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Regenerating Earth is important theme at Winter Dreams

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold.

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”

— Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Sonnet 73, 1609

Red and yellow maple leaves are carpeting my front yard, so I know it’s time for the annual Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens Symposium, hosted by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association.

This year’s event happens from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, 101 S. Bartlett St., in Medford.

JCMGA has put together a lineup of topics and speakers certain to offer something for all of us who garden in the Rogue Valley. Each class is 90 minutes long, allowing for in-depth discussion and participation. For more information about all of the classes and presenters, visit the JCMGA website at https://jacksoncountymga.org. Be sure to register online by midnight Monday to get the early registration price of $45, which includes a tasty lunch.

In the meantime, here are a few classes that particularly caught my attention because they are associated with regenerative agriculture, which advocates practices aimed at reversing climate change by replenishing the Earth’s soil. Although regenerative agriculture is a response to alarming rates of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming that have been recorded in the past few decades, the same methods have been practiced by many cultures for centuries:

No/low tilling; using natural soil fertilizers — compost, manure, cover crops and crop rotation — to restore soil microbial communities; promoting biodiversity by planting multispecies crops, cover crops and pollinator habitats; and using healthy animal grazing practices.

The concepts of regenerative agriculture create a provocative thread that weaves through many of the classes offered this year. I was also delighted to see lots of smart, dynamic women in the program who are educational leaders for projects that support sustainable gardening practices and habitat restoration.

Carly Corrado will discuss “Soil Related to Climate Change.” She will share her passion and knowledge about building garden soil that teems with life and, by doing so plot by plot, how gardeners and farmers contribute to planetary regeneration. Corrado is founder of Enliven Leadership, a consulting company for green businesses that specializes in regenerative agriculture and renewable energy.

Lion Waxman will lead a discussion of why “Fall is the Time to Make Compost Magic.” He’ll talk about the reasons for building compost, how it benefits the soil and ecosystem, and how gardeners can make compost with fall debris. Waxman is from New York, where he began his work as a regenerative horticulturist, permaculture designer and Master Gardener. He owns Good Earth Gardens in Grants Pass.

Rhianna Simes will tell us about the connection between “Roots and Regenerative Agriculture” in an informative session about the Earth’s rhizosphere. Simes is executive director of Our Family Farms, a nonprofit organization that grew out of the successful campaign to ban GMO crops from Jackson County. She was an instructor for 10 years for the OSU Extension Service, where she developed the Land Steward Program and coordinated the Master Gardener program.

These presenters and others have fascinating, important information to share that will help us become better gardeners and better stewards of the Earth. JCMGA has worked hard to gather great minds at this year’s Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens Symposium; now, all we have to do is make the most of this golden opportunity.

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at Rnowak39@gmail.com. For more about gardening, visit her blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/.