By Jeremy Olsen, and staff at The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
Working with organic farmers is a lot like working with biologists--at least in one critical way--they all understand mutual symbiosis. Have you ever considered the relevance and significance of working in collaboration with those that have a mutual appreciation or benefit from your partnership? If you work with nature, you likely have. It’s a valuable consideration and one that, for me, invokes good feelings and much gratitude.
The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) is almost 40 years old and we work to educate farmers about the reduction of pesticides as well as the science and training on important alternatives that will lead to healthier communities everywhere. We now do this across three program areas, working to address the problems pesticide use has brought upon our rivers, water, salmon, pollinators, soil, parks, schools, agricultural workers, children and more.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a long-time supporter and we are grateful for their partnership. I invite you to read more below about all that NCAP seeks to protect. I also invite you to join in this work, attend a workshop, become a member or learn more at www.pesticide.org. Your involvement adds to this mutually symbiotic relationship--and it this case--for the benefit of all.
Since the mid 20th century, chemical pesticides have played an increasingly major role in agriculture, industry, and urban land management. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency calculates that annual pesticide use in the US amounts to over one billion pounds per year–roughly 3 lbs. for every person!
Pesticides can have negative impacts on other organisms aside from the intended pest, and this can cause problems in the broader environment. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to a number of serious human health concerns, including birth defects, cancer, and injury to reproductive organs.
NCAP works to protect those who are most vulnerable from harm caused by pesticides, while also striving to educate and help identify healthier, more ecologically sound solutions to pest management. We are focusing our current campaigns in these three program areas:
HEALTHY FOOD AND FARMS PROGRAM
At the heart of sustainable agriculture is the belief that we must nurture the land just as it, in turn, nurtures us. It’s not only about avoiding harmful chemicals, it’s about investing in practices that conserve as well as cultivate. NCAP is working to create lively organic communities that will ensure a healthier future for our food, our farms and our farmers.
HEALTHY WILDLIFE AND WATER PROGRAM
All living things need clean water and healthy habitat. That’s why we work to protect Northwest environments from harm caused by pesticides. NCAP’s efforts to protect waterways and wildlife from pesticides are currently focused on projects that will help restore endangered fish populations, protect pollinators like bees, and achieve stronger federal regulation and monitoring of pesticides.
HEALTHY PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
Pesticides are often used in parks, schools and other areas where children live, learn and play. This puts kids at risk for exposure, which can lead to serious illness. We are working to protect growing minds and bodies by organizing and educating to make more places pesticide-free.
NCAP’s recent program accomplishments:
- $1,200,000,000 over five years won in the Farm Bill through our partnership and membership in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to support local food, beginning farmers, organic agriculture, and specialty crops.
- 249 farmers attended five workshops and field days in Idaho and Oregon to learn about organic approaches, pollinators, beneficial insects, and ways to manage mummy berry disease without pesticides.
- Six farms partnered with us for on-farm research and demonstration of alternatives to pesticides for Mummy Berry Disease, and for establishing pollinator and beneficial habitat.
- NCAP worked closely with Idaho organic farmers and The Xerces Society to demonstrate organic methods of site preparation with one of the demonstration farms hosting a tour for 44 participants.
- 375 bed bug posters in nine languages were distributed to property managers to help inform residents what to do if they discover bed bugs. NCAP produced the poster and outreach materials, including an online video, covering IPM strategies for bed bug management. NCAP delivered the poster, handouts and video to its network of over 14,000 stakeholders in all five Northwestern states.
- 329 Washington Green Schools have the needed resources to include reducing pesticides indoors and outdoors with specific best practices for using Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- 300 Oregon Green Schools added pesticide reduction clauses in the “green school” criteria for certification after working with NCAP. Additionally, there are now requirements for the over 300 member certified schools to annually report their pesticide use.
- NCAP was re-appointed in 2015 to provide leadership on the Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee, a federal committee that advises the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on pesticide matters;
- 28 runs of salmon and steelhead in three states gained further protection from five highly toxic insecticides due to efforts by NCAP and partners. Protective buffers are now in place until EPA institutes permanent protections.
- 28 separate media outlets and organizations based in 11 states covered the story of our salmon protection work.
- Five community members became “Salmon Heroes” and shared their stories in a video series designed to inspire individual action to support endangered salmon.
- Four Northwest municipalities banned the use of neonicotinoids on city or county property.
Get involved with NCAP or donate today!
Jeremy Olsen is a 19-year veteran in the education and non-profit sectors dedicated to engaging individuals and groups towards personal and planetary health. As NCAP’s Assistant Director, Jeremy works daily to connect with members, donors and partners in support of NCAP’s work building safe, clean and healthy communities. Jeremy resides in Eugene, Oregon.