9/28/19 Ojai Town Hall Mtg

THE Town Hall Meeting on September 28th was a huge success!


Thank you to all the organizers and panelists including:


Actress & Health Advocate Diane Ladd

Josh & Rebecca Tickell, co-moderaters of the panel discussion, award winning filmmakers,  showing a preview clip of their new film, “Kiss the Ground”

Patty Pagaling, Executive Director, Transition to Organics

Julie Tumamait, local Chumash elder

Hannah-Beth Jackson, CA Senator representing District 19

Steve Sprinkel, local organic farmer,  President, Center for Regenerative Agriculture

Annemiek Schilder, Director, UCCE Ventura County/Hansen Agricultural REC

Connor Jones, Permaculturist, East End Eden

Adam Vega, a life long resident of Ventura County and a Community Organizer with Californians for Pesticide Reform, coordinating the Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety (VC-CAPS)

Erik Cutter, regnerative farmer, working at the Orange County Great Park with former California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura

Jonathon Katz, Ojai citrus grower

Tim Malloy, Professor of Law, Faculty Director, UCLA Sustainable Technology and Policy Program

Kathy Nolan, Landscape Architect and Ojai Planning Commissioner


Town Hall Meeting Panel, from Left Josh Tickell, Steve Sprinkle, Annemiek Schilder, Connor Jones, Adam Vega, Eric Cutter, Jonathon Katz, Tim Malloy, Kathy Nolan, not included in picture is Rebecca Tickell



Articles about the Town Hall Meeting


“COSTLY GAME” | Ojai locals confront pesticide spraying in town hall meeting

“COSTLY GAME” | Ojai locals confront pesticide spraying in town hall meeting

Pictured: Diane Ladd, actor and Ojai resident shows the mask she wears outside to prevent health impacts from pesticide spraying on citrus orchards around her home in Ojai.

Events and experiences are converging in the Ojai Valley, starting a groundswell response to an issue that has been marinating in Ventura County for decades: agricultural pesticide use.

“What the hell is happening? Of course the farmers are scared. I don’t want to hurt them, we want to help them,” said Diane Ladd, the 84-year-old actor and resident of the east end of Ojai. “That is our goal, but I’m not going to stand by and let them hurt me…it is a costly game they are involved in.”

Ladd is working with fellow community members organizing in the Ojai Valley to force a community conversation and action. Last Saturday, Sept. 28, about 300 people signed a petition at a town hall meeting in Ojai asking for steps to reduce pesticide spraying in the area.

In her office at her comfortable home, with her troupe of dogs at her feet, Ladd spoke about how she became acutely aware of the chemicals around her and how they are impacting her life.

“I’m healthy now, till they spray again. Do I want to take more antibiotics and steroids and be on the breathing machine again? No, I don’t. I’ve got work to do,” said Ladd, pounding her fist on the wood desk. She describes respiratory issues, scar tissue in her lungs and problems with her esophagus that required a procedure to correct. “I’ve got films to make, books to write. I’ve got a life to live and they have no right to interrupt my destiny.”

“I live here on the east side, and for years I did not pay attention. Of course I knew they were spraying,” she said with a subtle southern accent signaling her southern roots. Her home is surrounded by the orange orchards that make the Ojai Valley a picturesque place. She recalled an incident of spraying near San Antonio School a few years ago.

“A huge farm was being sprayed . . . and they have the sign on the ground of the skull and bones.” Ladd saw mist from the machine “rising and drifting towards the school . . . and the kids were all playing at lunchtime. So I called the school and said ‘get your kids inside, somebody is spraying poison.’” She couldn’t do more at the time — she was traveling a lot — and the incident fell to the back of her mind.

This summer, an incident with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Murray, brought it full circle.  “On June 7, I let my dog out for maybe 10 minutes at about 11: 30 [at night] to go pee and when he came back in it was horrible,” she recalled. “He moved like a train on a track and he wouldn’t stop. It was like a comet. He was terrorized . . . he had something on his paws. He was trying to lick it off and he was trying to climb the walls . . . We couldn’t stop him, my husband and I. Finally he turned over, with all four paws in the air, and had a seizure. Then he had a second seizure.” She called the veterinarian, “I got him out of bed and he met me at the clinic [ in Ojai ]. He put Murray in an oxygen chamber that saved his life.” She spoke with the vet by phone the next day to ascertain what had happened. After hanging up, “five minutes later I got a text from Rebecca Tickell . . . she sent a photo of a helicopter spraying . . . and said, ‘shut your windows and your doors — they were spraying yesterday and today.’”

“So we were at home, it was June 6, and a helicopter flew over our house,” said Rebecca Tickell, who lives off Cuyama Road in Ojai with her two children and husband, Josh. The Tickells are documentary filmmakers, focusing on environmental issues, but this was the first time they were experiencing something in their own backyard. “It was an aerial spraying helicopter. That morning we all started sneezing . . . our eyes got irritated, we were congested and honestly it made us feel a little confused, foggy, like it was hard to think.” She said they decided to “evacuate” to Santa Barbara. “As soon as we got to Ventura we opened up our windows and we stopped sneezing. That acute allergic reaction we were all having stopped. It was obvious we were having a reaction to the chemicals that were landing in our backyard. Literally.” Tickell said she reached out to neighbors, who shared a recent letter from a nearby grower.

“Our neighbors had gotten a letter from Barnard Ranch that they were going to be spraying,” Tickell said, noting that the letter was needed to protect her neighbors’ bee hives. “The last time they had done that they killed all of their bees. Well, our bees died right after that happened; we found a bunch of dead bees around our house.” Tickell wanted to know what Barnard Ranch was spraying. She was referred to a woman named, “Anita, at Mission Produce, and after I was hounding her to tell me what was sprayed, maybe it was three requests, she finally got back to me a week later . . . it was Timectin and summer spray.”

The letter from Mission Produce states that Timectin and IAP Summer Spray Oil are used as part of the “mandatory” spraying program. Summer Spray is listed as approved for “organic production” and is a “narrow range petroleum spray oil.” Chemicals used for pest control are mixed with various oils as part of the application process. Directions for application state that “aerial applications only when weather conditions do not allow ground application.”

“This is the annual time of the year where mandatory spraying needs to take place, the County is also conducting their spraying in the area,” stated Anita Lemos, vice president with Mission Produce in an email dated May 31 notifying Tickell’s neighbor about spraying scheduled for June 8. “Unfortunately, we have to spray along with the County.”

Timectin is the brand name of a product containing Abamectin, an insecticide approved for use on various crops including citrus and avocado trees. The manufacturer label states possible effects from exposure include “muscular incoordination, muscular tremors,” and that the product is “harmful if absorbed through skin . . . toxic to fish and wildlife . . . do not apply to water.” Regarding the potential for drift, the label reads, “highly toxic to bees…do not apply when weather conditions favor drift from target areas. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds if bees are visiting treatment area.”

“When I read that [text from Rebecca], I said, ‘mother of god, my questions just got answered, my dog got poisoned,’ ” Ladd recalled. She began to see evidence of chemical spraying all around her. “How much spray is going into the air of California?”

Rebecca Tickell and Patty Pagaling

“Josh and I have a long history of working on these environmental issues, especially around pollution,” said Tickell. They were in Louisiana in 2010 in the wake of the British Petroleum oil spill. “Everyone was told, ‘it is safe, everyone come down there, swim in the water, it is safe.’ Then we come to find out after that it was not true, so many people got sick as a result of that. So this is not the first time where we’ve been in a community where pollution was happening and the people were told that they were safe, and the people knew that that was not the case. And this just happens to be literally in my backyard. So it’s a little different than it was in the past, its more personal.”

Town hall meeting in Ojai – Act local, think global

For the past ten years Ventura County joined with other citrus growing areas in ramping up pesticides spraying in an attempt to prevent first the arrival of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), and second, when the bug arrived here a few years ago, to prevent it’s spread and stop the spread of Huanglongbing (HLB) a disease caused by a bacteria, which is transmitted by the ACP. HLB decimates citrus trees.

This summer the Ventura County Farm Bureau announced that a group of specially trained dogs had detected the deadly bacteria at farms across the county, including the Ojai Valley. This created a push by those agencies to work to get more growers to participate in the voluntary preventative spraying program across the county.

Activists calling for changes in conventional agricultural systems have responded with science data pointing to healthy soil as the answer.

“The answer is to maximize the diversity and strength of the life in the soil.  When you have healthy, biologically alive soil and a healthy ecosystem, pests and disease-causing organisms don’t take over and toxic pesticides are unnecessary,” said Patty Pagaling, executive director of the Ojai based nonprofit organization, Transition to Organics. She is referring to data from Dr. Elaine Ingham, “a renowned soil microbiologist,” as a way to combat the spread of HLB using regenerative agricultural methods. Pagaling has been working in the Ojai Valley on this issue since 2008. “Biodiversity is the key to a balanced, healthy ecosystem. From a healthy regenerative ag perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to spray poisons into our air for us to breathe and into our soil where food is grown.”

Panel including Rebecca Tickell, with hand raised

Johnathan Katz, a citrus grower in the Ojai Valley who supports regenerative methods, described the increased spraying in response to the ACP as a “response bungled by the regulators of conventional agriculture,” and said the increased spraying has “made the situation worse,” because the chemicals kill the microbes the soil needs to be healthy, in turn making the trees more susceptible to disease.

After a broad discussion about the economics of agriculture, the need to grow for local consumption, and how soil microbes are vital for human health, Eric Cutter, a biochemist and a regenerative farmer at Alegria Fresh in Irvine, spoke about how he grows 60 different plants on “2000 square feet and feed[s] five families.” He pointed to some thick, dark soil on the table in front of the stage that was used in a demo showing how healthy soil holds water. The humus filled soil came from land farmed in Ojai by panelist Connor Jones, “That is black gold, you can grow anything in it.”

For more information visit www.transition-to-organics.org

Information about regenerative agriculture: www.ojaicra.org

Proceeds from the sale of Diane Ladd’s book, Spiraling Through the School of Life, are being donated to fund blood testing for those impacted by spraying. www.dianeladd.com

Online only:

For information about the petition presented at the town hall, visit: www.regenerateojai.com

For information about the pesticide spraying programs in Ventura County visit: www.farmbureauvc.com/issues/pest-issues

Connor Jones, permaculturist at East End Eden farms, Ojai.
Josh Tickell and volunteers in a demonstration showing how much water healthy organic soil holds. Photo by Stephen Adams.
Eric Cutter, Alegria Fresh farms, Irvine.
Jonathan Katz, Ojai Orange Groves.
Josh Tickell
Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, Chumash Leader
Citrus orchards in the east end of the Ojai Valley. Oct. 2019
Steve Sprinkel, organic farmer, Rancho Del Pueblo farms, and co-owner The Farmer and The Cook.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

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Tim Malloy, Professor of Law, Faculty Director, UCLA Sustainable Technology and Policy Program
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Kathy Nolan, Landscape Architect and Ojai Planning Commissioner

Soil experiment. Rebecca and Josh Tickell. Photo by Stephen Adams.

Ojai Valley News October 4, 2019 Pesticides town hall packed

web 10 4 pesticides
Ojai Valley News photo by Laura Rearwin Ward
Josh Tickell shows a slide at the Sept. 28 town hall meeting on “Health and Pesticides,” held at the Matilija Auditorium.
Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
The day before spraying pesticides for the Asian citrus psyllid began in the Ojai Valley, a town hall meeting on “Health and Pesticides” was held Sept. 28, with nearly 300 people packing Matilija Auditorium.
Actress and health activist Diane Ladd, a resident of Ojai’s East End, has been spearheading an effort to raise awareness about pesticide use in the Ojai Valley and to promote regenerative farming to reduce it.  After showing preview clips for a documentary called “Kiss the Ground” by local filmmakers Rebecca and Josh Tickell, the couple showed a short film they recently made with local stakeholders.
In the short film, the Tickells say they learned that insecticides and herbicides don’t just stay where they’re sprayed; they drip in the air.”  In the valley, neonictinoid pesticides are being used, which have been banned in a lot of places because of their negative impact on pollinator species, according to the information in the film. Rebecca Tickell said: “We here in the Ojai Valley can be a model for how we go from a degenerative way of living to a regenerative way of living. We can be that model. We pride ourselves on being this enlightened place where people can come and heal. Let’s make it like that. Let’s really make it like that.”
In the film, Ladd says: “It’s your health; it’s your body. But it’s not just your body. It’s your kids’ body. It’s the next generation. What are we turning over to them? What are we leaving them? We have to clean it up now.”
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson talked about working in collaboration with farmers and ranchers, while protecting the lives of their neighbors. “I would submit that I don’t think there are too many farmers or ranchers who would want to be out there saying: ‘I don’t care about these people. I don’t care about any of my neighbors.’ ”
Josh Tickell gave a demonstration with four different soils from four East End farms.
The first two soils came from conventional agriculture citrus orchards. The third one was from a model orchard. It was not organic, but it mulches and has attentive farmers who really take care of their plants and trees, Josh Tickell said. The last soil came from a regenerative farm that promotes an ecosystem to build up the soil.  When mixed with water, the first three soils became rocks and a dirt-like sand. The regenerative soil was black and rich.
Because of the unique geography of the Ojai Valley, there are mountain ranges on each side that cause an inversion layer much of the year, Josh Tickell said. “When you have a fan with a bunch of nozzles, it is going to fan the spray up in the air, down on the ground, and, yeah, some of it will hit the plants, too,” Josh Tickell said. “But that’s kind of a bonus.”
He said that the first step is a voluntary buffer zone: “If you’re a grower, we’d like you to go ahead and volunteer not to spray the road, and not to spray the kids, and not to spray us. Just volunteer. We want a mandatory 72-hour public notice system. If I can get a tweet from the president at 3 a.m., I should be able to get a tweet about people spraying toxic chemicals on a farm next to my house where my children live.”
Agricultural business as usual is not even an option for the farmers, Josh Tickell said. “I talked to a lot of growers in Ojai off the record … I said, ‘How long do you think you’re going to be able to do citrus the way you’re doing it right now? How long do you think you’re going to be in business?’ Ten years, max (was their response).”
On the panel, Steve Sprinkel, one of the farmers behind Farmer and the Cook in Meiners Oaks, said: “Using regenerative agriculture … to perhaps be a steppingstone for the certified organic market will be a really important feature for this valley, we certainly hope. I think this is such a fantastic moment.”  Sprinkel said the valley can stand united behind a movement toward regenerative agriculture.
Panelist Timothy Malloy said that to do this, it is important to have a vision of clear values and collaboration, Panelist Annemiek Schilder had a less-optimistic view about moving away from citrus. She said growers will grow what they want to grow based on the economy, and that the orchards were a natural fire break to prevent Ojai from becoming the city of Paradise during the Thomas Fire.
Local regenerative farmer Connor Jones agreed that we cannot tell people not to grow citrus. “We can say, ‘Don’t use something that harms me.’ I think that’s fair enough,” he said.
The community can assist in helping growers transition to regenerative farming by helping them get started and funding some of their trial orchards or trial crops, Jones said. “These farmers have somewhat slim margins for profit, and I think if they want to move into something else, there’s oftentimes great financial risk. Having a secured market and community buy-in is really important.”
Rebecca Tickell said the impact of the town hall is already being seen by her and husband Josh, judging from the numerous phone calls they have received from parents wanting to get their kids tested. The main thing that’s coming out of the town hall is that we now have a donor who is going to help us get kids tested who go to school in the orchards on the East End,” Rebecca said. “We’re going to let the facts speak for themselves, and we should have that soon.”
For more information about regenerative farming in the Ojai Valley, visit www.regenerateojai.com.

Saturday, Sept 28th, 2019

You are invited to a special event…

 Town Hall Meeting

Health & Pesticides, Climate Change
& Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture

at Matilija Auditorium

703 El Paseo Rd, Ojai, CA 93023
Doors open at 2:15pm
Speakers & Special Guests to include:
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
Sen Jackson photo
Award Winning Actress Diane Ladd
Diane Ladd on couch
Filmmakers Josh & Rebecca Tickell, Kiss the Ground
Tickells photo

Sneak Preview of clips from the new film “KISS THE GROUND”,

narrated by Woody Harrelson
Film clips, panel and discussion about chemical spraying in Ojai

and transitioning Ojai to Regenerative Agriculture.

For info, e-mail: transitiontoorganics@gmail.com
Townhall 8.5x11 for print(1)
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