October 23, 2011-TTO to participate in Valley Wide discussion with Supervisor Bennett at Camp Comfort 2:30-5:00 pm

Transition to Organics was invited to participate in the Ojai Valley Wide Discussion with Supervisor Bennett.  We submitted the following list of accomplishments and recommendations.

Accomplishments toward Making the Ojai Valley a Model Green and Sustainable Community:

Transition to Organics has sponsored two successful, well-attended conferences this year. We also sponsored, along with Denise Ritchie (Malibu Compost), the screening of an important documentary, Queen of the Sun, What Are the Bees Telling Us, at the Ojai Theater, with the filmmaker Taggart Siegel and Ed Begley Jr. hosting the event.  Courtney Cole (Grounded by Nature), and Kim Ainsworth (owner of Redtail Ranch) joined us in sponsoring the after event, which was a memorable community gathering honoring the bees and beekeepers.  Organic and biodynamic farmers donated time, food and energy to prepare delicious dishes and treats for this incredible gathering.

The most notable result of our efforts is that we were instrumental in inspiring a Ventura County orchard to begin the transition to organics!  The orchard manager also manages other orchards, and we are hopeful that the success of this first orchard will spur the manager on to begin transitioning the others!

Our Transition to Organics Team includes Steve Sprinkel (Farmer & the Cook, Gozo Farm),  Matt Boeck (organic horticulturist and pest control advisor), and Gena Nonini (biodynamic expert and land manager for Marian Farms).  They are available for consultation and advice on how to best begin and follow through with transitioning to organics.

Also, because of the Queen of the Sun event, we have a newly formed Beekeepers Club meeting at the community meeting room next to Farmer and the Cook, monthly, as announced.  80 people are signed up in the club and 40 actually showed up for the first meeting.  The room was buzzing with enthusiasm in support of creating bee friendly, sustainable landscaping, backyards, orchards and agriculture in our valley.

Update:  We just got news that one of the attendees of the Queen of the Sun event (an orchard owner in San Diego County) who was inspired by the message of the movie, is in the first steps of transitioning!  Also: a local orchard manager and a golf course manager are seeing results with the biodynamic compost soil amendment, and are moving ahead in testing larger areas on the properties they manage.

Current Efforts or Future Plans in this area:

Transition to Organics is continuing to educate and inspire community members to honor the bees and support our local, sustainable farmers and fruit growers.  Transition to Organics has already spread to Carpinteria, where a community group, Carpinteria Transition 2 Organics, has formed!

We are planning the next Transition to Organics conference, details TBA.   We invite the whole community to participate!

Please visit our website:  www.sustainableojai.org

This website includes a resource page for all local sustainable organizations to send information and events to be posted.

Ojai Valley Wide Discussion Survey

#1   Making the Ojai Valley a model green and sustainable community:

Do you feel that the Ojai Valley is a model green and sustainable community or that there is more work to do in this area?

               Yes, the Ojai Valley is a model green and sustainable community                             _     X       More Effort is Needed

Do you have suggestions for additional steps needed in this area?

1. Encourage and support City, County, and State maintenance departments, landscapers, gardeners, farmers and orchard owners in our valley by offering information about cost effective, nontoxic alternatives to pesticides (which include herbicides).

2. Offer formal education programs, with obligatory participation by certain members of facilities management, including schools and parks.  Learn from local professionals who are already using nontoxic remedies in their landscape management.  Learn from other cities that are successfully using nontoxic alternatives to pesticides and herbicides, such as Arcata, California.

http://greenlivingideas.com/2010/03/31/17-pacific-northwest-cities-feature-pesticidefree-parks-playgrounds/

3. Eliminate spraying of toxic herbicides, using site-specific, efficient and timely use of safe alternatives, such as vinegar, flame torching (in spring, when weeds are just emerging), mulching, sheet mulching, utilizing goats as weed control, and other alternative methods.

4. Support biodiversity and grow healthy soil, thereby allowing the ecosystem to regenerate, and eliminate the need to use toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.  According to a USDA study, researchers show that Organic Farming Enhances Biodiversity and Natural Pest Control:

http://www.csrees.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2010news/07011_organic_study.html

5. Create a dialogue about the weed control issues facing the county and have some community input in the process. Indiscriminate use of pesticides is detrimental to the health of the community.  People are getting spayed in the face (without their knowledge and consent) as they are driving or walking on the bike path where county sprayers are using pesticides along the side of the road.

6. Instead of using fear tactics to discuss the Asian Citrus Psyllid, encourage growers to use mulch and compost to create healthy soil that retains water and supports the citrus trees, instead if expecting the use of pesticides to kill the pests.

7. Encourage local enforcement agencies to police and ticket Pesticide Applicators (landscapers/gardeners) whom do not have current Pesticide Applicator Licenses (either QAL, QAC, or Q) and are transporting unsecured/unlabeled pesticides in their commercial vehicles. A visit to any local landfill will present up to 50 of these unlicensed contractors an hour.

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