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Little Green Home Show focuses on living 'green'

By John Darling

For the Tidings

Two-dozen vendors and a lineup of workshops are on tap this weekend to help give Rogue Valley residents a look at some of the products and ideas available for living, building, eating and growing "green."

Billed as the Little Green Home Show, the free event, now in its second year, runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Phoenix Organics, 4345 S. Pacific Highway.

It's an event where you can get all your how-to questions answered by experts in several fields — alternative energy, sustainable construction, natural building, soil fertility, permaculture, sustainable farming and cooking local produce. There are even events for little green sprouts, with a kids' workshop on cob construction with mud, straw and sand.

The all-day event will include live music. Organic food will be sold on site by Ashland Food Co-op.

"A lot of the emphasis is on growing food. More people want to grow food because the economy is affecting people," said Chris Bourne, a partner in Phoenix Organics.

The show also will allow people to learn the latest ideas about energy efficiency, said Chris Keefe of Organic Forms Design in Ashland. Keefe will talk about straw bale construction.

Rocky Clevenger of Clevenger Construction in Central Point says he will demonstrate interior floors with cementaceous overlays, recycled materials and stains with soy-based Ecoprocote.

Bourne said that with the popularity of sustainable building, many retailers are "playing the green card" and engaging in "greenwashing," which means promoting goods that have sustainable aspects but still carry environmental problems. All vendors at the Green Fair are known for long-term, genuinely sustainable goods and practices, he said.

"The level of consciousness is rising because we're changing globally. We're going to have water issues, food issues, and at the show we're looking at ways to set up water harvest for use in fields and farming," said Bourne, a former teacher of permaculture at the University of California at Berkeley.

While the sustainability movement used to center in Ashland and the Applegate-Williams area, Bourne says it has spread to the whole Rogue Valley.

"People are looking for alternatives, becoming more aware and want a better lifestyle," he said, noting that some businesses are even setting aside a space for employees to grow vegetables day-to-day.

Steve Spratt of RainTube in Jacksonville will be showing his devices, made of recycled materials, which keep gutters clean and funnel rain to catchment systems and the company's new cistern, made of groups of tubes formed from recycled plastics.

"All the recycled materials we use would end up in landfills. We grind them up, clean them and extrude them and put them in gutters. The traditional gutters don't work," says Spratt, adding that the water can be used for irrigation, showers or, when filtered, for drinking.

People are usually blown away to learn how much water comes off their roof, Spratt notes — "An average amount would be 25,000 gallons a year."

Also at the fair, patrons will find tips on making an edible landscape, solar energy, bio-diesel, energy-efficient homes, decreasing carbon footprints and power bills, organic gardening, nontoxic homes, local food security, small-farm agriculture, home add-ons, energy efficient windows and insulation, and nontoxic interior/exterior paints and finishes.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.