TAKE ACTION: Make Dover Green Again!

In 2018 the city council voted unanimously for a Commitment to Organic Land Management Practices resolution. Currently we have only ONE organic turf site. Let’s make sure all 23 acres are in accord with our Commitment to Organic Land Management resolution next season! Find more details here.

 

 TAKE ACTION TO MAKE DOVER FULLY ORGANIC!

Here is a sample email that you can send easily using the form below. Just copy and paste the text into the comment box. Please feel free to personalize, and let the council know why this is important to you.

Dear City Council,

I am a Dover resident and the health of our soil, water and future generations are important to me. I believe that this is a worthy investment and would like to ask you to please allocate funds to cover the cost of implementing an organic turf program on all city property next spring.

Sincerely,

Your Name

 

 

 

MakeDoverGreenAgain

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New PHS Synthetic Field Test Results Don’t Prove Reassuring

Back in February, a letter was sent to Portsmouth officials to inform them of a serious discrepancy in the reporting of hardness safety testing results for Tom Daubney Field at Portsmouth High School.

As a result, a re-test was done on March 14th. This testing was commissioned by the manufacturer, FieldTurf. PHS Gmax Re-Test 2019-03-14

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 5.56.59 PM

An upper limit of 200 (F355 scale) is being used as the cutoff, but as addressed before, the Synthetic Turf Council recommends a more protective limit of below 165 Gmax using the F355 scale. The NFL uses a different testing tool (Clegg) with a lower scale and sets their limit at about 100 Gmax and test prior to each game. 135 Clegg = 200 F355.

Natural grass fields typically measure 42 Clegg or 85 F355 units.

Portsmouth School District is taking risks with the safety of the players using the synthetic turf field when they use the 200 upper limit set by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. “The 200 G-MAX level set by the CPSC is intended only to protect field owners from civil liability should horrible injury occur,” according to the STMA.

There is very good reason to question the validity of the upper Gmax limit of 200 in light of advances in research on injury prevention.

The report also averages the numbers. All points on the field must be below the limit, not an average. Children do not fall and hit their heads on averages.

The hardest point measured on the field is the more commonly used, and more protective upper limit of 165. Had this field been installed at the University of New Hampshire it would have been removed and replaced years ago, the same if it were an NFL field. They both keep field hardness below 165.

Listen to the testimony of Dr. Greg Guyton, orthopedic surgeon to NFL Ravens, regarding safety and playing on post-warranty fields like the one at PHS.  Begin at 1 hour 6 minutes of the video for his 2 minute testimony.

This video on Gmax testing also explains why the 200 cutoff is not adequate, and a result of 165 still needs to be remediated.

Are the brains and bodies of Portsmouth High School athletes deserving of lesser protections than college students and professional athletes?

 

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2019 Turf Applications – Good News and Bad News

First the good news:

This year we have one true organic site at Woodman Park School ball field.

The rest of the turf sites are still being managed conventionally, but lucky for us the program outlined in the bid proposal has changed from what was used last year. Presumably because of public pressure, the vendor has switched to different products this year.

Sewage sludge (biosolids) are not being used, and the pre-emergent and three way herbicides from last year are also being replaced. The grub control (Acelepryn) will remain the same.

CityHallLawnSign6:13:18

June 2018 2,4-D, dicamba, dithiopyr, MCPA, chlorantraniliprole, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizer etc. at city hall.

GreenGrassSignNotice6:5:19

2019 application of Acelepryn, active ingredient chlorantraniliprole, synthetic urea fertilizer and natural based fertilizer and amendments, TCS GrowStar 46-0-0, Turf Fuel Xchange, Sustane Bolster.

Facilities and grounds informed us that the weed control product used will be mesotrione, brand name Tenacity.

Now for the bad news: While this is all an improvement over last year’s applications, it’s not even close to the organic program at Woodman Park which used for their first application all organic fertilizers and amendments on May 16th. PJC ProHealthy Turf 6-0-6 fertilizer (soybean meal based), PJC ProHealthy Turf Charge-S3 soil amendment (bio char, blood meal, molasses, kelp, alfalfa and soybean meal) and overseeding.

There’s more bad news.

This is a product swap program, it is still a conventional program and will ultimately prove largely ineffective at improving soil quality, and solving weed and grub problems for good if it is allowed to continue.

None of the products are OMRI listed or 25 b exempt minimum risk as specified in the city resolution, and there is still synthetic fertilizer being used.

More good news: We can do better! 

Ask the city council to delegate the proper funds for a fully organic program on all city property.

Here is a sample email that you can send:

Subject: Please Fund Our Organic Turf Program

Dear City Council,

I am a Dover resident and the health of our soil, water and future generations are important to me. I believe that this is a worthy investment and would like to ask you to please allocate funds to cover the cost of implementing an organic turf program on all city property next spring.

Sincerely,

Your Name

TAKE ACTION: email the City Council today!

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ACTION ALERT: Ask City Council to Budget for Organic

Despite passing an organic policy in 2018, with the exception of the Stonyfield PlayFree initiative organic site at Woodman Park School, for the second year in a row Dover has chosen to go with a conventional program using toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizer and sewage sludge on public turf areas. This includes:

☠️ City Hall – 288 Central Avenue
☠️ Public Library – 73 Locust Street
☠️ Upper Henry Law Park – corner of Washington Street and Henry Law Avenue
☠️ Lower Henry Law Park – Pool Parking Lot to River St
☠️ Upper Square – (3) islands on Central Avenue between 2 and 3 Streets
☠️ Shaw’s Lane Athletic Fields – intersection of Back River Road / Garrison Road and off Shaw’s Lane
a. 2 softball fields
b. 3 full size soccer fields
c. 1 practice soccer / multi-purpose field
☠️ McConnell Center, 61 Locust St
☠️ Maglaras Park 2 ball field on Henry Law
a – Guppy Park ball field Portland Ave
b – Point Place, Applevale Ball Park
☠️ Sullivan Dr Ball Field
☠️ Longhill Multi Purpose field
☠️ Garrison park ball field
☠️ North End Fire Station 262 Sixth St

The reason for this is that our “budget” for turf services has historically been choosing the cheapest bid. In fact, what we spend on mowing services just for the athletic fields is twice as much as what we spend on turf services. This has no rhyme or reason.

This isn’t an ideal way to go about things, and now that we have an organic policy it’s well past time that the city implement it. This requires an initial investment, and it’s one that can be adjusted by the expert consultant we are working with so we don’t break the bank.

Organic is cost effective, and costs less over time, but the cost up front will be more than we have been used to paying.

What that extra cost will end up being will depend on the program for next year, soil and field conditions and how the bid is written.

For instance, the bid put out this spring was separated by sites. This means that when the organic vendor bid on it they needed to price it as if they were coming out only to do each individual site. The prices were more than if they were to have been awarded all of the sites together. This is because they needed to be sure they were able to pay the subcontractors doing the work as each was coming from a distance. They ended up being awarded the Woodman Park site, and so the bid was appropriate for that. However if they had been awarded all of them, then we would not have necessarily been invoiced for the total amount of all those mini-bids together.

These details can be worked out by the city, our expert consultant, and the vendor.

In order to stop violating the policy and start implementing our organic program next spring, Dover residents will need to ask the City Council to direct the City Manager to allocate the necessary funds to get started.

☎️ TAKE ACTION: call the city Council today 

Mayor Weston
Tel: (603) 743-6894

Deputy Mayor Carrier
Tel: (603) 396-0204

Lindsey Williams
City Councilor, At-Large
Tel: (603) 534-2119

Michelle Muffett-Lipinski
City Councilor, Ward 1
Tel: (603) 842-0029

Dennis Ciotti
City Councilor, Ward 2
Tel: (603) 817-3135

Deborah Thibodeaux
City Councilor, Ward 3
Tel: (603) 988-1736

Marcia Gasses
City Councilor, Ward 4
Tel: (603) 534-2723

Dennis Shanahan
City Councilor, Ward 5
Tel: (603) 534-3750

Matthew Keane
Role: City Councilor, Ward 6
Tel: (603) 534-7829

Here is a sample email that you can send:

Subject: Please Fund Our Organic Turf Program

Dear City Council,

I am a Dover resident and the health of our soil, water and future generations are important to me. I believe that this is a worthy investment and would like to ask you to please allocate funds to cover the cost of implementing an organic turf program on all city property next spring.

Sincerely,

Your Name

TAKE ACTION: email the City Council today!

 

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Dover School District Continues to Violate Policy

Back on May 13th at the regular school board meeting, C&W Services Operations Manager addressed the board about the concerns we have brought forth regarding the district athletic field maintenance.

  • both school district and city policy are being violated by the use of blanket applications of a conventional grub control product called Acelepryn. Also concerning is the use of phosphorous.
  • cost of this fake organic program was double the price of bids submitted through the city by organic accredited vendors in 2018, and this year is now triple the cost.

A letter was submitted as part of the agenda materials (see page 19). Despite all the excuses, the school district policy and city policy are being violated and the program for the athletic fields is not organic. This is conceded at the beginning where it is stated that their turf maintenance has “migrated close to a 100% organic program in 2019.” The program does not follow NOFA Standards for organic land care, end of story there.

Regarding grubs, there is a lot of talk of catastrophic grub damage that will occur unless they can apply their grub control product each year in perpetuity. This is simply not realistic. Monitoring for grubs and applying a biological control when indicated is the strategy outlined in Dover’s bid, and similar organic practices are being utilized by other local municipalities like Marblehead and Springfield Massachusetts. They are just as likely to have grub issues as we are. Both have managed their fields organically for many years without issue.

Thanks to C&W’s letter, it is now clear why they had a grub problem in 2011, and why the “organic” applications failed. The company used that year is not an organic company despite their name and they are not accredited in organic land care. They practice what is known as a product swap approach. This means they swap in organic product applications instead of conventional ones. This is an ineffective and not a true organic soil based approach. It is no great surprise that their program failed. And it now becomes clear why they are so worried about grubs returning and wreaking havoc.

We have expert help available from Osborne Organics to deal with these issues and concerns that come up through the Stonyfield grant program. We get free unlimited technical assistance that the District management company is not taking advantage of. Earlier this spring they did have a meeting with the organic expert, but they have no intention of working with him to adjust their program to be in line with policy and organic standards. The Facilities Director stated to us in an email that “As for further meetings with Chip we have none scheduled at this time,” and “As for now we have no intent to change our relationship with Boston company as our primary turf care company on the CW side.”

As far as cost, the “close to 100% organic” program is still quite expensive, much more so than organic bids submitted to the city in 2018.

2019 School Turf Program

Total of $35,300.00

B18037SchoolTurfBid2018

Bottom two organic accredited vendors bids were half the price of last years program

Last year’s invoices came to $24,152. This is far more than the organic accredited vendors bids which were $11,952 and $13,284. Even together with the two organic product swap bids, they were all similarly priced at an average of $13,900.

And yet…C&W Services letter shows a different chart with different numbers and says that their subcontractor is “competitively priced.”

School Turf Organic Totals CW Letter

That’s clearly false. The bid totals are there in the left column. Where did these other numbers come from? They certainly are advantageous to C&W Services, but this fancy arithmetic is not in the best interest of Dover taxpayers. The cost of the athletic field maintenance has only risen sharply over the years.

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Price increase despite the loss of three fields due to construction in 2017.

Maybe we should be putting the district’s athletic field management out to bid instead of allowing this to continue?

Please let the school board know you want them to stop violating our organic policy, and take advantage of the free technical assistance available to get their program up to speed.

 

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2019 Curbside Weed Control

In the past, the city has hired vendors to spray herbicides along approximately 30 miles of curb lines of our downtown area streets, sidewalks and parking areas on or around the first week of June, July, August, and September.

Because a special “right of way” pesticide applicator license is needed for this job, we typically had few bids on this service. And despite the city making an effort to request organic and IPM options, the vendors made little attempt to submit appropriate bids for alternative methods.

But this year, things are different. No bid proposals were solicited at all. Why? Because Dover became the first city in the Northeast to purchase a steam weeding unit!

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No more glyphosate or diquat dibromide, no more gross dead brown weeds, no more runoff into our storm drains and watershed, and no need for special licenses because the only chemical being used is H2O, plain water.

The saturated steam from the machine essentially cooks the weed, speeding up the break down process meaning we won’t be looking at a mess like this for months after.

2017CurbWeeds1

Another advantage of this new machine is that it can be used for more than just weed control. Cleaning gum, graffiti and sanitizing garbage and recycling bins are a couple of the extra features.

Who do we have to thank for this new purchase? Our Director of Community Services was the man who hosted a demo last fall, and his staff came up with and built an innovative mobile unit to use the machine on busy roads and protect the operator. We are grateful to them for this!

We are so excited to see the new machine out in use starting next month, be sure to keep an eye out and thank our Community Services staff for their forward thinking – Dover is leading the way on the Seacoast with sustainable weed control – this is something all of us can be proud of.

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3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Lawn Company

Finding a good organic lawn care company can be tough. Many companies offer organic programs – or even have the word organic in their name – but when you investigate further, you find they are anything but! What should we be looking for so we don’t get bamboozled by greenwashing?

Here are some basic questions to ask so you can make a good choice when looking for a lawn care company.

Do they use a soil based approach, or a product swap approach? A true organic program is a soil based approach that begins with a soil test, and then the program is built around cultural practices, fertilizer and amendments to improve its health. Sometimes organic compatible products to manage grubs or weeds are used if indicated, but this should not be the central framework of an organic lawn care program. A “product swap” approach is a program that has scheduled applications of organic weed and grub control products. These programs are typically more expensive and ineffective. When you hear people say, “organic is expensive and doesn’t work,” this is what they are referencing – not a true organic soil based approach.

Are the products and materials being used really organic? Organic land care standards have preferred, allowed, and prohibited substances. These standards are available online at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) website. One easy way to know if a product is organic is to look for Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certification. Some companies will use organic fertilizer and synthetic toxic pesticides while calling the program “organic.” Others will use fertilizer that’s prohibited by organic standards, like “biosolids” which is municipal sewage sludge. If a company is not up front about exactly the products and ingredients they will be using, and does not share this information with people inquiring about their services, this should be a red flag.

Are they accredited in organic land care? There are currently only two certifications for organic lawn care companies. AOLCP and OLCAP. These accreditations can be searched online on the NOFA organic land care website and Organic Landscape Association (OLA) website. This is how you know the person you are hiring has had proper training in organic practices.

See our Lawns page for info on DIY lawn care and more.

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