Restoring Soils and Seas on October 12 at Ojai Retreat Center

John Roulac, the founder of the organic superfood company Nutiva, lived in Ojai in the 1990’s, helped lead a composting movement here, and still loves the community. Even though he moved with his company to the Bay Area years ago, he continues to fund environmental activism in the Ojai area.

On Thursday, October 12th, at the Ojai Retreat and in association with the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, Roulac will lead a presentation on “Oceans in Peril,” about the crisis we face from our polluted and carbonized ocean water, and what we can do to help restore ocean health.

Roulac is alarmed by the accelerating decline in our ocean’s health and productivity, especially from pollution and acidification, but as “chief visionary officer” of the company he has some ideas on what can be done to reverse the damage as well.

“As part of our participation in 1% for the Planet, we are sponsoring ocean farming workshops along the California coast, in places like Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and San Francisco,” Roulac said. “In the same way oak woodlands are a keystone species in the coast ranges of California- a species on which thousands of other species depend - kelp forests are a keystone species off the shores of California. They have been devastated, beginning with the hunting of the otters for fur. The otters eat sea urchins, which eats kelp. Kelp forests are still recovering from that loss [of sea otters]. What we are talking about ultimately is a reforestation of the coast, but what we’re looking at right now is what we can do with ocean farming.”

Dan Marquez, a restorative ocean farmer with 25 acres off the Santa Barbara coast, will speak on the challenges of farming with kelp. Roulac says that one of the ideas being tested is the idea of feeding cows meal made of kelp instead of corn. He said that cows that consume kelp instead of cornmeal generate less methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

“In the last year this has gone from being considered some bizarre idea, to a “wow”! People are beginning to think about about whether they could be ocean farmers, working right off our coasts,” Roulac said.

Roulac and Nutiva also helped fund Ojai filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell, who are completing a documentary project called Kiss the Ground, a 90-minute documentary expected to be entered into the Sundance Film Festival next year. A preview from the documentary will be shown as part of the presentation, and Ojai’s Steve Sprinkel, an organic grower for the community based at The Farmer and the Cook, along with Roulac and Marquez, will also be a featured guest speaker.

OCEANS IN PERIL at the Ojai Retreat at 7 pm on Thursday October 12th. 160 Besant Road, Ojai CA (near the Ranch House and Oak Grove School, off Lomita Avenue).