Feature Interview with Chip Osborne: Part Three
This is the final installment of a three part interview with Chip Osborne about the concepts and philosophy behind the launch of the Organic Landscape Association.
What do you see as the biggest area of resistance to the wider adoption of organic landscape management?
The biggest resistance will continue to come from the conventional industry.
The conventional industry lobby is significant. They have been presenting the same arguments against organic landscape management for ten years. These recycled arguments are losing steam and getting weaker by the day. What we now know and can show with multiple case studies, is that it is possible to manage a high-quality landscape without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. When we do that, the decision to get rid of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers becomes a decision based on the fact that natural organic practices are effective.
“What we can show with multiple case studies is that it is possible to manage a high-quality landscape without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.”
When presented with the results, we are seeing not only more legislative and regulatory change but also change by choice. When we demonstrate the results of natural organic management through successful projects, and as we support more industry professionals producing these results, the choice of using organic methods becomes a no brainer for decision makers.
It seems the OLA is positioned to disrupt and evolve landscape management practices positively.
As the Organic Landscape Association is rolled out and becomes an association with a membership that continues to grow, it is my firm belief that we will, in a very positive way, begin to change management practices. Credibility is really what it is all about.
As of now, there are a handful of successful companies and nonprofits around the country that are not united. With the OLA now helping to bring this message to people there will be strength in numbers. The reason that we have chosen a format that brings so much of the various market players and the public together to become a part of this is that it is this kind of support and credibility that will allow us to disrupt the status quo of landscape industry. We want the OLA to bring attention to, accelerate, and evolve the adoption of natural organic principles and products.
What can you say about the current state of the industry and market where we see fragmentation with many companies and municipalities entrenched in the old ways of landscape management?
I think the very first concept or idea that I ever had about the future of the organic landscape industry was the need to unite an extremely fragmented industry. When you look into the conventional side of the industry you have large national distributors where you can go into one building, under one roof, and find most of what you need to manage the landscape. From tools to pesticides, from fertilizers to grass seed. We do not have that in the organic industry.
There are companies that are supplying or delivering products that are all working independently. They are not unified towards a common goal of industry growth. We have practitioners that are not involved with each other and don’t learn from each other. They are all out here working independently. So the very first concept is to bring this all together so there is a collective resource to unite and support the industry.
The OLA can eliminate the fragmented nature of the industry and bring all players together to cooperate and learn from each other. It can be a place where everyone can experience and participate in prosperous market change.
What is the OLA Practitioners Council?
We decided to develop the concept of a Practitioners Council as an opportunity to group those OLA members that have sought organic education. These individuals have earned one of the current recognized organic industry accreditations and have dedicated themselves to organic education. The OLA Practitioners Council will bring together the people that currently possess the technical ability and knowledge in transitioning landscapes from chemical to natural practices as a valuable resource.
We want all members to benefit from the collective knowledge of this group through data collecting surveys, interviews and mentorship opportunities. Our Practitioners Council can serve the industry as it moves beyond the pioneering stage into the wide spread adoption of new proven best practices.
“Our Practitioners Council can serve the industry as it moves beyond the pioneering stage into the wide spread adoption of new proven best practices.”
What can we expect in the future for the OLA?
We are looking to aggressively grow the association. We will develop the content and resources that show there is a significant level of benefit to becoming a member and remaining a member over the course of time. We want our success to translate into your success. We will not be one of those organizations that simply take dues but provide little resources. We will be on the cutting edge of organic land management and continually provide content and programs that will enrich all members of the association.
What do you believe the OLA’s legacy will be? What lasting impact will it have?
The legacy of the Organic Landscape Association will be the unification of the industry. I believe the impact of this will be on both a large scale regarding the industry as a whole and a small scale with significant attention invested in our individual member’s success.
“The impact of the Organic Landscape Association will be on both a large scale regarding the industry as a whole and a small scale with significant attention invested in our individual member’s success.”
Those on the product side of the equation will benefit greatly from an educated and developed market. Practitioners will finally have a central hub to keep up to date with an industry that is rapidly evolving, as new science is continually emerging and new product development is happening all the time. The lasting impact to the everyday person who is not a part of the industry is that we will have collectively done consequential work to rid the landscape of unnecessary and harmful chemicals significantly, if not completely, over time.
When we read about what has happened with the widespread use of synthetic pesticides, the handwriting is on the wall. These types of high input aggressive practices can’t sustain themselves for another 100 years. The lasting impact of this association is to institutionalize what were once alternative practices as a viable way of land management that can meet high expectations when need be and can produce the desired results for a wide range of end users.
What is the next step you’d like someone reading this interview to take?
The Organic Landscape Association is the result of all of the thoughts and insights that were touched upon in this conversation. It would be my hope and desire that this conversation would resonate with you at your individual level or positions and stimulate you to join us. I would like to personally extend an invitation to you to join our email list or become a member and help us carry this mission into the future.