Longer-Lasting Produce Without Pesticides is the Future

The United States applies over 1 billion pounds of pesticides per year which doesn’t only harm humans but also causes harm to bees and birds, pollutes the air and damages water quality. That being said, without pesticides the fresh fruits and vegetables that are consumed daily would perish much quicker and production would plummet.

Scientist James Rogers, from Apeel Sciences, and his team have begun to introduce an alternative to pesticide use, allowing fruits and vegetables to double in lifespan. Rogers is revolutionizing ancient and all natural methods of  food preservation to keep fresh produce fresh longer and also keep bacteria and fungi away from produce in an environmentally friendly way.

Find out more: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/10/17/356723087/startups-new-sprays-promise-longer-lasting-fruit-fewer-pesticides

 

Massachusetts Food Waste Ban Gains Acceptance

 

On average, Americans throw out 20 pounds of food each month roughly totaling 34 million tons of food each year. The biggest culprits of food waste production are businesses, colleges and hospitals that are dumping their food waste into landfills all over the country.

 

In October of 2014, Massachusetts has put a law in place that says if you throw out more than a ton of food waste a month, it can’t go to a landfill. The food waste ban in Massachusetts brought a lot of questions, most important question being “where does the waste go?”

 

Composting companies are viewing this as an opportunity to gain new business with the ban. In Massachusetts, food waste is being trucked to farms or given to area composting companies. Boston’s own City Soil is taking this opportunity to blend together food waste, yard waste and manure to create a rich soil that can turn around and benefit local farmers and landscapers.

Farmer’s Almanac Predictions for this Winter

 

In what could be a bit of good news after the polar vortex last winter, the winter of 2014 and 2015 should have below-normal levels of snowfall. That’s according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac for our area. Also according to the Farmer’s Almanac, we will see near-normal precipitation in Massachusetts. It will, however, be much colder this winter, Farmer’s Almanac says, so don’t go putting away your heavy winter coat just yet.

 

Actual weather conditions obviously remain to be seen, but the Farmer’s Almanac says it has traditionally been 80 percent accurate in its weather forecasts.

 

Extreme weather will continue throughout the summer in most parts of the country, which is expected to be hot and dry, meaning California’s drought is expected to continue and delicate lawns won’t get much of a break.

 

Hurricane season is also expected to be particularly active and the Gulf Coast should brace for more big storms.

 

Does Bermuda Grass Have any Redeeming Qualities?

 

Bermuda grass, a so-called “noxious weed,” could be the answer to maintaining green lawns in some parts of the country grappling with drought.

 

A senior crew lead at the University of Utah, in fact, is calling for a lift on the nearly state-wide ban on Bermuda grass because he believes it holds the answer to the drought problem. That’s because Bermuda grass requires a lot less water than other grasses and thrives in areas where many other grasses do not.

 

However, per the Utah Department of Agriculture, Bermuda grass is far too aggressive and threatens other lawns and crops.

 

Bermuda grass is only allowed in one county in Utah because it specifically petitioned for an exemption.

 

In cooler climates, Bermuda grass is classified as more of a weed because other grasses can easily thrive, but warmer climates, like Southwestern states, have more problems with drought, which makes Bermuda grass more compelling to some.

 

Does Artificial Grass Cause Cancer?

 

A new report from NBC News points to a potential link between cancer and soccer players who play on artificial turf. In particular, it’s the black infill dots used in some synthetic turfs that are cause for concern, the report says.

 

The report cites a study from Washington State in which the incidence of cancer among goalies is higher because these players roll around in the turf more often than any other players. In addition, some artificial turf is made from old tires, which can sometimes have heavy metals, the report says.

 

There is, however, no scientific evidence to bolster this report and, according to national reports, it’s unlikely further research will be done by federal agencies.

 

Those concerned should either stick to real grass or have their artificial turf examined by experts. And, of course, any questions about lawns and lawn care can be directed to Noon Turf Care.

 

It’s Mow or Pay Up in Augusta, Georgia

 

The city of Augusta, Georgia does not like overgrown grass and some residents have learned that the hard way.

 

In fact, some property owners have received bills for clean-up without any advance notice of what the city planned to do – and then did. These owners simply saw charges on their property tax bills, but did not receive any information about the dates clean-up took place. And they are not happy about it.

 

According to the city, this method saves taxpayers money because the focus is on cleanup rather than notification.

 

Augusta’s Environmental Services department recently took over the maintenance of empty, overgrown lots from the city’s Code Enforcement department. Residential lots, however, remain under the purview of Code Enforcement.

 

A contractor now takes care of the empty lots and is apparently not required to give owners a 10-day notice of the work it plans to do. Property owners that don’t pay could face liens on their properties.

 

Turf Wars: Voters to Decide on Artificial Fields in San Francisco, New Jersey

“I don’t want my son playing on artificial turf,” said Edward Pertcheck, a San Francisco architect and active opponent in the battle to install four new artificial turf soccer fields in the city’s Golden Gate Park. Pertcheck, however, was not always in disagreement, but after further research, concluded that natural grass’ benefits beat those of artificial turf in nearly every category. Not only is the artificial turf thought to be linked with cancer, but it also requires maintenance and must be replaced every 10 years. Alternatively, there are those who support the effort. Conversation regarding the planned replacement of a natural grass field with artificial turf has also been rampant in Glen Rock, New Jersey. Michael Stewart, a Glen Rock resident and parent of two, openly supports the use of artificial turf expressing that “You have to go based on what the research already tells you. … There’s really no scientific basis for linking a cause to cancer with these fields — yet. It’s a reliable, more durable and in some cases it’s a much safer surface when it comes to physical injury”. The debate continues in both cities, but voters will have the final say on November 4 when the decision will be up to ballot results.

Sullivan’s ‘Rats’ Book to Be Turned into a Documentary Film

Sullivan’s ‘Rats’ Book to Be Turned into a Documentary Film

Distributors of the documentaries “Blackfish” and “The Cove”, Dakota group and Submarine Entertainment have announced their upcoming release of a documentary based on Robert Sullivan’s bestseller, “Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants”.  In addition to its producers David Koh, Stanley Buchenthal, and Josh and Dan Braun, Sullivan will also consult on the film in order to supply his extensive archive of research material that was not included in the book. “We have been obsessed and terrified by rats living in New York City over the years, and when we read Robert Sullivan’s book, we couldn’t put it down,” the producers said in a statement.  Production of this provocative film will begin early next year.

EPA Encourages Homeowners to Care for Their Septic Systems During SepticSmart Week

EPA Encourages Homeowners to Care for Their Septic Systems During SepticSmart Week

Release Date: 09/22/2014
Contact Information: Robert Daguillard, daguillard.robert@epa.gov, 202-564-6618

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold its second annual SepticSmart Week September 22-26. SepticSmart Week outreach activities encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. Nearly one-quarter of all American households depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. 

Failure to maintain septic system can lead to back-ups and overflows that pollute local waterways, create dead zones, raise water treatment costs and endanger human health. Pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal bacteria can enter ground and surface waters from septic systems. Such pollutants affect drinking water, lakes, rivers and estuaries. The algal blooms they may generate can produce toxins harmful to human, animals and marine life. 

Data collected by states attribute septic systems and other onsite wastewater treatment methods to water quality impairments in 22,909 miles of rivers and streams; 199,995 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds; and 72,320 acres of wetlands. By properly maintaining their septic systems, homeowners can help reduce these numbers. 

“When homeowners protect their septic systems, it’s good for their health, their neighbors’ health, and their pocketbooks,” said Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Water. “Not only is EPA directly educating homeowners on septic maintenance, but we are also coordinating with states and municipalities to do the same.”

During SepticSmart Week, EPA will provide homeowners with tips for septic maintenance, including:

· Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have their tank pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Many septic system failures occur during the winter holiday season. Therefore, EPA encourages homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now before licensed inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays.· Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
· Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems. 
· Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day — too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently. 
· Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.


EPA’s SepticSmart program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents. 

For more information, visit: www.epa.gov/septicsmart

NOFA MASS September Newsletter

The NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) MASS September 2014 Newsletter is not one to miss.  This issue will inform you on all the need-to-know news about the environment in which you live. Whether you are interested in learning about soil, grazing, and livestock resources, or simply want to know how you can get involved in local community happenings, the NOFA MASS newsletter is sure to teach you something. Refer to this month’s issue if you would like to learn more about how to get connected with the people and organizations that care about what is going on from the ground up, just like you do.

You can access the online newsletter by visiting: https://interactivepdf.uniflip.com/2/26870/298080/pub/