Category: Ashland news

The GMO battle comes to Ashland

By John Yunker,

Rogue Valley

Ashland, Oregon, is located at a the southern end of the Rogue Valley, which is a long but narrow stretch of land. As such, small family farms dominate the region, which has resulted in vibrant farmers’ markets and plenty of truly local food (and wine).

Because this valley is so small, genetically modified crops endanger the existing organic crops because wind carries GMO pollen or seed onto neighboring organic farms.

But given that there is such limited supply of land in this region, you’d think the large agri-companies wouldn’t even bother to compete with the organic farms.

You would think.

But that hasn’t stopped the likes of Monsanto, BASF, Dupont, Syngenta, and other multinationals from spending more than $450,000 to defeat a proposal (Measure 15-119) that bans GMO crops in this small slice of the world. Monsanto alone contributed $183,294 to the cause.


Needless to say, I’ll be voting in favor of Measure 15-119 next month.

I have no idea if GMO crops are bad for your health. But I’m quite certain that spraying Roundup on crops is horrible for our entire ecosystem. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that bee populations are collapsing as GMO crops spread. I also don’t believe that farmers should be required to “license” seeds for one-time use.

Right now, these corporations are running ads to scare people into thinking we’ll be less safe if this measure passes — as if our police departments will somehow be overwhelmed by GMO enforcement to go after burglars. The hysterical tone of the pro-GMO ads leads me to suspect that there is real fear that this measure will pass.

I hope it does. And if you’re in Jackson County, I hope you vote YES next month.

Celebrating rescued Equamore horses

By Midge Raymond,

Equamore Foundation horse sanctuary’s annual Open Barn event in Ashland is a chance to celebrate all the great work Equamore does for horses all year long. Upon walking into the barn, visitors learned about Equamore horses through an array of photos and stories, and could then wander through the barn to meet the horses face to face.

I was able to meet several new Equamore horses, all of them so happy to be in a place where they are safe, cared for, and very well loved.

Walking through the barn I saw many beautiful horses I’d met before — among them Magic, Sara, Thor — and I also met Pal, a new rescue who is still a little shy but clearly very happy to be at Equamore. His owner had abandoned him to fend for himself, and thanks to Pal’s cleverness he was able to find a water source and survive long enough to be rescued by Equamore. He now has food, peace, and affection — and though the photo below is a little dark, it’s easy to see what a sweet guy he is.


Another new arrival is the beautiful Johnny B. Goode, who was rescued after the Jackson County Sheriff’s office received a report of a starving horse. Fortunately, though he was in very poor condition, Johnny is a great eater, and as you can see in the photo, he is bright-eyed and lovely.


Gandalf was a young stallion and one of several victims of an owner who wanted a herd of Percheron stallions and mares roaming freely. As a result of his owner’s unfortunate ignorance of horse care, Gandalf had to spend his life defending himself from the herd’s dominant stallion, and his body bore the horrible scars of his many battles.

Thanks to the hard work of Equamore staff, Gandalf was rescued along with Flint, another stallion, and Diamond, a mare. Gandalf was gelded soon after arriving at Equamore (along with Flint; you can read his and Diamond’s story here), and his wounds have been treated and are healing beautifully. As you’ll see in the photo below, he is a gorgeous, affectionate horse who will walk right up to you and stretch his head forward to receive a little love.


If you love horses and want to help, there are many ways to support Equamore and other horses.

You can donate directly to Equamore here. And to support a specific horse you’ve fallen in love with, click here, then find the horse’s profile to make a donation.

You can support other Oregon horses by contributing to the Oregon Hay Bank.

You can check out Inspired Pet Portraits by Dana Feagin, an Ashland artist who does wonderful portraits of animals from local shelters and sanctuaries, including Equamore. Several Equamore horses are featured in Dana’s collection, including beautiful portraits of Wishes, Kizzy, and Bojingles.

Meet the Sequoia: Ashland Tree of the Year 2005

By John Yunker,

I know what you’re thinking. What happened to those Tree of the Year posts?

To make up for lost time, I present you with one of the mightiest of trees — the sequoia:

If it weren’t for those power lines, this might actually be a nice photo.

There are actually quite a few sequoias in town. And they’re only just getting started.

If you’re curious about more of Ashland’s great trees, check out past awardees of Ashland’s Tree of the Year honor.

And you still have time to get in your nomination for the 2013 Tree of the Year.

On getting lost

By John Yunker,

So it’s now well established the Google Maps is better than Apple Maps.

But even Google Maps is far from perfect.

Awhile back, I was jogging up a steep hill in Ashland and was apparently moving so slowly that a young woman, also on foot and looking somewhat lost, was able to hail me over and strike up a conversation.

She asked, “Is this the way to the Goodwill store?”

It wasn’t. We were on the outskirts of the forest — other than a few homes hidden within the trees, there was nothing else around.

So I directed her about a mile in the opposite direction. And I didn’t think about it until I looked at Google Maps. And I noticed the Goodwill store she was looking for…

However, if you happen to travel to this location, you’ll end up right about here…

Clearly, there is no Goodwill around here, though it’s certainly a great place to take a walk.

Normally, I would guess that most people give up on Google Maps right about the time their cars leave pavement — but on the other hand, we’re well trained to believe what Google Maps tell us. I’ve had my own Google Maps issues. Last year, Midge and I were headed to the Eugene Public Library for an event. But thanks to my over-reliance on Google Maps, we ended up at City Hall instead.

Lesson #1 —  Double-check your directions before leaving home.

Lesson #2 — Learn to enjoy getting lost; sometimes it’s a lot of fun.



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