Marking its 35th anniversary, Stonyfield Organic, Londonderry, N.H., announced a commitment to bringing greater awareness about possible exposure to pesticides in children’s outdoor playing fields and community spaces.

In a recent survey, Stonyfield found that while the majority of American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, nearly the same number (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Yet, most of the playing fields and parks kids play on are treated with a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

Today, 68% of U.S. parents are more likely to buy a product labeled organic, their primary reason being to avoid pesticides, but Stonyfield believes food is just one part of the preventative health equation.

“When we first began 35 years ago, many people thought we were crazy, and organic just meant you had to ‘chew more.’ Today, it’s encouraging to see the strides the organic food industry has made, helping educate around health and working toward making organic a mainstream and accessible food choice for families. But, we’ve still got work to do,” says Gary Hirshberg, co-founder. “We want to ensure that every kid in America is protected from harmful chemicals and toxins. It starts with food, but we believe all children should play free as well– free from worry, free from harmful chemicals and free from toxic-persistent pesticides.”

Stonyfield advocates for reducing kids’ exposure to toxic-persistent pesticides and to lend its voice to support and empower parents. In the same survey, one-third of parents said that if they were made aware their child’s sports field, playground or park was treated with pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals, they would not allow them to continue playing in these spaces.

Stonyfield announced a 3-year, half million dollar initiative to work with 35 communities across the country to convert outdoor playing fields and parks to organic while also igniting a larger movement to ensure that all kids can play freely without the concern of potentially harmful chemicals.

“While Stonyfield is best known as a passionate change maker in the organic food movement, this effort goes far beyond the products we make and sell. We need to be just as concerned with what goes on kids’ bodies as what goes in them. This takes our mission of healthier people and a healthier planet to the next level by shedding light on an often overlooked issue and reminding everyone that they can make change locally to protect the health of our children and our environment,” adds Hirshberg. 

With pilot fields converting this spring, Stonyfield will be providing tools and resources to make change locally with the official launch of the initiative later this year.