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Courtesy photo
Megan Carlisle in the greenhouse at Jackson Wellsprings.

Act Locally: Session Thursday offers chance to ramp up to Drawdown

“When you travel overseas, you can really feel the influence of the West Coast on other countries,” Megan Carlisle observed. “Seattle was in the vanguard back in the ‘90s; Portland in the 2000s. But we were looking for a place on the front edge of culture.” And so, in 2015, Megan and her partner decided to join her parents who had recently moved to Ashland. “We sensed that Ashland was gaining notoriety, and that people were flocking here.”

A short time after arriving, Megan found her position as Jackson Wellsprings’ head gardener by luck. Her mother, Linda Reppard, an organizer for Jean Houston’s Odyssey program, was in discussion to rent the facilities, when someone mentioned Wellsprings was in need of an individual to tend the plot of land that produces vegetables for its deli counter. The job was perfect for Megan’s skillset. For the past two years, Megan has resided on the property with her now-husband, while overseeing a team of interns who assist her in cultivating the grounds.

As part of the internship program, entitled Seed to Skillet, she also teaches weekly classes based upon David Holmgren’s 12 Principles of Permaculture. Permaculture is defined as: “Thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behavior in a world of less energy and resources” (see permacultureprinciples.com). Or, as Megan puts it: “Permaculture is an integrated, whole-system design, with stacking functions. We’re putting the FUNK back into stacking functions.” As evidenced by the lush abundance of the Wellsprings’ garden, Permaculture’s principles clearly have a positive outcome when put into practice.

Recently Megan participated in a training by Ashland’s Drawdown group (see www.dailytidings.com/news/20180502/act-locally-find-something-you-can-do-and-do-it). Megan recognized similarities between Project Drawdown’s principles and the ones she teaches her own interns.

“Drawdown’s goal is that between the years 2020 and 2050 we can reverse global warming. (Like Permaculture) it also looks at the earth as a whole system, at all the aspects that are contributing to global warming.” Enthused by this message, Megan will set aside her usual subject matter and instead host a series of Drawdown workshops at Jackson Wellsprings (2253 Highway 99). An introductory class will be offered from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, July 5. Subsequent to that, the Drawdown group will conduct a four-part community action course on Thursday evenings, beginning from 7-9 p.m. July 19. (There is no charge, but donations are requested.)

Readers can meet Megan and the Drawdown team at their monthly public potluck lunch at noon Saturday, July 7, at the Bellview Grange (1050 Tolman Creek Road). Interested parties can find out more about Project Drawdown, and/or sign up for the workshop series at connect.pachamama.org or by writing directly to Megan at permaculture@gardener.com.

After the July Drawdown series, Megan will continue teaching her Permaculture program, which is open to the general public; the focus will be upon climate solutions. Additionally, college students and other adults can consider applying for a slot in the 2019 internship program, which will begin next spring. Again, Megan’s personal email is the most effective way to reach her.

When asked for one concrete action readers could consider taking, Megan suggested: “Soil is one of the largest stores of carbon, and by building soil we are drawing down carbon out of the atmosphere. We all need to work to create healthy, living soil.” That means fostering favorable bacteria, fungi, worms and other life forms that break down compost and encourage plant growth. (Implied in this statement is the avoidance of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and extraneous antibiotics used in the process of raising crops and livestock.) Readers are welcome to visit Megan at the Wellsprings garden and witness for themselves the success of her horticultural techniques.

Ashland resident, author and anthropologist Nina Egert has been a lay environmentalist since the early 1970s.

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