Pesticide Ban in Manitoba
The Manitoba government recently gave notice that it is leaning toward banning the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. We remain one of four provinces without such a regulation. So it appears likely that it is only a matter of time before Manitoba follows suit.
Of course, there will be opposition from chemical companies. Like tobacco companies before them, the chemical industry continues to argue that there are no conclusive, scientific studies that prove that such chemicals are harmful to human health. And they may have a point. But just like any person of average intelligence knew a few decades ago that inhaling smoke was not healthy, so it is becoming increasingly clear that exposure to industrial chemicals can be harmful, especially to young children. There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence to support such an assertion.
Many will charge that such a ban is a threat to individual freedom; another example of the government telling me what I cannot do! I concede that sometimes government regulations are unfair and favor only certain sectors of society while, at the same time, harming others. However, from my point of view, this coming regulation will benefit us all in the end with respect to what really matters.
Most of us have been used to the “Betty Crocker” approach to maintain our lawns and gardens in the past half century or so. (Do you have a problem? Reach for the latest chemical and spread it around!) So the move toward a chemical-free approach is almost unthinkable. But one should remember that there were lots of lawns and gardens around before the age of unlimited access to chemicals.
Moving toward chemical-free lawns and gardens is not a regressive step, as some charge. Even while chemical usage was mushrooming, various groups and individuals suspicious of this new trend were developing techniques for chemical-free gardening. They discovered things that even our grandparents didn’t know. So the coming ban on pesticides does not spell a cataclysmic end to lawns and gardens.
What is required, however, is a reorientation of our approach to lawns and gardens. No longer able to “spray and forget,” we will have to enter into a long-term relationship with our soil and our plants to ensure a better future.
I offer a few pointers to help us move in that direction. Reduce the size of your lawn. Spread compost and aerate your lawn regularly. Don’t insist on a “monoculture” lawn. Remember that a healthy lawn is the best defense against unwanted weeds. I know, because it works for me.
Similarly, in your garden, make generous use of compost, green manure and straw to create a vibrant soil and control weeds. Try companion planting and crop rotation. Reduce the size of your garden by making use of raised beds and vertical gardening techniques. And finally, don’t be afraid of getting some exercise in your garden.
In light of the coming ban on pesticides, it is fair to say that the best is yet to come!
This post was prepared by Jack Heppner of the South Eastman Transition Initiative.