RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Two things drove Chris Baliko to steer his Ridgefield-based landscaping business Growing Solutions LLC to offer organic services. One was business, the other was practical.
“When we first started going organic, there were very few companies that offered these services,’’ said Baliko, who started his business with co-owner Paul Fujitani in 2002 and went organic in 2006. “Now there are a lot more, that’s definitely the trend. There’s a lot more demand from customers. They say, ‘I don’t want my kids and pets playing in a landscape that has been treated with chemicals.’ And we see a lot more companies going that route, too.”
Baliko, an accredited organic land care professional and state-licensed arborist in Connecticut, said demand wasn’t the only reason Growing Solutions turned to organic products. He and Fujitani were also mindful of personal, family and employee safety.
“We were doing a lot of the applications ourselves,’’ Baliko said. “When you’re using synthetic products, you can get that your clothes and your shoes. We piled our clothes in the garage. We had to wash and rinse separately. You didn’t want that to mingle with what your kids were wearing and bring it into the house. As we grew, we had employees that had to make those applications. So people were asking for this, and we wanted to protect ourselves and our families. It felt like the right thing to do.”
The Growing Solutions team designs landscapes and manages properties with organic products. Other services include large tree care, lighting, irrigation and season displays.
“We’re landscapers, we’re stewards of the land,'' Baliko said. “That’s kind of the motivating factor behind everything we do. If we can educate one person or one employee and use fewer synthetic products, than we’re successful. That’s what motivates us.”
Growing Solutions’ 12-member team manages properties throughout Fairfield County. Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc with many properties in October. After a long winter, many property owners are turning to Growing Solutions to help put things back together.
“We picked up a lot of lawn renovations and plantings where there was a lot of damage from the saltwater,’’ Baliko said. “In some places we’re waiting to see how the plants respond this spring. We’ll do what we can to help them out, running irrigation systems to leach the salt from the soil and adding compost to planting beds and lawns. But after a storm like that, it’s going to take some time for the landscapes to completely recover.”
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