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3-Day Biodynamic Workshop in Ojai, Farm to Table Dinner & A Movie

Bringing Biodynamics Down to Earth . . .
from Cosmos to Compost

Friday July 27th, Saturday July 28th & Sunday July 29th, 2012

ImageBiodynamic farming is a powerful and proven system of farming organically. Utilized heavily around the world, in North America farmers have yet to take full advantage of this elegant natural system.

California biodynamic farmer and educator Gena Nonini will teach how to implement biodynamic practices in a commercial-scale farming enterprise, small urban farm, and all facets of landscaping.   A basis in theory followed by a lot of practical knowledge will enable you to put biodynamic practices to work on your farm, in your yard, at your hotel, golf course or container gardens.

Workshop Price: $275. (Group discount available.)
Please call to reserve your spot: 805-646-4294. Space is limited to 50 people.

Group Rates:
Workshop for 3 or more: $225 ea.
Workshop & dinner together: $325 ($225 for workshop & $100 for dinner.)

To purchase workshop tickets now, please click here.

Or you can send your tax-deductible donation, check payable to:
CRA (Center For Regenerative Agriculture),                                                                         w/ notation: Biodynamic Workshop.                                                                                    Mail check to Transition to Organics, 1129 Maricopa Hwy,                                           PMB 190, Ojai, CA 93023.

Day 1 – Biodynamic Agriculture: Background and History
A deeper look at the role of ‘natural’ law as defined by science vs. “cosmic” law as defined by the works of Goethe and Steiner. Intensive full day with lunch and dinner break. Lunch included.

Day 2 – Practical Applied Biodynamics (with part of the day on a biodynamic orchard).  Paradigm Shift in Thinking: The fundamental shift in thinking required for biodynamic practice. The role of fertility in relation to composting, cover cropping, soil structure and humus formation and the integration of biodynamic practices.

Class ends with a screening of the film “How To Save The World One Cow, One Man, One Planet” at the Ojai Theater, 4pm.  (Included in price for workshop, or separately: $10 at the door.  For more info, see below.)

6:30pm: Evening Farm To Table Dinner  ~  Please join us for an amazing evening of great food, great talk, new and old friends, in the citrus orchard under Ojai’s pink sky.

Dinner Price: $125. (Group discount available.)
Please call to reserve your spot: 805-646-4294.
Space is limited. Reservations required.

Group Rates:
Dinner, 2 tickets: $110 ea.
Dinner, 3 -7 tickets: $100 ea.
Workshop & dinner together: $325 ($225 for workshop & $100 for dinner.)

To purchase dinner tickets now, please click here.

Or you can send your tax-deductible donation, check payable to:
CRA (Center For Regenerative Agriculture),
with notation: Farm to Table.
Mail check to Transition to Organics,
1129 Maricopa Hwy, PMB 190, Ojai, CA 93023.
Checks must be received no later than July 21st.

(Movie and Dinner can be purchased separately from the workshop.)

Day 3 – Bringing biodynamics into the landscape arena. All aspects of BD principles, preps and applications will be covered in this wonderful morning focusing on landscaping and backyard food gardens.

Gena Nonini is the owner of Marian Farms and a master distiller. She studied Agriculture Business Management at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California and did her graduate work in Agribusiness at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Gena is sought after as an accomplished biodynamic farmer and teacher throughout the United States and Canada. She serves on a number of boards and offers private consulting services as well. Nonini is the president of the board of the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics and president of the board of the Biodynamic Trade Association.

Marian Farms was the first certified Demeter Biodynamic vineyard in the Americas in 1995. In addition to the vineyard, Marian Farms was the first citrus, almond and distillery operation in the Americas to be Demeter-certified. Today, Marian Farms is a 100+ acre, horticultural diversified farm with a 5,000 square foot distillery and CSA operation.

Transition to Organics presents…

“How To Save the World, One Man, One Cow, One Planet”

4:00pm, Saturday, July 28th, 2012 at the Ojai Playhouse, 145 East Ojai Ave. Ticket Price: $10 per person at the door

About the movie:                                                                                                                                 “I just watched your movie and I have unbelievable chills, and an excitement that I can barely find words to express. I will do what I can to spread this word.”  Marsha Weiner, Food Muse Media

“A beautiful prayer of hope – with the David versus Goliath reality clearly stated.”  William E. Mark, author, ‘The Holy Order of Water’

“How to Save the World is amazing. Indeed it may be the answer to the most pressing problem of world food. Do get yourself a copy.”  Dr Robert Anderson, Union of Concerned Scientists

Transition to Organics (TTO) is a project of Center for Regenerative Agriculture (  TTO’s focus is to support the Earth by working with Nature. We are committed to inspiring and educating land stewards, offering workshops, conferences and hands-on advice about how to build self-nourishing systems which create happy, healthy farms, gardens and communities.


Organic Pest Control

Organic Pest Control

Earth Friendly (Cedar Oil) Products ~ For Family, Pets, Lawn & Garden, Farm and Livestock

FOR SCORPION, MOSQUITO, FLEA, and TICK CONTROL inside and outside premises, Natures Defender PCO Choice is a Chemical Free Solution specially created for Pre or Post treatment of insect infestations.

It can be applied with hose end, trigger, compression and pressure applicators. It is designed for immediate insect control results of inside and outside treatments for Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Governmental, Equine and Dairy entities.

It is effective for control of Mosquito, Flea, Fly, Chigger, No-See-Um, Mite, Bed Bug, Japanese Beetle, Scorpion, Carpet Beetle, Ant, Mole Cricket and numerous other Non-Beneficial Insects. Natures Defender PCO CHOICE is also effective in control of GRUBS when applied on turf areas experiencing grub infestations that often result in damage to the sod. It can also be used in Misting and Irrigation Systems.

The product is considered Safe to Children and Pets and has no effect on beneficial insects such as Lady Bugs, Butterflies and amphibians such as Frogs and Toads. It is classified as a Minimum Risk Pesticide by the EPA. NO APPLICATORS LICENSE REQUIRED. Normal safety precautions should be practiced when using this product. Natures Defender PCO Choice is sold in quart and gallon containers.

4 oz. to 1 gallon of water.

From Ventura County Star: Beekeepers ask EPA to ban pesticide, protect bees

Beekeepers ask EPA to ban pesticide, protect bees

Ventura County Star

From Ventura County Star: Beekeepers ask EPA to ban pesticide, protect bees

Beekeepers ask EPA to ban pesticide, protect bees

Ventura County Star

AB 1625 (Allen): Transition to Organics Act. (California Assembly Bill)

We need to find out more about AB 1625 (Allen)

Transition to Organics Act.

Existing law prohibits a food from being sold as organic unless it meets certain criteria, and accurate and specific records are kept detailing its production, handling, and sale.

This bill would enact the California Transition to Organics Act of 2012. The bill would establish the Transition to Organics Fund in the State Treasury, which would consist of moneys from federal, industry, and citizen sources. The bill would limit the expenditure of moneys from the fund to providing financial assistance to persons who transition their uncertified farms to certified organic farms, and to covering administrative and operational expenses incurred in administering the act, as specified. The fund would be administered by the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, as provided, and the secretary would be authorized to adopt regulations to carry out the provisions of the act. The bill would also authorize the secretary to levy a civil penalty, as provided, upon a person who renders or furnishes false information to the secretary under the act.

via AB 1625 (Allen): Transition to Organics Act. (California Assembly Bill).

Label GMOs, Genetically Modified Foods – California Committee For The Right to Know – A 2012 Ballot Initiative Campaign

Where Can I sign? Because this is a California Ballot Initiativate, we need in-person, physical signatures. We cannot gather online and have until April 22nd to gather 800,000 signatures to get this on the 2012 California Ballot.

To sign in Ojai, go to Rainbow Bridge.   There’s a table in the front of the store.

via Label GMOs, Genetically Modified Foods – California Committee For The Right to Know – A 2012 Ballot Initiative Campaign.

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:

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.

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:

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.

Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Begin forwarded message:


Matthew Boeck, Organic Horticulturist for Jay’s Landscapes Inc. Carpinteria, CA  Specializing in Large Estate Resource Management, Organic plant protection for fire, frost and pests. Multiple winner of California Landscape Contractors Association Beautification Awards for mid and large size Landscape Maintenance. … Continue reading

Organic Weed Management in Orchards and Vineyards

Tree Fruits: Organic Production Overview

by National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

excerpt pgs 22-24

Organic Weed Management

Some weed control methods, such as smother crops, are discussed in the Site Preparation section above. This type of cover cropping is an important tool for weed management that also contributes to good soil management, fertility, and pest management.


Organic Mulch

Mulching is a powerful weed management strategy that can also contribute to good soil management, if appropriate natural materials are used. After a planting is established, weeds can be suppressed by applying thick layers of mulch. This can also create habitats for beneficial arthopods, including generalist predators such as big-eyed bugs, soft-bodied flower beetles, and spiders. Organic mulches are usually applied in a circle around tree trunks or vines, and down the whole row in blueberries.

Commonly, tree fruit growers keep mulches away from the tree trunks, particularly in winter, to prevent voles or mice from gnawing on the bark and damaging young trees. Keeping mulches 8 to 12 inches away from the trunk also reduces the likelihood of crown rot and other diseases in susceptible species—most notably apples on certain root- stocks.(23)

Mulch materials may include straw, spoiled hay, leaves, yard trimmings, woodchips, and sawdust. Many of these materials are inexpensive. Still, it’s wise to weigh the benefits and risks of each, including hauling costs and the risks of their containing impurities and prohibited materials.

Municipal greenwaste may be available, either raw or from municipal or commercial composting operations. Growers must monitor the incoming product and remove any trash to keep undesirable material out of their fields. Growers should ask compost producers about the sources of their materials and any pesticides that may persist in them. Of particular concern are clopyralid and picloram, herbicides that are extremely resistant to breakdown, even after composting. The sale and use of these materials is restricted in some areas. A Washington State University study showed treated grass clippings to be the primary source of clopyralid entering the organic waste stream. Experience from California, Oregon, and Washington shows that at levels of 1 to 10 parts per billion, clopyralid adversely affects sensitive vegetable crops.(21, 22)

Because organic mulches decompose over time, they require periodic re-applications in order to continue suppressing weeds. However, their decomposition provides other benefits. Mulching with organic matter enhances soil aggregation and water-holding capacity.(4) Researchers from 1937 to the present have consistently found that mulching is the best orchard-floor management system for retaining moisture.(15) In Michigan research, mulching was as effective as irrigation in encouraging tree growth.(24) Organic mulches can have positive effects on tree growth, with improvements in soil quality and shifts toward beneficial nematodes.(27) Mulch can also benefit the crop by moderating soil temperatures, thus reducing plant stress.

Organic mulches provide slow-release nutrients for the long-term health and fertility of the soil. Research indicates that potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen (primarily from the slow breakdown of the mulch) are more available in mulched systems than in non-mulched systems.(4) Some growers express concern that sawdust may acidify their soil or bind nitrogen in the soil. However, these effects are minimal if the sawdust is not tilled into the soil.

Raising organic matter on the farm is one way to ensure sufficient, clean mulching material. Farm-raised hay grown outside the orchard can provide weed-free mulch. Cover crops may be grown between tree rows, mowed, and gathered around the trees. Some small-scale growers use the biomass from orchard alleyways, cutting cover crops with a sickle-bar mower and hand-raking the material under the trees. Larger-scale operations often use forage wagons, straw-bale spreaders, or specialized equipment to mecha- nize mulching jobs. King Machine Co. (25) offers a small, trailer- or truck-mounted square-bale chopper and blower suitable for most fruit crops. Millcreek Manufacturing Co. (26) has developed a row mulcher especially suitable to blueberry, bramble, and grape culture, but also useful in tree fruit orchards. The Millcreek machines are designed to handle bulk organic materials such as sawdust, wood chips, bark, peat, and compost.


Geotextile mulches are paper or woven plastic fabrics that suppress weed growth. While they allow some air and water penetration, they may reduce water infiltration, whereas organic mulches increase infiltration.(27) Geotextile mulches do not provide the advantages of adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil, and if synthetic, they must eventually be removed. Geotextiles have a high initial cost, though this may be partially recouped in lower weed-control costs over the material’s expected field-life—5 to 10 years for polyester fabric; 2 to 3 years for paper weed barriers. Still, some growers find them useful for weed suppression in orchards, tree plantations, and cane fruit culture. The ATTRA publication Sustainable Pecan Production provides more detail on the use of geotextiles and outlines additional methods of weed control, including mechanical cultivation, mulches, wood chips, and living mulches.

Sheet Mulch

You can also create weed barriers by sheet mulching: laying down layers of card- board or newspaper and covering them with organic material. Sheet mulching increases the efficacy of organic mulch as a barrier against emerging weeds. Organic growers should avoid cardboard that is waxed or impregnated with fungicide, as well as color print and glossy paper, in order to be compliant with the National Organic Program standards (7 CFR §205.601(b)(2)(i) and 205.601 (c)).


Cultivation—using mechanical tillage and weed harrowing implements—is the most widely used weed-management practice in fruit production. In systems that maintain permanent vegetation between rows, cultivation may be limited to the tree row under the dripline in an orchard, or extended 1 to 3 feet from the edge of the hedgerow in bramble plantings. The reverse is true where mulches are used in the tree row, and cultivation is used to control weeds and incorporate cover crops in the alleyways. In any case, cultivation must be kept shallow to minimize damage to crop roots and to avoid bringing weed seeds to the surface.

Hand cultivation—enhanced with the use of a wheel hoe—can be effective in small-scale plantings. In large-scale plantings of trees or vines, where in-row tillage is desired, “mechanical hoes” such as the Weed Badger (28) or Green Hoe (29) are very useful. These tractor-mounted, PTO-driven cultivators can till right up to the tree or vine without damaging the plant. At- tachment options include powered rotary tillage tools and scraper blades that can move soil either away from or toward the base of the crop plants. Scraper-blade attachments, commonly known as “grape hoes,” have been used in vineyards for decades.

Herbicides Allowed for Use in Organic


A few herbicides currently emerging on the market are allowable for organic production, with restrictions on the location of their use. There is ongoing research on using materials such as vinegar, corn gluten, and citric acid as herbicides, although they are not yet widely used by certified organic growers. Such materials may have applications in organic systems, such as for spot treatment of noxious weeds.

Weeder Geese, Chickens, and Ducks

For many years, farmers have used geese to control weeds in perennial and annual crops, including strawberries, blueberries, bramble fruits, and tree orchards. In Oklahoma, researchers at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture used weeder geese in commercial-scale blueberry and strawberry production, with portable electric fencing to keep the birds in a specific zone in the plant row.(30) Investigators at Michigan State University studied the impacts of populations of domestic geese and chickens in a non-chemical orchard system. They found that the geese fed heavily on weeds—especially grasses—and also on windfall fruit.(31) In general, geese are more effective against emerging or small grass weeds, and they have a particular preference for Bermuda grass and Johnson grass—weeds that can be especially troublesome in orchards.(32) ATTRA has additional information on weeder geese available on request.

Those who have raised chickens know how enthusiastically they devour fresh vegetation. If the area they inhabit is small, they will strip it to the dirt. Properly managed, however, their foraging characteristics can be used to the grower’s advantage.

Fred Reid is an innovative producer of raspberries and vegetables in Canada who has successfully employed his flocks of chickens in weed management. He uses a system of fencing to keep chickens in certain areas to accomplish a thorough job of weeding and insect control. He notes that if the vegetation has grown too high and the plants become too fibrous, the chickens will not eat them. However, if you mow tall vegetation in advance, the chickens will process it readily. He excludes the chickens from raspberry plots when the new, tender leaves are emerging and, of course, near harvest time.(33)

Flame Weeding

Flame cultivation uses directed heat to kill weeds. It works not by burning the weeds but by searing them and causing the plant cells to rupture. Farmers began using tractor-mounted flamers in orchard and row crops in the 1940s.(34) Tech- nology and technique have both been refined considerably in recent years. Several tools now commercially available, including flame, infrared, and steam weeders, make heat a viable option for some weed management applications. See the ATTRA publication Flame Weeding for more information.