MENDOCINO Co., 4/11/2017 — The Eel River Recovery Project will hold an event on sustainable cannabis farming at the Willits environmental hub on April 14. Here’s the press release, with details:
The Eel River Recovery Project is hosting a discussion about assisting cannabis farmers in the Eel River watershed with becoming more sustainable so that the burgeoning industry can be compatible with ecosystem recovery. The purpose of the forum is to explore the idea of locating a sustainable cannabis center at the Willits Hub, so that farmers could “drop in” to get information on water conservation and water pollution prevention. The event will take place on Friday evening, April 14 from 6-9 PM and will be preceded by a fish barbeque.
The evening will be moderated by Bruce Hilbach-Barger of ERRP and the discussion will be open to local experts and practitioners to contribute their perspective. Presenters will include Anna Birkas and Noah Cornell of Village Ecosystems, small organic cannabis farmer Mickey Bailey, Traci Pellar of the Mendocino Wildlife Association (MWA), and Pat Higgins also of ERRP.
In 2015, ERRP did extensive outreach to the cannabis community in the southern Eel River watershed as part of a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board. ERRP contractors hosted events to spread information about agricultural best practices, conducted model farm tours, and visited 70 cannabis farms to render technical assistance on how to avoid pollution and to conserve water. Pat Higgins of ERRP will make a short presentation on the findings of Eel River Monitoring and Water Quality Awareness Pilot Project Final Report, which is available on-line at www.eelriverrecovery.org. Data collected related to the cannabis enterprises were confidential, as was the location of where services were rendered, but summary data indicate more need for work to attain sustainability.
Anna Birkas will discuss why understanding the water cycle on your land is essential to maintaining your water supply. Roads that are out-sloped and spill into a vegetated berm promote groundwater recharge, while roads with in-board ditches and culverts accelerate drainage and can cause major erosion. She will touch on applications of permaculture, like using a bio-swale to trap nutrients and water from your garden. This can buffer impacts to nearby streams and the swale can support an area where an orchard can thrive or even dry farming may be possible. Anna will also touch on her recent experiences assisting small farmers coping with new regulations and share tips on overcoming the hurdles.
Noah Cornell is a soil fertility expert and will discuss how building living soils can not only increase your garden yield, but also cut down on the amount of water your plants need. Mixing green waste, chicken or cow manure, and mushroom mycelia creates a soil medium with which plants co-evolved. Mushroom mycelia aid plant nutrient and moisture uptake and mushroom compost can produce amazing crops using one third to one tenth of the water of plants growing in store-bought soil media. Noah will also share information on making compost tea, for farmers who lack a surplus of organic material. Videos of Noah and Anna, as well as other best practices experts, are on the ERRP website and available on DVD.
Mickey Bailey will be sharing the perspective of a small farmer currently applying for legal status. He called ERRP in 2015 for technical assistance for his farm on the Eel River at the mouth of Woodman Creek downstream of Dos Rios. He was a volunteered as a citizen monitor and assisted with water temperature and cyanotoxin monitoring. Mickey has gone beyond just getting his own farm in order and has worked actively with his neighbors to promote sustainability in his watershed. The bottom of Mickey’s property abuts the old North Coast Railroad Authority railroad bed. He is allowing access and permission for the removal of their levee in order to re-establish Chinook salmon passage into lower Woodman Creek and facilitate passage of steelhead. He will be holding a celebration of the return of fish passage on April 29.
Traci Pellar will share her perspective on the impacts of cannabis farms on wildlife in Mendocino County. She is with the MWA that has a goal of helping “care for wild animals and their habitat through public education in cohabitation with wildlife, use of non-lethal wildlife management practices, and facilitation of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation” as noted on their website (http://www.mendowildlife.com/)
The doors will open at the Willits Hub, at 630 South Main Street, at 4:30 PM with snacks and drinks and a rock fish barbeque dinner will be served from 5-6 PM. No admission is required, but donations are welcome. Anyone wishing to donate to support the Willits Hub and efforts to raise enough for a year’s rent can donate on line at https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/64018. Anyone with questions about the event can call Bruce Hilbach-Barger at 983-6169.