Achieving Long-Term Pesticide Reduction across Greater Chicago

MGG’s Ryan Anderson previews Chicago Grows Green Week and its theme of “Growing Pesticide-Free Lawns & Gardens for the Long-Term”

You “have to bring something to the party” when motivating park districts, schools or individuals to eliminate their lawn pesticide use as Healthy Communities Project (HCP) founder and Midwest Grows Green (MGG) friend Amy Joyce would say

“We’ve held firm to our belief that we would not just complain about pesticide use, but would focus on bringing sound solutions to the table through proper turf management training,” Amy explained regarding HCP’s approach to motivating the City of Whitefish Bay in Wisconsin to manage three pesticide-free parks.

Most pesticide elimination policies do not happen overnight.  They require continual community engagement, staff training, recordkeeping, long-term planning and improvement to achieve success and remain effective in future years. While seemingly cumbersome, MGG has learned and tracked many successful efforts from advocates and practitioners like Amy Joyce. We will share these lessons to both Greater Chicago residents and the entire Midwest during our upcoming Chicago Grows Green Week (CGG Week).

We kickoff the week on June 1st and June 2nd in the southeastern suburb of Riverdale and the western suburb of Lisle, respectively. Riverdale Park District has managed their parks pesticide-free for many years and plans to install a low-input eco-lawn at Cooper Park. Meanwhile, Lisle Park District will pilot four organic parks of Leask Lane, Abbeywoods Pond, Connelly and Oak Hill.  Each district can manage their properties pesticide-free by increasing cultural controls of core aeration, overseeding and mowing high.  Both districts will host a CGG Week Kickoff event that will demonstrate these essential cultural controls through a series of interactive games.  Visit to register for Riverdale’s demonstration at Riverdale Park and for Lisle’s event at Leask Lane Park. 

During the weekdays, CGG Week features communities that have enacted detailed plans to reduce outdoor pesticide use in the long-term.  The highlight over the workdays is our MGG Lawn & Land ForumBuilding Capacity” webinar that offers a unique look into the stakeholders to engage and messages to share to pass a comprehensive natural lawn care policy. Over two years, Midwest Grows Green and Go Green Park Ridge engaged the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 on the issue of natural lawn care. This year we helped the district break its contract with TruGreen and manage all grounds in-house. We believe this action by District 64 is unique and other communities interested in reducing lawn pesticides can learn a great deal from this project. Go Green Park Ridge’s Amy Bartucci will join myself on Monday, June 3rd at noon as we cover the many meetings we held and attended, the recommendations we provided and the ultimate actions taken by District 64 to break their contract and manage all grounds pesticide-free.  Register for FREE at

Finally, we celebrate all the achievements covered by CGG Week and the successes to come during our CGG Week Celebration & Fundraiser at Dig Right In Landscaping, Inc’s warehouse.   Organizations such as the Deep Roots Project, River Forest Sustainability Commission and Go Green Brookfield will share their sustainable landscaping progress alongside Midwest Grows Green.  You can, also, beautify your yard with native plants sold by Natural, Communities, Native Plants or kick-start your lawn and garden with Dig Right In Compost Tea100% of compost tea sales will go towards MGG projects in 2019, while 10% of proceeds from native plants will go to MGG if pre-ordered at before May 19th.  Register for this event at

Our CGG Week events should provide a full overview of both organic gardening and/or natural lawn care. However, the MGG Pledge offers one more resource if you feel unprepared to transition to organic land care after this week. Each month we share the latest updates, information and resources regarding natural lawn care and organic gardening. Thank you and I hope to see you in early June!

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