Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nine Planetary Boundaries

NewScientist Magazine recently reported on a study which looked at proposed threats to our world.  We have all heard about climate change, but what about other environmental problems like acidifying oceans and dead zones in the sea?  At what point have we crossed the threshold of no return?  How long can we as humans operate before destroying our world?
A team of scientists came up with nine “planetary life-support systems” that are vital to a healthy Earth, which in turn means human survival.  These include:
Rate of Biodiversity Loss
Climate Change
Nitrogen Cycle
Phosphorus Cycle
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
Atmospheric Aerosol Loading
Chemical Pollution
Ocean Acidification
Fresh Water Use
Change in Land Use
And guess what…we have already overstepped three (rate of biodiversity loss, climate change, and nitrogen cycle) of these boundaries!  However, this doesn’t mean that we’re doomed.  Back in the 70’s we realized the serious damage that we were doing to the ozone layer and it's now at a safe level. 

The first step is recognizing the problem. Please take the time to read this article and pass it on.  For the full NewScientist article, visit
To read the full study, check out

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Environmental Quality in Connecticut

The Council on Environmental Quality is a nine-member board that was created 40 years ago to:
  • Assess the condition of Connecticut's environment and report its findings annually to the Governor, and recommend actions to improve state environmental programs. 
  • Advise other state agencies on the environmental impacts of proposed construction projects. 
  • Investigate citizens' complaints and allegations of violations of environmental law
 They recently released their annual report, Environmental Quality in Connecticut, which reports the 2010 trends for:
Farm, Forest and Wetland
Sound and Shore
Rivers and Reservoirs
Human Health
Personal Impact

One of the interesting findings is that at the current rate, Connecticut will not be able to reach its goal of preserving farmland in the state until the 22nd century! Below is a brief summary excerpt of the report's findings. To read the full report, please visit

Improved or Held Steady at a Positive Level in 2010:
  • Drinking Water Quality
  • Oxygen Levels in Long Island Sound
  • Clean Shellfish Beds
  • Bald Eagles & Piping Plovers
  • Inland Wetlands
What these improvements have in common:  They are the results of effective regulatory programs and modest public capital investments.
Declined or Held Steady at a Level Insufficient to Meet Goals:
  • Beach Closings
  • Forest, Field, and Farm Conservation
  • Lobsters
  • Sewage-free Rivers
  • Days of Unhealthful Air 
What these deficiencies have in common: Most will require substantial public capital investment or, in some cases, improved strategies before goals will be met.
Trends in Personal Impact indicators:
  • Connecticut residents used electricity more efficiently at work but wasted more at home. Future electric bills might not improve: most of the refrigerators and air conditioners bought in Connecticut were not the most efficient models.
  • Residents again took the bus less often, but they also drove less.
  • Compliance with environmental laws remained below 90 percent for the second year in a row.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update to CT NOFA Fundraiser

Peonies, Wine and Jazz
A Fundraiser for CT NOFA
Friday, May 20th, 2011
6:00pm - 8:00pm

670 Walnut Hill Road
Thomaston, CT

Peonies: Cricket Hill Garden is home to some of the most beautiful peonies in the country. You will be free to explore their seven-acre garden.
Wine: You'll be able to taste wine from a local vineyard, along with other organic and bio-intensive wines.
Jazz: Listen to the music of the Jake Habegger Jazz Quartet (seen below)

Also on exhibit will be art from renowned local artist Dorie Petrochko!

Space is limited for this elegant evening so you will want to book tickets quickly. Please call the CT NOFA office (203-888-5146) or online. Members -$50 and Not yet members - $65.  

Keep checking this site for updates -

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pollen LLC - Urban Farming & Beekeeping

Bees are our friends – just ask Ben and Rachel at Pollen LLC.  They specialize in promoting beekeeping, gardening and farming in urban spaces.  Pollen “works to create solutions for sustainable living by installing and managing all aspects of small scale food production and waste reduction”.  Right on!

Their services include:
Creating gardens that fit your space with a focus on managing pests.  They’ll even harvest your crops if needed!
Building custom chicken coops, along with sourcing a variety of breeds.
Installing backyard beehives, including providing source packages of bees, building custom equipment, and extracting honey.

They even held a homebrewing workshop a few months back! 

Now’s the time to put your order in so be sure to visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CT Farm Fresh Express

How many of you order your groceries online? It’s okay, you can admit it!  Well, here’s a great to have the same type of service while buying local products!  CT Farm Fresh Express is a year round service that delivers locally grown produce in Connecticut.
Deb Marsden, owner and founder has been in business for over 3 years now.   In this short amount of time, she now works with over 50 farms in CT, along with local bakeries, bread and truffle companies, and many other artisans.  You can choose what you want and when you want it, all over the internet. 
Isn’t it about time you go local and organic? :)

For more on CT Farm Fresh Express, visit
To  start ordering, visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Warning: Some Garden Mulches Now Contain Pesticides

Do you really read labels before being products?  Be sure to read the notice below.  It will make you think twice before picking up a bag of mulch without reading what’s in the bag.

The following information was provided by Nancy Alderman, President of Environmental and Human Health, Inc.
There are now some garden mulches being sold that contain an herbicide. The herbicide is trifluralin and is sold under the name “Preen Mulch Plus."   Preen is manufactured by Lebanon Seaboard Corporation in Lebanon Pa.   One cannot be too careful when buying garden mulch these days.  There is no end to industries’ inventiveness.

The fact sheet on Trifluralin is as follows:
Trifluralin is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Group C, possible human carcinogen(21). In a two-year study of rats fed 325 mg/kg per day, malignant tumours developed in the kidneys, bladder and thyroid(22). Because there is a possible increase in the risk of cancer to humans, the EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory level for trifluralin in drinking water of 5 micrograms per litre includes an additional safety margin(23).
A concern about the carcinogenicity risk of occupational exposure to trifluralin is also acknowledged by the US EPA, with the stipulation that workers, particularly mixers, loaders, and applicators, should use personal protective equipment including coveralls, chemical-resistant gloves, shoes and socks. Post-application,
workers should observe a 12 hour Restricted Entry Interval(24), a condition which is unlikely to be communicated or observed in developing countries.

Endocrine-disrupting effects
Trifluralin is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to both the UK Environment Agency and the World Wide Fund for Nature(25). These chemicals have adverse, 'gender-bender' effects by interfering with the body's hormones, or chemical messengers, and are active at even miniscule levels (see PAN UK briefing No.2 Mixed messages: pesticides that confuse hormones).

Reproductive effects
Loss of appetite and weight loss followed by miscarriages were observed when pregnant rats were fed 224 or 500 mg/kg per day. Foetal weight decreased and there was an increase in the number of foetal runts at 500 mg/kg per day dosage(26).

Fate in the environment
The persistence of trifluralin in agricultural soils following incorporation is highly variable, depending on several factors including depth of incorporation, soil moisture and temperature. Its persistence is categorized as 'moderate' to 'persistent'(27).  Several field dissipation studies in northern latitudes in Canada
 indicated half-lives ranging from 126 to 190 days(28)

The mulch also contains a second herbicide, Isoxaben.  On the label, you’ll read:
·         Highly toxic to fish
·         Not for use on any plants that will produce food in the next year.
·         Keep out of reach of children.

Any reactions after reading this?

Monday, April 18, 2011

European Nitrogen Assessment

The European Nitrogen Assessment (ENA) recently concluded that farmers should be reducing their use of fertilizers.  ENA was developed (with the help of 200 experts from 21 countries and 89 organizations) from research by the European Science Foundation’s NinE (or Nitrogen in European) program.  The NinE program addresses the 9 interacting problems affecting excess nitrogen in the environment – check out the photo below and read up on this issue at

Dr. Mark Sutton, lead editor of the ENA, concluded: “Nearly half the world’s population depends on synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizer for food but measures are needed to reduce the impacts of nitrogen pollution”.  The study reports nitrogen causes hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in Europe every year, or roughly $1,000 for each (yes, each!) person in Europe!
So what can you do?  Grow organically, demand local and organic produce, and treat your lawns with strictly organic practices.  Want to find an organic landscaper?  You can search for NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals here -
            To find out more about the ENA and to read the assessment, visit

            Be sure to watch this short video – it helps explain the problem and provides some suggestions on how we can all reduce nitrogen pollution.