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09-06-21 Pesticide Free Parks, Lawns & Gardens in Providence

Guests: Emily Koo, Sustainability Strategy Manager in the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability and Lee Ann Freitas, Director of the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

When we apply pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to our lawns, gardens and trees, these chemicals harm the surrounding environment. These toxins find their way into our air, our food, our water and our parks. How can we fix this problem?  We can turn to Nature for safe solutions. Emily Koo and Lee Ann Freitas from Pesticide Free PVD talk about how they are creating a pesticide free city, and they share lots of tips and tricks, including biological methods. This episode begins with two fun stories – Praying Mantis and Web of Life – to get everyone to start thinking about the pesticides issue before diving deeper with our guests.

Emily Koo serves as Sustainability Strategy Manager in the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability, where she implements a wide range of programs and monitors progress towards the city’s sustainability and equity goals. She supports city departments, community organizations, businesses, and residents in making sustainable choices, including recent efforts to reduce neurotoxic chemical exposures throughout the city. She also manages public outreach and communication about the work of the Office of Sustainability.

Lee Ann Freitas, has been working with plants, insects and nature for over 30 years. With a degree in Horticulture and graduate work in soil microbiology, her approach to gardening is with soils and ecosystems in mind. As director of the RWP Botanical Center for the last 5 years, she has initiated a holistic, chemical-free method of gardening to the Center’s growing practices and works to bring those practices Park and City wide.


Learn more and take the Pledge to go pesticide free at

Story Walking Photo Blog: The Entomologist and the Etymologist –

Check out the Top 10 Tips for a Pesticide Free Lawn & Garden

Download the Spring 2021 Report: City of Providence’s Pesticide and Chemical Free Management Practices prepared by the Audubon Society of RI

Plan a visit to the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center:

Follow the Providence Office of Sustainability @SustainPVD on Facebook and @Sustain_PVD on Twitter! and

Sign up for the SustainPVD newsletter:

Learning Opportunities

Groundwork Rhode Island has both an Adult Job Training program and the Green Team Youth Employment program. GroundCorp Landscape and Harvest Cycle Compost are social ventures that provide employment to graduates of their programs and allow them to implement on-the-ground environmental projects in Providence.

The Growing Futures Boot Camp is sponsored by the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association (RINLA). Program participants work for a week in Arcadia Management Area, learning and doing meaningful work to repair and restore public lands including trail restoration, fire road clearing, tree and shrub pruning, and other entry-level forestry and horticulture work.

Learn about Least Toxic Control of Pests in the Home and Garden
Visit the Beyond Pesticides website

Learn more at , email or call 401 529-6830. Connect with Wendy to order copies of FiddlesticksThe Angel Heart or Storywalker Wild Plant Magic Cards.

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