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  • Writer's pictureJenna Bonnoront

The Dark Side of Living in 'Farm Country'

Allow me to vent for a minute...

Yesterday, with sustained winds of 15-20 mph blowing directly towards my garden, a spray applicator decided it would be a good time to apply herbicide (and not just any herbicide, but Roundup PowerMAX® 3-- touted as the herbicide with the "Highest Concentration of Glyphosate in the U.S. Market") to the field across the road. I went over both to verify what was being sprayed, and with hopes of talking to the person running the sprayer. I didn't get the chance- I couldn't get close enough to flag him down (without getting a face full of glyphosate), and my attempts from afar were either unseen or ignored. I wanted to explain that while I understand this is crunch time for farmers, I hoped he could understand that my livelihood depends on the crops growing in my garden-- and many vegetable and fruit crops are very susceptible to glyphosate damage.

I hate that glyphosate and other herbicides are so widely used, but will say that most farmers and spray applicators in our area try to be respectful of their neighbors and choose only to spray on calm days. The fact that this individual thought it acceptable to spray during such windy conditions is incredibly disheartening to me.

I'm watching my garden closely and am hoping that my elderberries served as a block and took the brunt of the spray drift. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks for herbicide damage to show up, but I'm already seeing what could be damage on the outermost elderberry foliage.

I'm yet undecided as to the best way to handle this situation. I'm still trying to track down exactly who did the spraying, as I'd like to have a civil conversation with them. I've been advised that filing a formal complaint does very little to help remedy this type of situation. If anyone has any experience or advice, please share!

On a personal level, this too shall pass-- I'm by no means the only one. Every year millions of gardeners experience some level of spray damage on their plants (whether they realize it or not). I can replant some of my annual crops, and I can continue to build buffers around my garden with plants that can handle the damage or are known phytoremediators. But on a higher level, the overuse of chemicals which are detrimental to the environment and human health needs to stop. The irresponsible application of these chemicals should be taken as the serious offense that it is. We should NOT have to rush our children indoors and shut every window on a beautiful spring day because we don't want them inhaling spray drift. We should NOT have to deal with soil and water contamination resulting from the overuse and abuse of certain chemicals. We should NOT have to pour our hearts and souls into our beautiful organic gardens only to have it tainted by one careless spray applicator who was in a rush to get the job done. 😢

Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope that all of us like-minded humans can continue to share the joy of thriving gardens and natural spaces, each of us caring for a little plot of earth, each of us encouraging others to do the same. It's how change can begin.

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