Ryan Corbett of Kelly’s Bobcat.

Grow green with Kelly’s Bobcat

The Natural Choice Green Business Award: The snow in town has finally melted, days are getting longer, and the warm sun has coaxed us into our yards to tend to our lawns and gardens. Here in Revelstoke, there is no question that people take pride in their yard, and that our perceptions on what constitutes a healthy lawn and garden are changing. The folks at Kelly’s Bobcat are well aware of this, and as such, have set their sights on leading the charge towards chemical-free landscaping.

The snow in town has finally melted, days are getting longer, and the warm sun has coaxed us into our yards to tend to our lawns and gardens. Here in Revelstoke, there is no question that people take pride in their yard, and that our perceptions on what constitutes a healthy lawn and garden are changing. The folks at Kelly’s Bobcat are well aware of this, and as such, have set their sights on leading the charge towards chemical-free landscaping.

You’ve likely seen the Kelly’s Bobcat trucks zipping around town in between job sites, which advertise their crew as Revelstoke’s “Green Team.” The “green” in “Green Team” started out as a literal reference to the green materials the team found themselves working with (read: grass). Since bringing their business to Revelstoke four years ago, however, owners Ryan Corbett and Joel Chevrier have focused on increasing the environmentally friendly services and products that they offer. Now, the “green” in “Green Team” also refers to the seven environmentally friendly tips that guide their landscaping business.

Kelly’s Bobcat’s latest business pamphlet identifies their “seven best ‘green’ lawn and gardening tips” that collectively provide advice on how to increase water efficiency, and provide options for “going organic.” Towards this end, the seven tips identify the value of making your own compost or purchasing an organic compost; the importance of using organic mulch to keep weeds down, feed your bedding plants, and conserve water; and the importance of planting drought tolerant plants and shrubs that are native to your area.

When asked, co-owner Ryan Corbett explains his transition away from chemical lawn applications as “common sense.” Corbett has worked in the landscaping business for over 10 years, and explains that most of the chemicals used on lawns today “just aren’t necessary.” He goes on to explain that the organic products they are using work better than anything else he’s worked with, and that he’s not worrying about his own health after handling them.

It is not surprising then that Corbett backs the City of Revelstoke’s impending by-law against the use of cosmetic pesticides. The draft by-law is scheduled to go through its third reading with town council at the end of this month, and will likely become law shortly there after. When this happens, Revelstoke will have reason to celebrate, as we will have one of the strongest by-laws governing the use of cosmetic pesticides in British Columbia.

The exact implications of our impending by-law, however, are a source of confusion for many local residents. Does this by-law apply to all lands in the Revelstoke area? Is Round-Up part of this ban? What are my options for getting rid of dandelions? What about my cherry trees?

To answer these questions and all others that residents may have, Revelstoke’s environmental coordinator Penny Page-Brittin will host an open house this Thursday, May 26 (6:30 p.m. –7:30 p.m. at the community centre) for exactly this purpose. At this event you will find out that the by-law only applies to lands that fall under municipal legislation such as city parks and residential areas. You will also find out that products like Round-Up will be banned, and that there are safer and effective alternatives available to you for managing your lawns and fruit trees.

A fruit tree net that works effectively to keep worms from getting access to your cherries is one example. If you visit Kelly’s Bobcat’s new store located near the recycling depot on Powerhouse Rd, they can help you find the right one. Or, if you call them up, they’ll even bring one to your house and install it for you. While you’re chatting with them, ask them about other chemical-free options of keeping the weeds down and your plants happily fertilized. Chances are they’ll invite you to their store to check out the array of natural products they carry – from garden mixes to worm tea. If you go, bring your own container because you can likely fill it up in their bulk section, thereby saving on packaging waste while you’re at it.

When asked what his motivation for “going green” was, Corbett explained that since moving to Revelstoke four years ago he realized that this was a place he wanted to stay. “When you find a place that you can see yourself in for a long time, you want to do your part to take care of it.”

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Hailey Ross writes The Natural Choice on behalf of the North Columbia Environmental Society. The column explores the movers and shakers of Revelstoke who are leading the way to sustainability. Proudly supported by the Columbia Basin Trust.