In June, 2012 a local screening of “A Chemical Reaction” spawned the creation of Safe Lawns in Door County, a coalition of organizations and unaffiliated individuals, concerned about the vulnerability of our water supply, placed in jeopardy by lawn pesticides.
A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that an estimated 78 million pounds of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides are applied by homeowners on lawns, gardens and in homes. It is estimated that seven million birds die each year because of exposure to lawn pesticides. This past winter, beekeepers are reporting bee die-offs of more than 50 percent – the worst loss in more than 40 years!
As spring slowly emerges Greens N Grains and the Green Door Film Society wish to focus on a timely and important issue here in Door County where an average depth of 18 inches of top soil at most, protects our water supply from toxic runoff. The porous limestone beneath offers little protection for the valuable aquifer below from which we pump our drinking water. Melting snow and summer rains can permeate these layers and reach the groundwater in a matter of hours, delivering a toxic cargo of whatever it is that we spray onto the soil above.
The documentary, “A Chemical Reaction” screening at Greens N Grains on April 4 at 7 pm takes a close look at the effects of this love affair we have cultured for a green carpet of turf grass, at any cost.
“A thick green, monotypic carpeted yard is not a naturally occurring event,” says Marne Kaeske, Stewardship Coordinator for The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor. ”Pesticides – toxic substances designed to repel, control and kill unwanted guests – play a major role in the age-old quest for lawns that resemble fairways.”
“A Chemical Reaction,” is a 70-minute feature documentary that tells the story of one of the most powerful and effective community initiatives in the history of North America. It started with one lone voice in 1984. Dr. June Irwin, a dermatologist, noticed a connection between her patients’ health conditions and their exposure to chemical pesticides and herbicides. With relentless persistence she brought her concerns to town meetings to warn her fellow citizens that the chemicals they were putting on their lawns posed severe health risks and had unknown side effects on the environment.
Dr. Irwin’s persuasive arguments and data to back her findings eventually led the town of Hudson to enact a by-law that banned the use of all chemical pesticides and herbicides. The most mighty chemical companies in North America put their full legal weight on the tiny town and eventually the case made it to the Supreme Court.
The town’s right to protect its citizens was upheld, and — like a row of dominoes — other municipalities followed suit. The movement spread so far and wide that the entire province of Quebec enacted a ban and Home Depot stopped putting the dangerous pesticide products on their shelves.
Director: Brett Plymale
“In making this movie, I’ve been told hundreds of anecdotal stories about sick children and pets,” says film director Brett Plymale. “I’ve heard from some adults that claim these chemicals have resulted in serious illness or even death. I have interviewed many credible doctors, veterinarians and scientists who all agree that the chemicals found in these lawn care products are dangerous, and in some cases they are known carcinogens. They also agree that the effects on the human body are largely unknown and are nearly impossible to isolate and prove scientifically.”
Paul Tukey, featured in the film, is one of the nation’s leading experts on organic lawn care and has been following this story for years. After becoming seriously ill with acute pesticide sensitivity from applying chemical lawn products in his own lawn care business, he became an outspoken advocate for alternatives to chemical lawn care. He travels across the country lecturing on the subject and has written the nation’s leading book on organic lawn care titled, The Organic Lawn Care Manual.
This documentary follows his journey, one that leads to the doorstep of Hudson, Quebec. It’s an inspiring story of overcoming great odds and demonstrates the power of people coming together to effect great change in our society.
Greens N Grains Cafe offers a natural and organic dinner special each evening before the Film Society screening. Enjoy a delicious soup specialty, salad, a fresh baked roll and a cup of tea for $7.50, available from 6 pm on. The Film Society screenings take place at 7 pm and there is no charge for membership but seating at screenings is limited to 28 people. Dinner and film reservations are requested. RSVP by calling 920.868.9999 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greens N Grains Cafe is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm, except on movie nights when they remain open until 9 pm. The Natural Food Store is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm, located in downtown Egg Harbor at 7821 Hwy 42.