Mow&Sow - working towards a sustainable future

Mow&Sow is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Mow&Sow History 1996 to Present


1996: MOW & SOW presented a workshop on ROADSIDE VEGETATION DESIGN & MANAGEMENT at the 16th Annual Ecological Farming Conference Program, Asilomar, January 1996.


MOW & SOW created and organized the first bioregional BUNCHGRASS WORKSHOP which was held at the Marconi Conference Center on October 17, 1995. Dan Strait, President of Native Grass Association, Jules Evens, Naturalist, Pamela C. Muick, Ph.D. Restoration Ecologist all presented to an audience of approximately thirty participants who represented County, State and Federal agencies. The result is a volunteer library resource data bank, private restoration volunteers, public restoration and a 1996 Bunchgrass workshop.


On-going community education with emphasis seeking viable alternatives to the use of herbicides on the Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, CA.


MOW & SOW participated in media campaign with Beyond Pesticides and the National Coalition Against Misuse of Pesticides, entitled “Voices for Pesticide Reform: the case for safe practices and sound policy” .


MOW & SOW endorsed and worked with Sierra Club’s efforts to add a no-spray policy to the Bolinas Lagoon Management Plan Update.


MOW & SOW received 501(c)(3) Non-profit status, no longer using Environmental Action Committee as its fiscal agent.


MOW & SOW wrote letter requesting Caltrans to stop spraying on Highways l01 and 37 so that we may have toxics-free roadways in Marin County.


MOW & SOW launched national campaign to boycott Marconi Conference Center for their spraying practices. Companies that had previously used the facilities (Greenpeace, Odwalla, Communities For A Better Environment) sent letters of boycott.


MOW & SOW Board Member Laura MacEachen, in collaboration with Marin County Farmers’ Market Association, applied for grant from USDA Community Food Projects Program.


MOW & SOW Board Member, Laura MacEachen requested funding from Marin Community Foundation for West Marin Economic Survey.


Another victory for MOW & SOW!! Marconi Conference Center Board of Directors passed a resolution not to spray beginning Jan. 1 1997.


1997: Contracts were negotiated with Bunchgrass Conference members to receive and propagate MOW & SOW’s native grass starts. Mature plants were transferred to the Permaculture Institute of Northern California, who distributed them to landowners.


Executive Director Donna Sheehan moved temporarily to Modoc County. Laura MacEachen, as Marin County Director, continued work on a Community Organic Garden and a West Marin Economic Base study. Discussions were held on a Micro-Farm agricultural Co-op.


MOW & SOW became a part of the Marin Beyond Pesticides Coalition.


1998: MOW & SOW members spoke at a hearing on Integrated Pest Management legislation before the Marin County Board of Supervisors.


MOW & SOW President Donna Sheehan made a speech congratulating Marin County Board of Supervisors for voting in favor of adoption of IPM legislation for Marin County public spaces.


MOW & SOW worked with CalTrans and Modoc County Board of Supervisors on roadside issues in Modoc County, including restoration and mitigation of rockslide areas, roadside safety equipment and signage.


MOW & SOW advised Modoc Citizens Against Private Prisons on environmental issues concerning wetlands bordering proposed prison site in Alturas. MOW & SOW joins in protests against the proposed private prison in Modoc County, which succeed in stopping its construction.


MOW & SOW challenged the conditions of an Environmental Impact Statement proposal by Modoc National Forest on their project for noxious weed control on public lands.


1999: MOW & SOW helps to design an intentional community based on sustainable-living principles in Mendocino County. MOW & SOW members held several discussions with the owner of the Old Mill Farm, who is anxious to create a community dedicated to preserving the Farm for posterity, organic farming and restoration of the forest through sustainable logging practices.


MOW & SOW interviewed several candidates for membership in the Old Mill Farm project as mentors and apprentices. An organic market garden was planted and it and the orchards were harvested by members recruited by MOW & SOW. The Old Mill Farm is deeply committed to pesticide-free crops, sustainable uses of land and resources, renewable energy and maintaining a self-supporting community on the farm.


MOW & SOW prepared several documents advising on sustainable practices and management of the land and community. They contacted experts in the relevant fields of restoration forestry, Permaculture, animal husbandry, intentional communities and decision-making processes in order to further advise the Old Mill Farm members.


MOW & SOW provided its services free of charge to the landowner.


MOW & SOW continues to work in co-operation with the Marin Beyond Pesticides Coalition and other organizations in promoting pesticide-free public areas and the widespread adoption of IPM practices as a step towards that goal.


Representatives of MOW & SOW attend as many meetings as possible concerning these issues in Marin County.


MOW & SOW directors continue to act as advisors to other grassroots organizations inspired by our success in persuading CalTrans to reduce pesticide use statewide.


2000: MOW&SOW, now headquartered in Lakeville, CA, monitored spraying in the Petaluma River watershed by landowners. Consulted with Sonoma County Ag Department on regulations concerning drift of aerial crop spray and the effects on the protected wetlands around Lakeville.


MOW&SOW consulted with CalTrans on traffic density on Lakeville Highway, a shortcut for trucks and commuter traffic between Highway 101 and Highway 37. MOW&SOW holds the position that Lakeville Highway is unsuitable for such traffic loads, especially in light of the high number of fatal accidents. MOW&SOW requested a downgrade of Lakeville Highway from highway status, and the diversion of long-hauk trucks to the freeway system.


2001: MOW&SOW’s office is moved to Surprise Valley, Modoc County, CA, as Blair Parrott is elected Executive Director. MOW&OW begins its activism concerning BLM cattle range management practices and logging practices by the National Forest Service.


2002: MOW&SOW in Modoc joins with the Northwest Great Basin Association in challenging several projects that threaten environmental and social well-being, including helping to stop construction of a coal-fired power plant in Modoc County and reviewing and protesting the expansion of a low-altitude military airspace over the county.



In Marin County, Donna Sheehan creates Baring Witness as a project of MOW & SOW. On November 12, 46 women formed the word PEACE with their naked bodies, starting a movement that inspired anti-war activists on all seven continents to create similar actions.


Baring Witness forms two more naked peace actions on Drake’s Beach, Marin County, one with men and one with 98 women. Baring Witness begins to receive interview requests from around the world, and photos from other organizers.


2003: On January 4, another Baring Witness No War action takes place in West Marin. Naked protest begins to be more common as a viable political activism tool. On January 18, Baring Witness stages a “Body Bags” protest during the anti-war march in San Francisco.

Saddam cartoon


MOW & SOW monitors a proposed geothermal power plant that was poorly conceived. MOW & SOW researches and questions the methodology of predator eradication attempts in NW Nevada, and investigates an urban water importation plan that will severely impact Modoc County water supplies.


2004: Baring Witness creates a 2004 calendar featuring images from around the world.


MOW & SOW creates partnerships with the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and others to monitor livestock grazing in National Forest lands, to help bring livestock grazing into compliance with laws and regulations by establishing a trend for range and riparian conditions, and by forcing the US Forest Service to abide by its own rules.


MOW & SOW joins concerned citizens in investigating and protesting the intention of the Marin & Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District to spray for West Nile mosquitoes by truck in West Marin. Acting as if they have complete autonomy and without public input, the MSMVCD makes it clear that they intend to spray, no matter what are the concerns of the public.


2005: MOW & SOW is part of a committee investigating the possibility of forming a West Marin Sustainability District. Representatives from Tomales Village County Service District, East Shore Planning Group, Olema Village Assoc, Marin Organic, West Marin Alliance, LAFCO and NMWD discuss the need for West Marin’s unincorporated villages to form a Joint Power District, a local agency that could make decisions (on such matters as the spraying of toxics by government agencies) regarding its unique environment and well-being, addressing the concerns of West Marin residents and businesses.


MOW & SOW continues to take part and advise in the campaign against the draconian measures threatened by the MSMVCD in Marin County. A moratorium is announced due to the pressure applied by their opponents, but MSMVCD continues its publicly-funded efforts to endanger the public during the rest of the year, necessitating continued vigilance and action by local activists.


MOW & SOW joins other activists in opposing the placement of a cell tower in Point Reyes Station. This campaign becomes an ongoing struggle.


2006: In the course of mapping rural Marin’s resources of clean water and crops, MOW & SOW requested public records of pesticide spray permits issued by County Ag. On studying the records with fellow from 2002 to 2005, it was seen that aerial spraying of 2,4-D compounds and Transline had been occurring each year and had increased fourfold during those years. MOW & SOW requests spray permit records from Marin County’s Agriculture Commissioner for 2006, and discovers that, apart from ground spraying of 2,4-d and other dangerous herbicides, several ranchers in West Marin are permitted for aerial spraying of 2,4-d and Transline from helicopters. The spraying is to combat thistles, a method that apparently does not succeed, since the ranchers have been spraying for many years. The ranchers cite the problem of widespread thistles as ‘impossible’ to eradicate by hand, a position proven untrue by the example of a rancher in Sonoma County, who for years has pulled thistles as soon as they appear, rather than waiting for them to take over acres of pasture, as some “stewards of the land” do.


MOW & SOW continues to oppose pesticide use at an agency level, rather than to expose individuals to public vilification, in the interests of community. The issue of aerial spraying in the vicinity of organic farms, and with apparent disregard for public safety continues throughout the year. A woman cyclist is sprayed by a helicopter and suffers health problems while cycling near Tomales. She at first agrees to go public, but then is strangely silent. Years later, MOW & SOW learns that she was given a grant-funded position with the UC Davis Ag Extension in Marin...........


MOW & SOW is the only local nonprofit to openly oppose pesticide use. Local, funded environmental and organic advocacy groups were contacted, but were not interested in rocking the boat. The Point Reyes Light ran a couple of tongue-in-cheek stories. Once again, there was a good-cop, bad-cop situation, with the established, comfortable organizations being the good cops. MOW & SOW is referred to by the head of one of them as “The Bad Guys” because we weren’t satisfied sitting back and waiting for the pesticide companies to see the organic light of their own accord.

Baring Witness continues its action against war, as part of the cause of sustainability for the human race and the planet.


2007: MOW & SOW once again receives records showing increased use of aerial spraying of herbicides in West Marin, making the records public, but not mentioning names of ranchers. The records show that the Vedanta Retreat Center in Olema has been ground-spraying 2,4-d on its property, without notifying the public or participants in the retreats. Since this is an ‘agency’ of sorts, MOW & SOW writes a letter to their board asking them to desist. After several contacts, it becomes apparent that Vedanta will continue to spray, so MOW & SOW organizes a mediation meeting, chaired by Carlos Porrata.


Invitees: Vedanta Retreat: Board Chairman Dr. Estol Carte and Linda Winé, Vegetation Mgr. who invited Stacy Carlsen, Marin Co. Agriculture Commissioner


Sustainable Action Committee: Dr. Marion Moses, Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Paola Bouley, Biologist, SPAWN; Fred Smith, Exec. Dir. Environmental Action Committee, Virginia Veach, Sarah Reilly, Barbara Deutsch, Melinda Leithhold, Cynthia Kent, Donna Sheehan/Paul Reffell, Directors of MOW&SOW.


After the meeting and more discussions, Vedanta agrees to halt the spraying and use alternative methods.


MOW & SOW pressures CalTrans to keep up with its maintenance of roadsides on Highway One. Their budget restrictions have forced them to close their maintenance yard in West Marin.


The State announces its plans to ‘eradicate’ the Light Brown Apple Moth by aerial spraying pesticides over populated areas. MOW & SOW joins other activists in a long and continuing campaign against the LBAM spraying.


Baring Witness continues its anti-war, pro-sustainability work.


2008: The campaign against the LBAM ‘eradication’ program continues, with MOW & SOW doing research in conjunction with other activists. It is pointed out that UC Davis, which conducts safety studies on pesticides and eradication programs, is funded in large part by the companies whose products Davis tests.............


MOW & SOW investigates the feasibility of a biodiesel fuel co-op.


MOW & SOW requests that CalTrans post speed signs in Marshall, which is becoming a destination and dangerous due to speeders. CalTrans begins design work on installation of radar speed signs.


2009: MOW & SOW, along with Pesticide Free Zone, protests the breaking of the Integrated Pest Management law by the Marin Ag Commissioner’s Office, which broke the law at least 90 times, spraying pesticides on public spaces such as parks without notifying the public. Marin Ag Commissioner, Stacy Carlsen, gets a pay raise!


MOW & SOW contacts Audubon Society, Cornell Ornithology Lab, Point Reyes Bird Observatory and birdseed manufacturers and retailers in reference to organic birdseed. The public feeds wild birds with birdseed, encouraged by Audubon (which ‘lends’ its name to seed mixes) and Cornell, not knowing the possible harmful effects of pesticide-laden seed. Organic seed is hard to find, even in “organic” West Marin. MOW & SOW raises the issue in local media.


2010: MOW & SOW asks local feed barn to stock organic hay, since the haybales are used as seating for public events, such as speeches by environmental activists. No change is made.


MOW & SOW joins with other activists in opposing the forced installation by PG&E of SmartMeters, which may be hazardous to health and a fire-risk. PG&E bills regularly rise after their installation.


MOW & SOW pressures CalTrans to show due diligence in the repaving of Highway One in West Marin. Previous repaving raised the shoulders to dangerous levels, and another layer would increase them again. The shoulders are mitigated soon after.


MOW & SOW is asked to become fiscal sponsor for West Marin Community Television, community-access TV.


MOW & SOW is asked to become fiscal sponsor for West Marin Alternatives in Education, a group of parents investigating alternatives to driving their children “over the hill” every day to school.