strategies like beneficial insects inside the center and housing three goats that provide weed control throughout Roger Williams Park. The report includes recommendations and best practices for others looking to enhance their land management practices and reduce the use of chemicals in their maintenance.
“I am so proud of the steps our team at the Parks Department has taken towards a chemical-free future and thank our partners at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island for documenting those practices so that we can institutionalize and expand them,” said Wendy Nilsson, Providence Parks Superintendent. “Our urban parks have been a respite amid the pandemic and it’s so important that toxins are not a risk to users of those parks – I’m thinking about our children that play in our parks, the pets, birds, bees and other wildlife that visit our parks, as well as the fairies that have joined us for Fairy Garden Days. Visit your local park, visit the Botanical Center for Fairy Garden Days and take the pledge to protect your own ecosystems from toxins too.”
The Pesticide Free PVD campaign and the report on the chemical-free practices in Providence Parks were supported by a grant and partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). In 2018, the City of Providence and partner Clean Water Action Rhode Island joined the third cohort of HBBF’s Bright Cities program to take actions that can significantly reduce chemical exposures throughout the City. Encouraging Providence residents and organizations to go pesticide-free reduces exposures to neurotoxic chemicals and protects human health, pollinators, waterways, and many other aspects of a healthy ecosystem.
By taking the pledge to go pesticide-free, residents and organizations can receive a free Pesticide Free yard sign and the Top 10 Tips for a Pesticide Free Lawn & Garden. The website, sustainpvd.com/pesticidefree, offers resources to help people shift away from harmful chemicals, from information about health impacts and pesticide-free lawn care to trainings and resources. Leaders across the City have already shared their commitment to reducing and eliminating chemicals, including West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, Providence College, Armory Management Company and Blackstone Parks Conservancy.
“The chemicals found in many lawn and garden products, pest management products, and household cleaners are linked to neurotoxicity, birth defects, cancer, and other health effects with longstanding impacts,” said Leah Bamberger, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “We hope this campaign can raise awareness of the health and ecological implications of these products and encourage residents and property managers to make the switch to low- and no-cost alternatives.”
This Earth Day, with COVID still at the forefront of planning, the City is shifting from large clean-ups and major projects to encouraging community members to play, relax and explore our parks. Individuals, families, pods, and bubbles are invited to accept a series of challenges to explore different parks or participate in a new activity at their convenience. Complete an Earth Day Bingo, send it in and win prizes like Roger Williams Park Zoo passes, seeds for your garden and more! For more information and to download the Earth Day Bingo Card, visit providenceri.gov/celebrate-earth-day-arbor-day-2021/.