Berlin Homeowner Wins $1,000 Healthy Yard Competition

BERLIN – A Berlin resident is $1,000 richer after winning a healthy yard competition that promotes environmentally friendly practices.

Danielle Smith, the winner of My Nature’s first healthy yard competition, said she discovered the contest by happenstance and decided to partake in the event.

“When I saw the flyer I knew our yard was worth looking at,” she said.

Unlike many in her area, Smith said she and her husband choose not to treat their yard with chemicals and instead use their lawn as a pesticide-free area for edible plants.

Smith said she ventured into wild edibles and pesticide-free lawns years ago and has since utilized edible weeds found growing in her own yard.

“For five years, I’ve been more aware of the health benefits of it,” she said, “for both me and the earth.”

For example, Smith said she often picks clover, chickweed and lamb’s quarters from her lawn to use in meals.

“I look forward to it every spring,” she said. “A lot of it is more beneficial than the spinach we are running to the grocery store to get.”

Smith said she learned these practices from My Nature owner, friend and contest creator Janet Phillips.

Phillips, who owns a community learning center that teaches on wild edibles, raw vegan food and environmental health, said she created the contest last year in an effort to promote chemical-free practices.

“Our yard constitutes more land space than the single biggest crop grown in America and I don’t think people understand they can make a difference,” she said. “They have the healthiest food stores in their own back yard.  These are the topics we want to bring to light. We want to change what constitutes a beautiful yard.”

Phillips said guidelines of the competition prohibited lawn chemicals and required a certain number of plant species.

“It helps not only children and families, but birds, bugs and bees,” she said.

Although several inquired about the competition, Phillips said she knew Smith, a friend and participant, would be a shoo-in for the contest.

“I admired her yard,” she said. “She’s got six children and is conscious of the environment.”

Phillips said that the goal of the competition was to shine a light on pesticide-free lawns and its benefits to the health of humans and the habitats of native plants and animals.

“It was a way to get people to start seeing their yards differently,” she said. “If you change your attitude, you can change the world.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.