GRAY – Citing an urgent need to address the health of Maine lakes and watersheds, several Portland groups are banding together to present a June 17 lecture titled “Green Lawns, Clear Lakes: How & Why to Garden Organically.” Featured will be nationally recognized author and lecturer Paul Tukey.

The free event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Gymnasium.

It was arranged by the Crystal Lake Association and is co-sponsored by the Little Sebago Lake Association, the Forest Lake Association, the Gray Public Library Association, the Not Your Mother’s Garden Club, Coast of Maine Organics, Casco Bay SafeLawns & Landscapes and the Lee Auto Malls.

“We made a plea to Mr. Tukey, saying, ‘We need you,'” said Cheryl Welch, president of the Crystal Lake Association. “We know he is a popular speaker all across America and his message is so timely. We are hoping he will inspire homeowners, especially those who live around lakes, rivers, streams and oceans, to do the right thing when it comes to applying fertilizers and pesticides on their lawns and gardens.”

Tukey, a Maine native and resident of Cumberland, is author of the nation’s best-selling lawn book titled “The Organic Lawn Care Manual.” In 2006, he founded the nonprofit and pledged to personally visit all 50 states to spread his message of growing natural lawns and gardens. His work has been profiled on “Good Morning America” and “Martha Stewart Living,” as well as in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic and hundreds of other publications.

“From Hawaii to Florida, from Washington state to the outer banks of New Jersey, people face the same concerns about water quality and human and animal health,” said Tukey, named the nation’s horticultural communicator for 2006.

“There are so many environmental contaminants the average person can’t control, but you can control what you do to your lawn and garden and, therefore, what runs off into the lakes and watersheds,” he stressed in a prepared statement.

Many states, including Maine, are beginning to regulate the application of certain lawn and garden products. Tukey says he looks forward to the day when synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are no longer legal to sell and apply.

“Counties in Florida are banning chemical fertilizers because of run-off and red-tide issues,” he said. “Connecticut has banned lawn pesticides around schools and daycare centers and Maine is taking a strong stand against phosphorus fertilizers. That’s a good start, but there’s more that Maine can do.”

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