Lessons Learned from the Alaskan Home Garden: Consequences and Alternatives to Pesticide Use for our Soils, Plants, and Ourselves

As research into soil ecology and pesticide toxicity continues to expand, it is increasingly clear that our reliance on pesticides in and around our homes, in particular in our gardens, is disconnected with the current scientific consensus. Old habits, however, are hard to break. What has become increasingly clear is that many so-called problems have non-pesticide solutions, can often be tolerated (within reason), and, as is too often the case, the prescribed pesticide has consequences arguably worse than the issue it was intended to solve. Having been a professional garden columnist and home gardener for over forty years, Jeff Lowenfels is in a unique position to share his perspective on how gardening methods have changed over the last 40 years and what motivated him and others to experiment with, adopt, and promote organic gardening methods in Alaska. We’ll also discuss the consequences and alternatives of pesticide use in the context of the ‘Teaming with…’ trilogy he authored on soil ecology (see resource list below), as well as (if time allows) current and future regulations around pesticide use in Alaska.   

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web (Lowenfels & Lewis, 2006)

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Lowenfels, 2013)

Teaming with Fungi: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Micorrhizae (Lowenfels, 2017)

Anchorage Daily News garden columns by Lowenfels – https://www.adn.com/author/jeff-lowenfels/

Pesticide Action Network – http://www.panna.org/

Hazards of Yard and Garden Pesticides – ACAT website – https://www.akaction.org/tackling_toxics/yard-garden/pesticides/

Featured speakers

Jeff Lowenfels is a journalist and author of three best-selling books on organic gardening: Teaming with Microbes, Teaming with Nutrients, and Teaming with Fungi – a trilogy on soil ecology with the aim of helping growers improve plant health without the use of harmful chemicals. Lowenfels is also a long-time contributor to the Anchorage Daily News, with an ongoing garden column spanning more than forty years.

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