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Workshop focuses on sustainable cannabis cultivation

Submitted to The Union

WHAT: Growing Green for the Yuba

WHEN: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. March 21

WHERE: Shady Creek Event Center, 18601 Pathfinder Way, Nevada City (on the Ridge)

TICKETS: $20 (includes lunch) in advance/$30 at door; tickets at SYRCL Office and website (313 Railroad Avenue, Nevada City), BriarPatch Market, Mother Truckers and at the door.

MORE INFO: 530-265-5961 and http://www.yubariver.org/marijuana

California’s current “Green Rush” has attracted many farmers to grow medical marijuana, or cannabis, in Nevada County where land is relatively cheap, water seems plentiful and the sun shines 250 days out of the year. By some accounts, the county may be producing $50 million to $600 million worth of cannabis annually, according to event organizers.

“While most of the attention surrounding cannabis cultivation has focused on economic, medical or social issues, we call upon our community to make sure that the negative environmental impacts to the Yuba River are not overlooked,” said Caleb Dardick, executive director of the South Yuba River Citizens League.

“Every new economic ‘rush’ from hydraulic mining to clear-cutting has had profound impacts on the Yuba River over the past 160 years. Maybe this time we can find collaborative, local solutions to protect this watershed we all love so much,” said Hank Meals, local historian, author and member of SYRCL’s Community Advisory Board.

On March 21, the public is invited to attend “Growing Green for the Yuba,” SYRCL’s daylong informational workshop, to learn from local and regional experts about practices for cultivation that will safeguard the Yuba watershed.

The presenters will address a variety of topics, including water management systems, soil health and nutrient use, pest management and alternative energy.

There will also be two panel discussions focused on “Local Growers Issues” and “Local Grow Shop Issues,” including local and statewide regulations and products that are available locally.

“With this event, we hope to draw attention to the cumulative impact of small growers across our watershed, which is already starting to have a visible impact on the Yuba and its tributaries from dry creek beds to toxic algae blooms,” said Rachel Hutchinson, SYRCL’s science director.

“People will come away from this workshop with the tools they need to grow cannabis in a way that does not harm the water quality, fish and wildlife we cherish here in the Yuba watershed,” said Amigo Bob Cantisano, a renowned leader in the organic gardening movement and a confirmed speaker at the workshop. “If all growers agreed to farm using environmentally sustainable methods, we can foster a truly ‘green’ Green Rush in the foothills.”

“As responsible business owners in the Yuba, we want to encourage cannabis cultivators to be sustainable. There should be no controversy between thriving farms and a healthy river,” said Darlene Markey, owner of Sweetland Garden Supply and a sponsor of SYRCL’s workshop.

SYRCL is not taking a position — pro or con — on cultivation, organizers said.

“We’re simply saying that if you are going to grow, adopt best practices and do it in a way that doesn’t harm our waterways,” said Holly Mitten, SYRCL vice president and chair of the Marijuana is a Watershed Issue Committee.

The “Growing Green for the Yuba” workshop is sponsored by Forever Flowering, Vital Garden Supply, Sweetland Garden Supply and Americans for Safe Access-Nevada County.

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