My annual sojourn to the Ecological Farming Conference

By January 30, 2007Sustainable Landscaping

My annual sojourn to the Ecological Farm Conference
began Wednesday morning January 25th, 2006. My trusty steed is my Linear recumbent bicycle. For me being an avid cyclist has always meant bringing along plenty of cotton tee shirts to change into as they get soaked in sweat. As I marked mile 8 of a fifty mile ride I thought twice about my old soaked tee shirt scenario and made a last minute pit stop at a bike shop in Aptos, Ca. The place is called the Bike Station Aptos. They were angels that set me off on the right foot as I proceeded on my ride. I splurged and purchased a set of bike under and over shirts. Now I was set for a warm and dry 40 + mile ride.
I have made this ride for the last six years from my hometown of Santa Cruz to the Asilomar conference grounds in Pacific Grove near Monterey. For the last ten years I have served on the Board of Directors of the Ecological Farming Association. I stepped off the board just last year. I now serve on the planning committee for the conference with my not so hidden agenda of promoting sustainable landscaping. As the conference starts that Wednesday with a bus tour of organic farms on the central coast. I resolved to turn my ride into my own private impromptu farm tour.
My first stop was Freddy and Ellen’s homestead in La Selva Beach. This is wonderful chunk of home ground where Freddy and Ellen propagate apple trees, eat and sell their own chicken eggs, sell and give away honey from their bee hives, forage for wild mushrooms, grow most of their own food, home school their children in the house they built themselves on the family property. What a life! No one was home so I said hello to their miniature cow, found myself an orange and continued on my way.
Next I stopped at a roadside shop called Little Baja. This place has a million dollars worth of inventory in clay pots and statuary. As I wondered around I found the bone yard where they put all the broken pots and statues. I remembered that my crew at Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping, was building a rock garden wall. I arranged then and there to return with a truck to buy a load of statues and pots for a song and a dance. Since making this stop I did indeed return and we have included a frog, an otter and a turtle into the garden wall much to the delight of our client and my landscape crew.
My next stop was a native plant restoration project I spotted off of a farm road. I found two women busy planting native plants for a wetland and water restoration project conducted by the Ca. State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Although I didn’t recognize her one of the women actually knew me. It is such a small world! They told me the intent was to actually monitor the water over time and report how the plants help improve water quality. I was very impressed! As I rode down the road a few more miles I spied fifteen field workers suited up with back pack sprayers, spraying a pesticide in an artichoke field. You bet I caught the drift. As I rode on I saw the farm truck with the sign Sea Mist Farms. They don’t know it yet but I renamed their farm Pesticide Drift Farms.
Twenty miles later as I tooled along the bike path in Monterey I saw ten whale spouts and a fluke rising up from Monterey Bay Sanctuary. It is such a remarkable thing to traverse by human power from one side of this bay all the way to the other side. There’s nothing like being under your own power in this way. I reminds me of my commitment to take care for this mother body of water of our central coast watershed.
As I attended the conference I told my story to all I met. I was told that the whales were celebrating my arrival as I rode in. I believe them! The whales are my brothers and sisters! During the conference I moderated two workshops. One by Alrie Middlebrook called Eating California, about all the great edible native California plants that we are blessed with in this state. The other workshop was by Tom Ward on Social Forestry. This was a thrilling session about bringing the forest back to people and bringing people back into the forest. A very inspiring Permaculture perspective thanks to one of our elders Tom Ward.
Finally, I had the great pleasure to host a mixer for Ecological Landscapers at the conference. I made my pitch for the Ecological Landscaping Association
We had an awesome meeting with about twenty five ecological landscapers. We were able to share all our stories in the mixer circle. I told them about my adventures and how the whales greeted me on my bike on my way there.

Well that, in an acorn shell is the story of my sojourn to the 26th annual Eco Farm Conference. Want to join me next year? Contact me at
Peace, pedals and Cheers,

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