Lawn fertilizers are a leading cause of toxic algae blooms

Lawn fertilizers are a leading cause of toxic algae blooms
Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Meyer with dogs Rex and Ace

The beautiful yards and gardens along the banks of the St. Johns River draw many to Northeast Florida’s wonderful neighborhoods, but keeping those yards lush and healthy comes at a price. 

No matter where you live in Duval County, runoff from conventional lawn and garden fertilizers eventually washes into the St. Johns River, causing deadly algae blooms that kill multitudes of fish annually. Statewide, the totals reach into the millions of pounds. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, these deaths can be directly attributed to nutrient pollution in stormwater runoff.

Is it possible to keep those lawns and landscapes vibrant without damaging the St. Johns River and her tributaries? That’s a question Jeff Meyer and the team at Johnny Appleseed Organic have spent years trying to answer.

The Jacksonville startup believes it has a solution in the form of its new product, ClimateYard™.

“As a long-time Jacksonville resident and a life-long outdoorsman, I have become increasingly concerned about the health of our aquatic ecosystems, which have deteriorated noticeably in my lifetime,” Meyer said. “ClimateYard™ is a way for homeowners and other stakeholders to enjoy a beautiful, lush landscape while making a tangible difference in reversing this troubling trend.”

ClimateYard™ works by leveraging ancient symbiotic relationships between plants, beneficial bacteria and subterranean fungi to keep yards healthy and vibrant without the use of environmentally toxic nitrogen fertilizers. By replacing conventional fertilizer with a scientifically proven blend of beneficial bacteria and fungi, ClimateYard™ fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and improves the availability of phosphorus that’s already there. And, it’s safe for children and pets to be in the yard immediately following application.

Shaped by a unique communal upbringing, Meyer has a special relationship with the land and a belief that when you work the earth, she gives back. His childhood was spent at his grandmother’s side, working the community garden, helping to sustain one of the seven Inspirationist villages in Amana, Iowa. The community gardens and kitchens fed the village.

Anne and Jeff moved to Jacksonville in 1980. By 1987, they were a family of four, with sons Forest and Scott, and living in the Ortega and Avondale areas. Forest, wife Shea and daughter Alice Grace now live in New Orleans. Scott and his wife Lindsay run Congaree and Penn Farm and Mills in northwest Jacksonville.

Meyer’s career in active conservation and sustainability pushed him to pursue the same goals in gardening, landscaping and farming. After acquiring genetic rights to the last surviving apple tree planted by John Chapman — the real-life American pioneer behind the Johnny Appleseed legend — he set up Johnny Appleseed Orchards, selling trees propagated from that last tree.

Johnny Appleseed Organic followed with the nation’s first Climate Farm™ — a sustainable agricultural project in southern Georgia that produces delicious, nutritious food while improving soil health and sequestering atmospheric carbon. The company launched its debut product, an eco-friendly garden fertilizer called ClimateGard™, in April 2021.

Now, Meyer has assembled a team of young environmental experts whose mission is to change minds, one yard at a time.  

“You may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but if you can do something for those in your community, you should,” he said. “These products bring your yard to life. When I was using conventional fertilizers, I never saw the abundance of butterflies, pollinators, and birds that I get to enjoy now. I’m thrilled that we get to share that experience with the rest of Jacksonville.”

Learn more about ClimateYard and sign up for a free consultation at

Track algae blooms in real time at

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