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The Great Westchester Healthy Yard Project

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Lawns and gardens may be under two feet of snow but it’s time to start planning for spring. Bedford resident Dr. Diane Lewis has some important advice.
Lewis is the author of The Great Healthy Yard Project: Our Yards, Our Children, Our Responsibility, which takes a comprehensive look at some hazardous synthetic pesticides, weedkillers, and conventional fertilizers that we continue to use on our lawns and gardens.
Lewis documents the ways in which they are polluting our drinking water and affecting family health, and, most importantly, she shows what we can do to turn things around.

Dr. Lewis has been invited to speak before the Westchester County Board of Legislators  committees on Energy and the Environment and Parks in early March and hopes to re-ignite a county-wide focus on this issue. ( See her video presentation.)
On Tuesday, March 10, at 10 AM, Lewis will speak at the Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont where she will talk about her book and her non-profit advocacy group and website  launched last year to encourage people to pledge to care for their yards without synthetic chemicals.  Sheldrake is partnering with the project to encourage local residents to take the pledge.
On the website, you can take the pledge as follows:
“I pledge to take care of my yard without synthetic pesticides, weedkillers and fertilizers except on rare occasions to resolve an infestation or to improve habitat for native plants and wildlife. I also pledge not to throw pharmaceuticals or chemicals down my drains or toilets.”
The towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge already have passed resolutions supporting the project. Bedford has about 4,400 acres pledged so far, about 18% of the town. They are aiming for 60% by 2020.

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Diane Lewis M.D. founder of the Great Healthy Yard Project
The website provides a way to quantify the actions of local residents– a feature of the project that is new and unique, given that the science and expert opinion on these issues have been well accepted for decades, going back to the passage of the Clean Water Act 43 years ago.
In fact, after numerous studies  documented the dangers of lawn and garden chemical runoff, Westchester County and New York State passed regulations back in 2010 to limit the amount of fertilizers and pesticides in our waterways and drinking water. (See our previous coverage.)

Lewis currently chairs the Water and Land Use Task Force for the nonprofit organization Bedford 2020 and is a member of the Rachel Carson Awards Council for Audubon Women in Conservation. She is a kidney specialist by training and is active on several Bedford town boards and committees.

 Images courtesy The Great Healthy Yard Project




Joyce Newman
Joyce Newmanhttps://joycehnewman.wordpress.com/
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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