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Survey of Long Island Lawn and Garden Centers Finds:

Greater Availability of Non-Toxic Products

119 L.I. Stores Surveyed and Ranked

For 33 Organic (Natural) Lawn and Garden Care Products

A survey of lawn and garden centers, including most of the major outlets in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, found that a growing number are making available non-toxic, chemical-free, or organic products that pose no health or environmental risks.

The survey findings were released today in the report: Finding Family-Safe Alternatives. This is a follow-up to previous surveys conducted in 1996 and 1998, by the Pesticide Alternatives Project, a coalition of community, environmental, conservation, and breast health groups -- coordinated by the L. I. Neighborhood Network -- dedicated to reducing the human health risks from exposure to toxins by encouraging a wider selection of alternatives to pesticides and making the public aware of where to purchase them.

Of the 119 stores surveyed, 36 were ranked as "Recommended Stores," for offering at least sixteen of the products sought. This is an improvement over both 1998, when only 19 stores were ranked as recommended, and 1996 when 14 were ranked as recommended. "The trend is definitely in the direction of offering more natural, organic lawn and garden products." said Neal Lewis, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Network. This year, 33 products were surveyed, up significantly from the 20 surveyed in 1998, and the 16 surveyed in 1996. This reflects the increase in the variety of commercially available natural, organic products.

This year's survey identified two significant firsts for Long Island. Hicks Nursery in Westbury stocked all 33 products, the first time in the three surveys that any store scored a perfect 100%; Marder's in Bridgehampton is the first store found in the five years of surveys to carry only alternative, organic products and no synthetic, chemical pesticides.

The Recommended Stores are:

Store Location Total %
Hicks Nursery 100 Jericho Trnpk., Westbury 33 100%
Main Street Nursery 475 W. Main St., Huntington 32 97%
Abby's Parkside 3333 Merrick Rd., Wantagh 30 91%
Lynch's Garden Center 175 North Sea Rd., Southampton 30 91%
Martin Viette 6050 Northern Blvd., East Norwich 30 91%
Atlantic Nursery & Hardware 250 Atlantic Ave., Freeport 28 85%
Father Nature's 2676 Sunrise Hwy., East Islip 27 82%
Agway Young Avenue, Southold 26 79%
Dees 69 Atlantic Ave., Oceanside 26 79%
Giordanos 295 Glen Cove Rd., Sea Cliff 26 79%
Marder's Snake Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton 26 79%
Goldberg and Rodler 216 E. Main Street, Huntington 25 76%
Agway Route 25A, Port Jefferson Station 24 73%
Bayles 88 S. Bayles St., Port  Washington 24 73%
Fort Hill Nurseries/Garden Ctr. 188 E. Main St., Huntington 24 73%
Dodds & Eder 221 South Street, Oyster Bay 23 70%
Home Depot 1881 Sunrise Highway, Bay Shore 23 70%
Olsen's Nursery 386 Lake Ave., Nesconsett 23 70%
Sag Harbor Garden Center 11 Spring St., Sag Harbor 23 70%
Agway 411 W. John St., Hicksville 22 67%
Carl's 1849 Old Country Rd., Riverhead 22 67%
Joseph A Hren Montauk Highway, East Hampton 22 67%
Paul's Nursery 841 Pulaski Rd., Greenlawn 22 67%
Agway Snake Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton 21 64%
Van Bourgondien 833 Deer Park Ave., Dix Hills 21 64%
Mohlenhoff's 33 West Rogues Path, Huntington 20 61%
Agway 1122 Osborne Ave., Riverhead 19 58%
Garden World 500 Franklin Ave., Franklin Square 19 58%
Di Stefano 1056 Northern Blvd., Roslyn 18 55%
Fort Pond Native Plants 26 South Embassy St., Montauk 18 55%
Franks 4067 Jericho Trnpk., East Northport 18 55%
Stables Garden Center 1141 Deer Park Ave., Kings Park 18 55%
Aspatuck 303 Montauk Highway, West Hampton 16 48%
Branching Out 175 Montauk Highway, Remsenberg 16 48%
Broadway Gardens 611 Broadway, Massapequa 16 48%
Cipriano's Nurs & Gardn 1660 Front, East Meadow 16 48%

All recommended stores in this survey increased their selection of organic products. In most cases the improved availability was significant. The average increase for recommended stores was 10.3 products (compared to 1998 survey results). The best selection of organic products was found at independent nurseries and lawn and garden stores, with an average of 15.5 products per store. The worst results were found at home improvement, hardware, and department store chains which averaged only 5.4.

Several products were found to be much more widely available now than just two years ago. Vegetable-based horticultural oil which was found in only 13 stores in 1998 is now carried by 37 stores, almost tripling its availability. Other products that significantly increased in availability are corn gluten (15 more stores), diatomaceous earth (14 more stores), and BT for use against mosquito larvae (14 more stores). This year's survey also includes some completely new products which were not commercially available in 1998. Among these are citrus insect killer (from Concern), and lemon and vinegar herbicide (Nature's Glory Weed and Grass Killer and Burn Out). A new product of particular interest to Long Islanders, due to concerns about mosquito spraying and West Nile virus is garlic oil (Garlic Barrier and Mosquito Barrier), which received EPA registration in 1999. Tests performed by the manufacturer showed that garlic oil has a 94.5% rate of effectiveness at repelling mosquitoes.

However, the survey also found that the majority of the stores surveyed had fewer than half of the products recommended for organic lawn care programs. The average number of products stocked by stores was only 37% (12.2 products) of the 33 products sought; 57 of the stores stocked 10 or fewer of the products; seven stores had none of the products. "Since our last survey, some of the stores have significantly increased their safer, natural products. But a great deal of progress still needs to be made. Our hope is that stores that scored low this year will recognize that there is a growing market for safe alternatives and will make an effort to stock these products in the near future," said Lewis.

"Each year, Long Island's lawn care supply stores promote the use of and sell thousands of pounds of chemical pesticides. Most of these chemicals are highly toxic and some are known or suspected carcinogens and/or neurotoxins," said Mr. Lewis. "The purpose of this program is to counteract those enormous advertising budgets and get the word out that there are effective alternatives to chemical pesticides." In addition to conducting the surveys, the Pesticide Alternatives Project is also organizing efforts to contact stores and urge them to expand their selection of organic products.

The long-term goal of the L. I. Neighborhood Network's Pesticide Alternatives Project is to reduce toxic pesticide exposure and environmental contamination from the use of these chemicals by educating the public about alternative pest control methods, encouraging their increased availability and making known the locations where the products can be found.

Organic lawn care practices re-create as closely as possible the natural processes that occur in a healthy eco-system, nourishing the soil and plants, and preserving populations of beneficial microorganisms, and predatory insects which control potential pest infestations. Changing over to organic lawn care practices often requires the application of products which are not used in chemically dependent lawn and garden care. All of these organic products are widely available through mail order catalogs, however, mail order may prove inconvenient when bulky products are sought.

Neighborhood Network
7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
Advocates for Long Island's Environment