Environmental policies

Our Environmental Policies are the foundation of our effort towards farming in a way that is sustainable for the environment. They should be consulted for all operational changes and decisions. As new issues arise, we should incorporate new sections into the Environmental Policy. Of all our policies, these have the most enduring effect on the future of the land itself. Those who are considering taking an active part in operating the farm should make themselves very familiar with these principles.

These policies represent goals, not accomplishments. In some cases, they have been inspired by mistakes which we hope not to repeat. They are intended to guide our daily work on the farm to ensure that the broad and lasting effects of our decisions are considered.

These policies apply to all areas of Pinwheel Farm (PWF), including the houses, outbuildings, yard, farm ground, and wilderness areas. They are incorporated by reference in all agreements pertaining to the use of Pinwheel Farm and its resources. “Landowner” means Natalya M. Lowther, property owner of Pinwheel Farm.

All Pinwheel Farm policies, guidelines, and SOPs are subject to review and revision in response to specific problems or to reflect on-going improvements and changes at the farm.


Pinwheel Farm shall be registered with appropriate authorities as a “no-spray zone” to reduce spray drift from pesticide applications in the local area from affecting the Pinwheel Farm environment. This includes Douglas County and the State of Kansas.

Appropriate signage must be displayed on the street frontage and at intervals along property lines. Adjoining neighbors should be notified of Pinwheel Farm’s no-spray status, and educated about the consequences of inappropriate pesticide use.

Any exceptions to the no-spray zone shall be on a case-by-case basis and shall be authorized in writing by the landowner prior to spraying.


Use of any form of insecticide is strongly discouraged, in order that a natural ecological balance may be developed and maintained. Under no conditions shall compounds containing potentially harmful minerals such as copper or arsenic be applied to Pinwheel Farm soils.

Insect control shall be by mechanical (row covers, hand picking, etc.) or naturally-occurring biological means whenever feasible. Mineral and botanical pesticides may also be used, except arsenic- or copper-containing compounds are forbidden to avoid long-term accumulations that could be toxic to sheep or contaminate water sources. Use of chemicals should favor compounds that degrade quickly, such as pyrethroids over slower-degrading chemicals. All use of chemicals must be in strict compliance with labeled directions.

Chemical control shall be limited to the following situations, unless case-by-case approval is granted by the landowner. Such use must not present a possibility of contamination of products to be consumed or sold.

• Control of internal and external parasites, such as worms, ticks, and fleas, on humans and animals.
• Use of personal insect repellents.
• Use of targeted sprays to kill wasp colonies on their nests.
• Extermination and prevention treatments to protect the house and other major outbuildings from termites or other destructive insects.
• Spot treatments to manage ants, roaches or other household pests inside buildings.
• Chemical control of fiber pests in areas where fibers are used, stored or sold.


Weeds should be controlled manually, by pulling, digging, pruning, heavy mulching, and preventing seed production. In some cases altering the pH or fertility of the soil may discourage particular plants, or grazing may provide control.

Chemical weed control shall be limited to spot treatment of poison ivy or other dangerous or noxious weeds that cannot reasonably be controlled by other means. Label directions must be followed scrupulously. Every possible precaution must be taken to prevent spray or vapor drift to sensitive plants including grapes, fruit trees, tomato plants, and many other vegetables and ornamentals.

Herbicides shall not be used in the garden area or its surrounding paths and lanes without specific written authorization by the landowner.

All weeds designated as noxious weeds by the State of Kansas must be controlled at all times. These weeds include, but are not limited to:
• Musk thistle
• Johnson grass
• Bindweed
• Wild Hemp
• Sericea lespediza
• Jimpson weed*

Additionally, the following weeds are considered “Pinwheel Farm Noxious Weeds” and should be kept under control:
• Dodder
• Cocklebur
• Burdock (if cultivated must NOT be allowed to seed)*
• Poison Ivy
• White Snakeroot
• Spanish needles (Tagetes)
• Bedstraw
• Hedge parsley
• Japanese Hop vine
• Caltrops/Puncture vine*
• Bur grass/Sandbur
• Horsenettle
• Sweet Annie
• Any other plant producing burs or thorns which may contaminate wool or injure people or domesticated animals, unless cultivated or maintained for a specific beneficial use
• Any other plant presenting a poisoning hazard to people or domesticated animals, unless cultivated or maintained for a specific beneficial use.
• Any prolifically self-seeding plant, such as dock, should be considered a PWF noxious weed in the garden and yard areas.
• Any rhizomaceous plant, such as Bermuda Grass, Smooth brome grass, etc., should be considered a PWF noxious weed in the cultivated garden areas.
• Any vining plant, such as wild buckwheat or morning glory, that poses a tangling hazard for people, animals and equipment should be considered a PWF noxious weed in the garden and yard areas.

*These have not been found on Pinwheel Farm as of Sept. 12, 2006.

Landowner should be notified of any weed infestations covered by this section.


Rodents and other destructive animals (including mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, etc.) shall be controlled by mechanical or biological deterrence whenever possible, including packaging, fencing or other enclosure of the pests’ targets or use of predatory (cats) or guardian (llama, geese) animals.

Trapping of rodents in buildings may be with live traps or killing traps. Drowning is a quick and effective way of disposing of animals caught in live traps.

Rodenticides may be used only in buildings and only in such a manner that humans and non-target animals will not contact either the poison or the poisoned rodents.

In certain situations, larger pests such as deer, rabbits, squirrels and woodchucks may be controlled by shooting for human consumption, in compliance with applicable regulations.


Only general types of fertilizers and soil amendments acceptable under most organic standards shall be applied to Pinwheel Farm soils. These include compost; poultry and herbivore manure; and minerals such as lime. Organic matter imported from off-farm sources shall be free of state and PWF noxious weed seeds and disease organisms of concern to domesticated animals, including sheep (parasites, footrot, caseous lymphadenitis, etc.).

Nutrient sources such as manure and compost must be managed in such a way as to prevent nutrient or microbial contamination of potable water or food products, and to prevent run-off to neighboring properties or waterways.


Use of all materials considered hazardous by federal, state or local regulations shall be in strict compliance with all applicable regulations and with label directions. Hazardous materials shall be clearly labeled and safely stored at all times to prevent contamination of property or accidental exposure of humans or animals. Materials used and/or stored on the farm shall be limited to those intended for general consumer use and commonly available from hardware or farm stores. Materials should be purchased and stored in the smallest packages available that will fulfill their intended use. Once a package has been opened, the package should be stored in a rigid plastic container clearly and permanently labeled “Danger–Pesticide”.


Packaging and spent or unused products that may contain hazardous materials should be disposed in accordance with label recommendations or according to recommendations of the City of Lawrence Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program. Under no circumstances may such waste be burned, buried, or otherwise disposed on Pinwheel Farm property.


Household trash must be disposed of in an approved sanitary landfill.

Vegetable scraps, weeds, etc. should be fed to animals when appropriate, or composted.

Certain noxious weed waste (any part that can reproduce) should be disposed of in an approved sanitary landfill, by burning, or other method suitable to prevent their spread.

Recycling of glass, metals, etc. is strongly encouraged when feasible.

Non-recyclable waste, and all waste not disposed by other methods, should be sent to an approved sanitary landfill.

Burnable waste such as paper, cardboard, wood, brush, etc. may be burned in a contained facility (barrel) or in a safely located and maintained brush pile. At present no permit is required for burning because of the farm’s location in Grant Township. However, the Lawrence Fire Department should be notified prior to burning a brush pile and after completion of the burn. Brush pile fires should be attended at all times, and thoroughly extinguished before they are left unsupervised. All reasonable safety precautions must be observed when burning, including selecting an appropriate day with minimal wind, having tools and water available, excluding livestock from the burn area, and supervising fires at all times. Fires should not be allowed to create smoke that would be a nuisance to the neighbors.

Dead animals and slaughter waste shall be disposed by burial at least 3′ deep in a designated area, or shall be composted for at least 1 year in properly constructed and maintained animal compost facilities. A rough map of the location of all burials shall be maintained to minimize digging up an old grave when creating a new one.

New additions to the animal compost piles shall be covered immediately with at least 8″ of compacted barn waste, hay, dry leaves, or straw, and pile must be thoroughly wetted within 24 hours and monitored to prevent objectionable odors. If objectionable odors are noticed, additional cover and water shall be added until the problem is remedied. Outside of pile shall be protected with metal panels, and the top of the pile shall be covered with chain link fencing to prevent scavengers from digging in the pile.


Pinwheel Farm is bordered by a major public drainage ditch on the west side of the pasture, as well as a smaller local drainage area on the north. The Conservation Reserve Program set-aside ground provides protection for these waterways from run-off from farm operations. Nevertheless, at times of heavy rainfall the entire farm may be covered in standing water for short periods of time. Farm activities should be conducted in a manner such that animal wastes or excessive organic fertilizers dissolved or suspended in water are confined as much as possible to PWF property, flowing neither to the drainage ditches nor to neighbors’ yards.
Stormwater from roofs should be recycled for agricultural or household use whenever feasible.


All household and farming activities should be carried out in such a manner as to avoid contamination of the groundwater. Water table is at approximately 20′, and soil is highly permeable, so it should be assumed that any liquid or soluble material placed on the ground or run through the septic system will eventually reach the groundwater, on which the farm and many of its neighbors depend for irrigation, livestock water, and household use, and drinking.

Landowner’s written permission is required, in addition to compliance with all applicable regulations and Best Management Practices, for any work that might significantly affect the groundwater such as well installation or changes to sanitary waste disposal systems.


No business activities may be conducted that would result in a significant export of soil from the farm. For example, selling nursery stock potted in PWF soil is prohibited. Importation of soil from other locations is forbidden without written permission of the landowner.

Rocks and gravel may be imported to the farm for specific essential uses including drainage around hydrants; resurfacing of existing driveway; or use in mixing cement. Other uses or placement of rocks or gravel must be approved by the landowner prior to importation. Sand may be used at will anywhere on the farm.

When possible, farming, repair and construction activities should be carried out with a minimum of disturbance to the existing soil location, profile, structure and ecology. This favors no-till methods over hand digging, and hand digging over mechanical tillage.

Potentially toxic minerals such as copper must not be applied to the soil. Occasional limited topical use for specific health concerns (i.e., footrot in sheep) may be made with careful attention to the long-term consequences of non-degradable toxins in the environment, bearing in mind that sheep can bioaccumulate copper to toxic levels much quicker than other animals.

Activities, especially those involving access by motor vehicle, should take into consideration soil conditions to avoid compaction and/or rutting of the soil.


Reasonable precautions should be taken in daily activities as well as decision-making to avoid importation and establishment of life forms, including disease organisms, parasites, weeds, vermin, etc., at Pinwheel Farm that:

• Are not already present in the Pinwheel Farm environment;
• Would be difficult, time-consuming, or costly to eradicate from the Pinwheel Farm environment; and
• Would negatively affect the health or productivity of desirable species at Pinwheel Farm.

Precautions include, but should not be limited to:

• Carefully assessing the health status of any live animals and plants to be brought to Pinwheel Farm, and not bringing to the farm any plants or animals that may be infected with a communicable disease or parasite;
• Being aware of the potential for bringing in disease organisms or parasites on raw agricultural products brought to the farm, such as feedstuffs, fiber or other animal products from other farms, and using appropriate selection, segregation, and disposal methods to prevent infection/infestation; and
• Being aware of the potential to transport disease organisms or parasites on clothing, shoes, equipment, vehicle tires, etc., that have been used on other farms, and decontaminating or restricting access to the farm of such vectors.


Farming and household operations should be carried out in such a way as to minimize any odor problems that might affect the neighbors. Care should be taken to avoid situations creating or leading to undue air-borne particulate matter, including dust, noxious pollen from non-economic plants, or heavy smoke.


Farming, daily living, and recreational/cultural activities shall be carried out in such a way that does not produce loud or objectionable noise. In part this is for the sake of our neighbors, but loud noises can also stress the farm’s animals, both domesticated and wild.

Examples of specific activities that should be limited, if not prohibited, include:

• Keeping of peafowl, guinea hens, donkeys, or other livestock that utter loud, persistent, piercing sounds;
• Loud spiritual or creative activities such as drum circles;
• Operation of power equipment outside of normal waking hours.

February, 2010

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