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Sarah Red-Laird works with bee hives. A fundraising dinner Friday in Ashland will support local bee projects.

Bee Girl offers honey of a fundraiser

(Editor's note: The date of the event listed in this story has been corrected.)

If you would like to help the thriving Bee Girl Organization educate and spread its bee conservation program, help bee understanding in its programs for third graders — and get a yummy, honey-oriented dinner at the same time, check out its annual dinner-fundraiser Saturday at Ashland’s Community Center.

The “hive-to-table” dinner raises money for a weeklong kids’ bee program, presented in the spring, in cooperation with Southern Oregon University. Sarah Red-Laird and her team are also working on developing a bee camp, starting in summer 2019.

“Our two main goals are creating regenerative bee pasture and working on new agricultural systems that help farmers grow habitat for bees using the regenerative methods — that is, no-till farming and planting lots of flowers for bees,” Red-Laird says. “These sequester carbon from the atmosphere and build soil.”

This, she explained, is a step beyond sustainable farming, which tilled soil, she says, “disturbing and wrecking soil, releasing carbon and destroying ground nesting bee habitat. We’re trying to get the carbon out of the air and into the soil without disturbing it.”

Regenerative agriculture is free of “intensive industrial techniques” and is the farming our great-grandparents did, she says, adding, “We’re taking the knowledge of our ancestors and applying new technology,” in a way that doesn’t defeat the purposes of regenerative farming.

Her website, https://www.beegirl.org/farmingforbees, explains her “Farming for Bees” goals:

“To develop a low maintenance and inexpensive flower ‘regenerative bee pasture’ for the land manager to both substitute for chemical fallow, and to interplant in pasture for an environmentally and economically improved area for farmers to harvest or graze. We also hope to provide a strong nectar flow to feed bees and provide a honey crop for beekeepers.

“Our second goal is to develop a nutritious buckwheat flower variety for bees. Our aim is to to produce a unique, flavorful, and valuable honey flow for beekeepers to capitalize upon, especially during the ‘nectar dearth’ when natural nectar and pollen is rare. This variety will double as a “trap crop” and keep them from predating on wine grapes.”

Each course of the fundraising dinner will include Bee Girl honey from her hives on East Nevada Street. Among the dishes, cooked up by Chef Kristen Lyon, are honey pickled cucumber mint salsa in tortilla bites, Rogue Creamery cheese with plum and sage chutney and crystalized honey on toasts, honey lime grilled halibut, and Bee Girl’s favorite, stone fruit upside-down cake with candied rosemary and bourbon honey whipped cream.

The Bee Girl Banquet begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Live music is by Jeff Kloetzel and Bob Evoniuk and a silent auction will be held. Prices and tickets are at https://www.beegirl.org/hivetotable.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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