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Stonyfield Organic's #PlayFree Initiative Celebrates New Milestone: Organic Fields Brought to More Than One Million People

LONDONDERRY, N.H., Sept. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Stonyfield Organic's #PlayFree initiative to stop the use of harmful pesticides on parks and playing fields has reached a significant milestone, with the country's leading organic yogurt maker today announcing that it has brought organic model fields to over one million people and counting. Continuing its commitment to ensure that every child and family in America can #PlayFree, Stonyfield Organic also today announces that it has teamed up with 10 new communities to convert outdoor fields and parks to organic grounds management.

Stonyfield Organic (PRNewsfoto/Stonyfield)

"Kicking off in 2018 in honor of our 35th anniversary, we set off on our most ambitious mission yet -- to make all fields organic by stopping the use of toxic persistent pesticides and harmful chemicals, including glyphosate," said Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield co-founder and Chief Organic Optimist. "It's a huge milestone that we've brought organic pilot fields to more than one million people, but we're particularly thrilled to see that work continue and even spread to other fields and communities. We're very much looking forward to seeing that enthusiasm, awareness and action continue to grow with our next 10 #PlayFree communities and beyond."

Each of this year's selected cities will receive a $5,000 donation to use toward the purchase of organic inputs and/or landscaping equipment needed for organic grounds management. The communities will also receive in-kind technical support and guidance from Stonyfield's expert collaborators, including Beyond Pesticides, Non Toxic Neighborhoods, Osborne Organics and Midwest Grows Green.

The newest 10 communities that will team up with Stonyfield over the next two years include the following:

  • East Grand Rapids, MI
  • Lisle, IL
  • Richmond, CA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • University Heights, OH
  • South Euclid, OH
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Austin, TX
  • Pittsburgh, PA

The #PlayFree communities selected in 2018 are well underway with their conversions to organic management. Those communities include South Portland, ME, Costa Mesa, CA, Burbank, CA, Tustin, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, Houston, TX, North Miami, FL, Hyattsville, MD, Portsmouth, NH and Dover, NH.

Last year, Stonyfield also set up a grassroots donation program geared toward 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations looking to take their community education and advocacy efforts to the next level. A total of $50,000 was awarded to 501(c)(3) groups. One of the recipients, Herbicide-Free Campus, aims to stop the use of toxic herbicides at colleges and universities throughout the country.

"This movement is about a cultural shift in the way we manage landscapes and tend to the soil. It requires us to ask the question, 'If the alternatives exist, why are we still spraying toxic persistent herbicides at schools and allowing children, community members, and workers to be exposed?' For the sake of future generations, we must do better," said Mackenzie Feldman, Founder of Herbicide-Free Campus and recipient of the Brower Youth Award recognizing outstanding emerging youth leaders in the environmental movement. "Because of national supporters like Stonyfield Organic, we're able to increase our impact and further spread the word about our efforts to end herbicide use at every school in the nation."

The StonyFields #PlayFree initiative deepens the mission-led brand's commitment to issues beyond the food aisle by shedding light on an often-overlooked issue. In a recent survey*, Stonyfield found that most American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, yet nearly the same number (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Stonyfield is eager to bring attention to this issue by empowering everyone to make change locally to protect the health of children and the environment.

"Several of the most commonly used chemicals on playing fields are either proven or likely endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the development of children's immune, reproductive, and metabolic systems," says Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Founding Director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and author of the book Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know. "I applaud Stonyfield and its collaborators for this initiative and encourage all parents to get involved in their local communities."

Stonyfield's #PlayFree initiative is already fueling a movement that has inspired other towns to move toward organic management as well.

"Non Toxic Neighborhoods and our advisors believe that it should be a basic human right that our children are protected from harmful pesticides where they play. Glyphosate and other synthetic pesticides simply should have never been used in parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and schools exposing the most vulnerable population, especially since they're used for purely cosmetic reasons," said Kim Konte, co-founder of Non Toxic Neighborhoods. "Thanks to Stonyfield's support of the organic pilot park in the city of North Miami, six additional pesticide bans and organically driven policies have come online as a result," she added.

To learn how to take action in your own community and or even begin with your own backyard, visit https://www.stonyfield.com/playfree.

About Stonyfield Organic
As the country's leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield takes care with everything it puts into its products and everything it keeps out. By saying no to toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, Stonyfield has been saying yes to healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet for 35 years. Stonyfield, a Certified B-Corp, is also helping to protect and preserve the next generation of farmers and families through programs like its Direct Milk Supply and Wolfe's Neck Organic Training Program as well as StonyFIELDS, a nationwide, multi-year initiative to help keep families free from toxic persistent pesticides in parks and playing fields across the country.

About Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides, founded in 1981, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. that works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The organization has assisted hundreds of communities nationwide to transition to organic land management practices and policies. The group served on the National Organic Standards Board, 2010-2015.

About Non Toxic Neighborhoods
Non Toxic Neighborhood's leadership, concerned about the ubiquitous use of pesticides and their children's health, worked successfully with their city leaders to promote a ban on harmful pesticides in Irvine, CA. As a result, the City of Irvine and Irvine Unified School District adopted organically driven landscaping policies. NTN then received an endorsement of support from Dr. Jane Goodall for their work. So they continued on to Burbank, Tustin and have now assisted well over 30 cities and school districts around the country to support the transition away from harmful pesticides and switch to proven and organic land management. NTN provides their proven and replicable methods, step by step Playbook and offers a NTN Toolkit so you can get started today!

About Osborne Organics
"Chip" Osborne, Jr., President of Osborne Organics, LLC, and Founder of the Organic Landscape Association has over 17 years of experience in creating safe, sustainable and healthy athletic fields and landscapes through natural turf management.

About Midwest Grows Green
Midwest Grows Green is an initiative of the IPM Institute of North America, Inc. that accomplishes large scale behavior change by sharing pesticide and fertilizer reduction information at critical places where lawns influence our lives. The IPM Institute is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit started in 1998 that improves sustainability in agriculture and communities through market mechanisms based in Integrated Pest Management.

*Stonyfield and Lindberg International surveyed 1,000 adults age 18 and older, comprised of 537 parents with children living at home, in January 2018.

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