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National Farm week applies to you too
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The weather is changing… finally.

The hot, dry summer is coming to a close and fall is beginning to creep in. My recently crispy grass is enjoying the slightly cooler air and frequent drinks of rainwater. It seems like it is growing as fast as a proverbial weed. However, its days are numbered — each time it is mowed could be the last this year.

There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than getting on the riding lawn mower and cutting the grass. There is something therapeutic about it — the solitude, the (relative) quiet. It gives one time to think. And that is something we don’t give ourselves much of in today’s hustle-and-bustle world.

So many of us use our yards and gardens as a form of refuge.

In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first National Farm Safety Week proclamation and National Farm Safety and Health Week has been recognized by Presidential Proclamation from every President since. This year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week is this week, running Monday through Saturday. You probably didn’t know that unless you happen to live on one of the 285 farms we have in Newton County and/or participate in the safety trainings offered by the Newton County Farm Bureau ( or 770-786-7201).

So you might be asking, what does this have to do with you?

Take out “farm” from the title and the safety information available applies to most of us, just on a smaller scale. In a society where we have instant access to so much information, we are often quick to discount things that we think don’t apply to us.

In 1944, we were still largely an agricultural nation so our history is rooted in farming (pun intended). Perhaps that is why some of us find enjoyment in our yards and gardens. Are you a rose grower? Perhaps tomatoes and peppers are more your speed? Or maybe you focus your green thumb on that grass!

Resources from the UGA Cooperative Extension Office are available to everyone ( It’s true that you might not need to know best practices for handling cattle. However, the tips for preventing injury by wearing proper clothing and safety gear apply to anyone who has ever mowed the lawn, operated a leaf blower, or fired up the chainsaw.

If you grow anything, you likely apply some sort of fertilizer, insecticide, fungicide or herbicide. Just the “cide” part of those names should encourage you to always follow the directions found on the product label. Please consider your application method and amount when you use. In this case, more does not always equal better. Another good rule of thumb is to mix and store these chemicals away from your well or storm drain to prevent contamination from accidental leakage.

If you have (or have had in the past 10 years) children that have attended school in Newton County, then you have probably heard the KCNB Puppet Show songs about storm water runoff — sing along with me, “Nothing but rain down the storm drain.” The chemicals we use in our gardens and on our lawns are some of the biggest contributors to stormwater pollution. Check out for more information.

So even if you are not one of our many farming operations in Newton County, you can celebrate National Farm Safety and Health Week… in your own back/front yard.

Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects and has led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.