Paul Tukey Awarded GWA Green Medal for Sustainable Gardening Leadership

Paul and I at the GWA Awards celebration (Photo: Sara Stine-Brown)
Recently, I was privileged to present GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators’ Green Medal to Paul Tukey, whose life, vision, and work embodies the highest ideals in promoting earth-wise gardening. He paid a high price for his early entry into the “better living through chemistry” side of the lawn care profession, but ultimately became one of the anti-pesticide movement’s most ardent proponents. By documenting his up-close and personal experience with lawn chemicals, and the story of dermatologist Dr. June Irwin’s fight to have pesticides banned from her small town of Hudson, Ontario, Canada, Tukey shined a spotlight into the darker corners of the industry. He made some mistakes along the way, but he talks about them with unflinching honesty.

Today, Tukey is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Glenstone, a museum that melds art, architecture, and the environment in a 220-acre, organically-managed setting. The new Glenstone Environmental Center is planned to open in 2018, and will help visitors understand how gardening in harmony with the Earth’s natural systems is good for themselves as well as our planet, by using natural landscape maintenance and organic pest and disease controls.

From left, Deb, Marcia, Paul, Nancy, me, and Sabrena. Kirk is the man behind the camera.
Reaching the point where it was finally time to create the Green Medal Award is not something one does alone. Many hands “made light the work” along the way, but I’m especially grateful this year to Sabrena Schweyer for nominating Paul, and to our Sustainability Awards sub-committee, Kirk Brown, Debra Knapke, Nancy Taylor Robson, and Marcia Tate.

Through my work as GWA’s Sustainability Committee Chair over the past six years, I’ve forged some very rewarding relationships that remind me just how important to our future sustainable gardening really is.

To those who, like me, have been slogging it out in the trenches of environmentally-responsible gardening and farming for decades, I say, “Take heart and keep slogging.” Our efforts are starting to have a cumulative effect – stories about sustainable gardening have gone from being nowhere to being everywhere. And we all deserve a medal for that!

Watch the 8-minute GWA Green Medal award presentation video here:

Read about the Glenstone Museum’s Environmental Center here:

Watch Paul Tukey’s 16-minute documentary, A Chemical Reaction

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