Stonyfield Organic, Londonderry, N.H., said its #PlayFree initiative to stop the use of harmful pesticides on parks and playing fields has reached a significant milestone. The organic yogurt producer thus far has brought organic model fields to over 1 million people and counting. 

Continuing its commitment to ensure that every child and family in America can #PlayFree, Stonyfield Organic also announced that it teamed up with 10 new communities to convert outdoor fields and parks to organic grounds management.

“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’s cofounder and chief organic optimist. “It’s a huge milestone that we’ve brought organic pilot fields to more than 1 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, Stonyfield said. 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 East Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lisle, Ill.; Richmond, Calif.; Minneapolis; University Heights, Ohio; South Euclid, Ohio; Chapel Hill, N.C.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Austin, Texas; and Pittsburgh.

The #PlayFree communities selected in 2018 are well underway with their conversions to organic management, Stonyfield said. Those communities include South Portland, Maine; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Burbank, Calif.; Tustin, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Houston; North Miami, Fla.; Hyattsville, Md.; Portsmouth, N.H.; and Dover, N.H.

Last year, Stonyfield also set up a grassroots donation program geared toward 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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, the company said. One of the recipients, Herbicide-Free Campus, aims to stop the use of toxic herbicides at colleges and universities throughout the country.

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 said it is eager to bring attention to this issue by empowering everyone to make change locally to protect the health of children and the environment.

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