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Free webinar: home gardening without toxic chemicals

Part of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s Know Your Ocean Speaker Series

Americans are taking up gardening in record numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Maui residents are joining the trend.

Growing your own produce, as well as doing your own landscaping and yard care, are great ways to save money, get exercise, be outdoors and engage your keiki in hands-on science learning.

Unfortunately, many people turn to toxic herbicides and chemicals when weeds and pests appear. In fact, the average yard contains 10 times more chemicals per acre than a typical commercial farm, says Consumer Reports.

Learn tips for skipping those toxic herbicides and pesticides and growing a productive garden and a beautiful yard at a free Zoom presentation by landscape and gardening expert Duane Sparkman on Thursday, June 4 at 3:30 pm. Sparkman is the Assistant Chief Engineer and Landscaping Manager at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Our guest emcee is Darla Palmer-Ellingson, local radio show host and owner of 360 Social Business.

Sparkman will take you into his own yard via Zoom to demonstrate non-toxic gardening and landscaping practices in action. You’ll discover how you can achieve great results in your yard, save money and keep family and pets safer. Because chemicals travel through Maui’s porous soil into the ocean, switching to organic methods will also help protect our local coral reefs and nearshore fish populations.

This free Zoom presentation is part of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s “Know Your Ocean Speaker Series” now being held via Zoom due to COVID-19. To make a free reservation, please go to https://bit.ly/MauiGardeningWebinar.

Sparkman offers a wealth of practical firsthand experience about what works to control pests and weeds based on his years of experience as a professional landscaper, designing and maintaining luxury resort properties and private residences, his work at Haleakala National Park’s Vegetation Management Division and recently, as the Assistant Engineer and Landscaping Manager at The Westin Maui.

At The Westin Maui, Sparkman has successfully implemented measures to reduce the resort’s use of herbicides and pesticides, showcasing alternatives that are safer and more environmentally friendly.

“We are offering this presentation with the hope that more people will resolve to find ways to protect our coral reefs and marine environment by reducing or avoiding the use of herbicides and pesticides in their home gardens and yards,” says Robin Newbold, Chair of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council.

Newbold points out that most people don’t realize how porous our soil is on Maui and how readily chemicals from pesticides and herbicides find their way into the ocean, causing harm to fish, birds and corals.

According to the NOAA Ocean Service Education website, pesticides are designed to be toxic to a target organism, but they often kill other organisms as well: “The insecticide azinphos-methyl, for example, which is used to control insects such as biting mites and aphids, is also very toxic to fish and birds.”

The website notes that many of the compounds used today are toxic at very low concentrations.

Herbicides also penetrate coral tissues and rapidly, within minutes, can reduce the efficiency of the beneficial algae (zooxanthellae ) that live within the corals, reports the book, Chemical Pollution on Coral Reefs: Exposure and Ecological Effects. The zooxantellae convert the energy from the sun into food for the corals through photosynthesis, providing corals with about 90% of their food. When herbicides enter the ocean, they can cause the corals to suffer due to reduced food availability.

“We owe it to our coral reefs and ocean water to find better ways to manage pests and weeds without adding harmful chemicals to our land- and marine-ecosystems,” says Newbold. “We’re grateful that Duane Sparkman is willing to share his practical, hands-on knowledge and experience with us all.”

Special thanks to the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for supporting Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s “Know Your Ocean” Speaker Series.

About Duane Sparkman:
A resident of Maui since 1995 arriving here from Texas, Duane is an avid photographer who aspires to capture “rare moments”. His life’s passion is to preserve intact Hawaiian forests and the perpetuation of Hawaiian Culture. Duane is a professional landscaper by trade, designing and maintaining luxury resort properties, private residences, and working on projects within the Haleakala National Park, Vegetation Management Division. When he is not working or volunteering his time with various Hawaiian reforestation projects “putting back what belongs” he enjoys spending time with his wife, Erin and 2 children, Evan and Isabella cultivating his back yard native forest.

About The Westin Maui Resort & Spa:
Centrally located on pristine Ka’anapali Beach, the spectacular transformations within this resort will completely reimagine many areas of the 12-acre tropical paradise. Surrounded by lush gardens with cascading waterfalls, the 770-room beachfront resort abounds with ways to rejuvenate. Guests can indulge in six outdoor pools that include a brand new family pool and dedicated adults-only pool, spa rejuvenation, unique dining experiences and cultural activities. It is mere steps away from snorkel and sunset cruises, neighboring Whalers Village and championship golfing. Visit www.westinmaui.com.

About Maui Nui Marine Resource Council:
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a community-based nonprofit organization celebrating 11 years of working for healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water and abundant native fish throughout Maui County. Our work includes co-managing the Hui O Ka Wai Ola Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program at 41 sites in South and West Maui, efforts to reduce pollution in Ma‘alaea Bay (through erosion-control efforts in the Pohakea watershed and using oysters to filter sediment and pollutants from ocean water), coral reef research, visitor education programs and more. Learn more at www.mauireefs.org.

About Darla Palmer-Ellingson:
With a strong passion for volunteerism on environmental issues, Darla produces and hosts Maui’s only commercially broadcast public affairs show on environmental and related Hawaiian cultural topics. Darla is a member of the County of Maui Citizens Advisory Committee on the Climate Crisis and a member of Vice President Al Gore’s Reality Project, Hawaii chapter. Her company, 360 Social Business, LLC provides website design, content, social media management, general business and marketing consulting.

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