Real Estate Show Interview with Karen Taylor with Siskiyou Permaculture

Real Estate Show Interview with Karen Taylor with SiskiyouPermaculture

Full Video Transcript Below

[00:00:00] Alice Lema: Okay. Well, good morning, Southern Oregon. And welcome back to the real estate show. I'm Alice Lema. I'm a broker here in beautiful Southern Oregon with John L. Scott real estate. And I'm your host here at the real estate show. And we have a fabulous, fabulous interview today with permaculturist. Karen Taylor.

[00:00:18] Now permaculture may or may not be a word we all use every day, but it's quite fascinating. It's a science, it's a holistic approach. And Karen is a specialist in permaculture and she teaches and lectures on the subject quite frequently and is involved in helping to educate the real estate agents here locally. So stay tuned for a really informative and quite interesting interview with Karen Taylor. She's here locally in Ashland. A quick note, before we get to that wonderful interview, let's talk about what's going on in the market because lots and lots of happened this week. The stock market is all over the place. Our local housing market is a little bit jittery.

[00:00:56] The sellers are a little nervous. The buyers are a little nervous. Everybody's trying to figure out what to do. Well we got our year to date report from our local. MLS S O MLS and here we have the data and data does not lie. So here you go. Jackson county year to date February last year to February this year.

[00:01:17] Guess what? The prices are only slightly high. Medium price is only slightly higher than this time last year. Now that doesn't mean people aren't listing higher. It's what actually sold. So it's almost the same, but guess what's different. We have a lot more listings on the market now than we did this time last year.

[00:01:37] And the difference between what people are getting for their property versus what they're listing for is way down. We call that the list price to sold price ratio in Jackson county. The list price to sold price ratio is way down from this time last year. And you know what else, the days on market are up.

[00:01:56] However, the days on market in Jackson county are still pretty skinny. So you know, Kind of a medium market, a little bit on the seller side, depending on what price range you're in, but overall, the market is different than it was last year. Let's take a quick look at Josephine county. Our sister to the north Josephine county selling prices are above what they were this time last year, but again, not by much.

[00:02:20] And they also have a lot more listings than they did last year. And their prices for what they're actually getting versus what they were asking. So again, the Josephine county list price to sold price ratio is way down from this time last year to now. So the days on market they're up too now, that doesn't mean that the world is falling apart, but it does mean that the market is changing.

[00:02:45] And that's why we have the show every week so that you can be good consumers because you have the information on the spot. So with that said, let's have a quick word from our sponsors and let's get on their interview with Karen Taylor. Permaculturist.

[00:03:00] Well, good morning again, everybody. And welcome back to the real estate show. I'm Alice Lema broker John L. Scott here in beautiful Southern Oregon. And I am so excited to introduce my friend. I'm such a big fan of Karen Taylor. She is a permaculture educator and designer. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Karen.

[00:03:21] Karen Taylor: Hey, Alice. It's really great to see you.

[00:03:24] Alice Lema: Well, so for our folks out there in radio land, who may not know what permaculture is, how about we start with that a little bit about what that is and who you are.

[00:03:36] Karen Taylor: Great. Yeah. Well, so permaculture is a, it's a design it's, it's a design philosophy. So it's really based on principles and ethics that are really come from indigenous cultures that are resilient. So they're able to respond to changes and with, with climate change and who knows what else is coming?

[00:04:10] Being resilient is super important these days. And so permaculture is basic ethics, our care for the earth care for people. And. Re re-investing the surplus back into our natural systems. And yeah, so that's, that's kind of the basis. It's it's whole systems design. So it's looking at the big picture.

[00:04:37] It's looking at how all of our different systems like waste and water and electricity. How do all of these systems work together? And it also includes farming and gardening. And then I have been involved with permaculture for twenty-five years now. I learned about it. My background is interior design.

[00:05:01] And in the design field, there's a lot of waste and a lot of you know, wasted materials. And so I started studying ecological design and then that led me to permaculture and it's so permaculture design ties it all together. It kind of brings the built environment with the natural environment. And how do we how do we live in a way that's much more cohesive and holistic.

[00:05:27] Alice Lema: Wow. So that is a great explanation of permaculture. And I did not understand the entirety of it. And then I also did not know you had a design background and I've known you for years. It's always so funny what you find out. So when you're talking about including all of the elements, that just sounds like a lot of moving parts. How do you address the needs of the forest and what's going on with the water and the weather with what the humans need and want. Like how do you pull all that together?

[00:06:02] Karen Taylor: That's a great question as a really great question. And so we have a series of principles and depending on who you're talking to, there's like 10 basic ones.

[00:06:14] And then they expand from there. But the first principle is observation and how important it is for us to observe the land that we're tending and understand who we are sharing that land with. What are the other species, but it also is where does the water flow on the land? Where's the wind coming from?

[00:06:41] Here, especially on the west coast, it's like where's potential fire danger. Where does that come from? And how would that affect the land that you're on? And so there's really an encouragement to spend at least four seasons observing the land before you make any major changes.

[00:07:00] Alice Lema: Well, that's a great idea.

[00:07:03] Karen Taylor: And the other piece of that is you're developing a relationship with this land. And I think it's it's really about shifting our perspective from owning property, to being in relationship and tending and being a species that is a part of the system of the ecosystem. So. So that's kind of where it all begins is with observation and really connecting with the land.

[00:07:39] And then nature awareness, classes, and teachings. They often talk about finding a sit spot. And so it's a place where you go and you sit for, you know, 20 minutes. And the idea is that you do it regularly, daily if possible, or you know, every week or every quarter, but where you go and you sit and 20 minutes is and I say after it takes about 15 minutes for critters to go back to their activities after you've interrupted them.

[00:08:07] Alice Lema: So, because they know you're there.

[00:08:10] Karen Taylor: And so, right. And so and then it's also about having an openness to listening and listening to what the other creatures have to say. So there's communication happening. It's just us slowing down and taking the time to actually listen. And, and yeah, so it's, it's, it's about relationship.

[00:08:37] Alice Lema: So this idea of watching for four whole seasons before you start making any changes, that what you mean before you start making any changes or what we would call improvements.

[00:08:49] Karen Taylor: Yeah. Yeah, but it doesn't mean it doesn't mean don't do anything. I often suggest that people put in a, you know, start starting an annual vegetable garden somewhere. Because even if that's not going to always be your annual garden, it's your, you're improving the soil and you're building soil and adding nutrients. And you know, so maybe you end up planting an orchard there instead later, but you know, so annuals are something that are Seasonal.

[00:09:23] So it's not going to it's it's not a permanent plant. So so yeah, because people are like, oh, I want to put in the orchard over here and I want to do this over there and but this like, well, wait a minute. Is that really where the orchard wants to go?

[00:09:36] Alice Lema: So. Interesting. Yeah. And I guess if you're watching the water directions and the wind directions and how that's affecting the land, you might change your mind in a season or two or a year or two. That's very interesting. So the science of this allows for all of the different pieces to work together, almost like a, maybe a well fit gear. Oh, it's the whole . Yeah. Yeah. It's hard to talk in a spherical way when you're, when, when you're a linear person. Like, so, but w before we got started, you had mentioned the concept of social forestry, and I just find that fascinating. Can you just touch on for a little bit and, and bring our audience kind of up to speed. What that means.

[00:10:28] Karen Taylor: Absolutely. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where we're surrounded by forest. Social forestry is, again, it's, it's about developing a relationship with the forest. And if you think about before colonization indigenous folks, tribal people were tending the forest. That was, I mean, it was a very interactive process. It was you know, they used fire and you know, they harvested from the forest. And so it was a very, it was a relationship. The forest are kin, so they're relatives. And then with colonization it became a resource that we extract.

[00:11:15] And so it's coming back into right relationship with the forest because it's a very important part of our ecosystem. And so social forestry is working with the forest. We're doing a lot of fuel reduction and. But instead of just making big slash piles and burning things we are sorting, so we're taking poles that could be used for building. We've got material that can be used for basketry or, you know, making small furniture.

[00:11:46] We do, we make charcoal and bio char. So, and we're working in a group with hand tools. We're not using chainsaws and power tool really. Conversations, you can hear the birds. And so it's and there's a whole culture around it. So it's like, how do we bring, how do we build culture and how do we bring that back into the forest?

[00:12:12] Alice Lema: Wow. That is absolutely fascinating. So. These traditional ancient ways that are kind of coming back into use now, how much of an audience are, are you finding? Are you finding people are receptive to doing this? Are you finding that, that you've got folks that want to join in?

[00:12:32] Karen Taylor: Absolutely. We teach a social forestry class every year and it's it's six days, usually in little Applegate and we always have a waiting list. Yeah, people are ready and wanting to, to have this connection.

[00:12:49] Alice Lema: So if somebody wanted to study with one of these, go into one of these six day classes is, is this ,a overnight? Is this like, what, how does, what are the logistics and how do you spend each day?

[00:13:03] Karen Taylor: So so it's a winter course we camp while in the winter. Yeah. And we start each day with song or a small ritual there's classroom time where we actually study some of the science around forestry and different practices. And then part of the day, sometimes most of the day we're actually outside actually doing work. You know, learning how to do forest stand assessment, how to manage brush how to make bio char.

[00:13:39] So yeah, it's, it's a very hands-on course. And then we cook meals together in the evening and Yeah, and we were actually, we actually had our classroom outdoors this year because of COVID. So we do have some simple shelters that we use for our kitchen and, and classroom area, but we actually met outside and it was the weather was nice enough that we could do that. It wasn't too cold.

[00:14:06] Alice Lema: So yeah. Yeah. Well, you gotta be a pretty Hardy person to do that in the Applegate in the fall, but it sounds very intriguing. So what is you said one of the things you study in these classes is assessment would, you've got a break coming up, so let's just quickly touch on it and we'll get the rest of it after.

[00:14:27] Karen Taylor: Okay. So it's, it's really looking at the forest and seeing what is, what are the health of the trees how much thinning needs to happen? What are materials that you can harvest for you know, for different projects and use and. And it really is about the health of the forest.

[00:14:46] Alice Lema: Well, it must be quite an art. So we do have to take a quick break. We're talking to Karen Taylor, she's a permaculture educator and designer. She's here locally out of Ashland, and we're going to have a more in-depth discussion of the science and the benefits right after word from our sponsor, do not touch that dial.

[00:15:07] Well, welcome back to the real estate show folks. I'm Alice Lema, broker John L. Scott here in Southern Oregon. And we're right in the middle of this really great educational conversation with Karen Taylor. She's a permaculture educator and designer. And right before the break, we were just starting to touch on some of the classwork that she does in the forest. And there's actually a training on assessing the forest and assessing what can be done. So let's go through that again, just real quick, the walking around and what you're looking for and, and the plan you put together.

[00:15:46] Karen Taylor: Great. Yeah. So one of the things we have to remember is that our forests have, they've become pretty overgrown. I've, I've walked around with several different foresters. My business partner, Hazel is has a forestry degree and we've, we've also walked around forests with some other foresters in the area. And when you're looking at, especially like the Doug fir and the Ponderosa, some of the bigger trees, there's usually a lot more spacing in historic forest than what we have now. And so so we're looking at the health of the trees. Like how you know, are they struggling? Are they getting enough sun? Are there too many trees growing close together. And so maybe there, it needs to be a little bit of thinning.

[00:16:39] Depending on where you are in the region, different forests tend to have different characteristics. So there's Oak pine Savanna, then we've, we've got our conni fer forests. There's the Madrone. You know, the forest that have a good bit of Madrone in them. And you know, this isn't my expertise, but I'm definitely learning.

[00:16:59] I'm starting to learn more and more. So I wouldn't be the one to do the forest stand assessment, but but in our class, we'll look at what needs to be thinned. And, and also you have to keep in mind, wildlife too. It's like, you don't want to thin everything the same way across the board. There's what's called a forest mosaic.

[00:17:23] So there's areas where it's a little denser. There's areas where it's more open. Or along riparian areas, you're going to leave different species. So so it's definitely an art and a science to it.

[00:17:36] Alice Lema: It is very intricate. Isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. So the idea of having an assessment right from the beginning and teaching people that, I just think, you know, having a good foundation before you launch any project is going to be more helpful. And I didn't really understand the intricacy of these ecological systems. And, and of course you would have a mosaic I'm listening to you talk. I was like, well, that makes perfect sense. You know, not to thin everything the same way. Yeah. Yeah, it's really, really interesting. So taking the concepts we were just talking about of assessment and putting together a plan and creating a more holistic science about all this, how would that apply to other kinds of properties besides forest farming in town, what would be the water considerations?

[00:18:32] Karen Taylor: Right. Well, often on farms. Especially larger farms there's, there's often forest as well. And farmers are so busy that they're focusing on their crops and, you know, often don't have time to attend the forest. There's Oregon department of forestry and the NRCS and Jackson, soil and water conservation district all have programs that will help people find funding for, for doing forestry work.

[00:19:00] And one of the first things to do though, is to have a Forester come out and do what's called a forest stewardship plan and, and come up with a plan for managing is what they call it. I like to call it tending. It's a little less colonial. It's a nice word. And. And then there's out of that kind of, that comes a prescription.

[00:19:25] And so it's like, how do you it's like, what is the goal for the forest? Like what are you trying to do? And most, most of what we're doing out here is fuel reduction and a lot of ways, but you know, how are we, how are we managing the forest for its health and also the health of other species. So. That's forest. And what was your question again?

[00:19:52] Alice Lema: We were just talking about if, if we're going to apply some of this science to farming and properties in town, and then what our water considerations just the, the assessment and the putting together of attending plan. How would that apply to farms and regular folks? The permaculture permaculture science standpoint.

[00:20:14] Karen Taylor: So for farms and and home sites, you know, I actually live in Ashland, so I don't have a big farm. I've got you know, less than a quarter of an acre. So I mean, the first thing to do is to look at what are all of the things that you would like to do on your land. So it's like coming up with a list of elements of, you know, do you want to have animals?

[00:20:43] And what are, what are the needs of those animals? You know, they need shelter, they need food, they need a place to roam. They need maybe they need grazing land. So look at, look at all of the, the needs, and then there's also yields off of that come out of having livestock or certain crops. So, so you start to look at all of the pieces that you want to you want to have on your side.

[00:21:13] And then looking at what the needs are and what the yields, and then you're trying to match up it's, what's called closing the loop. So the waste of one thing might be a resource or nutrients for another. So so animals, so say you have chickens or ducks for instance. They definitely need shelter from predators.

[00:21:35] But they make really good manure for the garden and they are great at eating insects. So and they need certain kinds of foods and grains. So maybe you can grow the food that the animals eat and then they eat it. And then they put that out. That goes back into the garden, that's growing their food. So it's, it's a closed loop.

[00:21:56] Alice Lema: That's so integrated. That's a lot of thought.

[00:21:59] Karen Taylor: It's integrated, but then there's also even the location of where their are shelter is, and maybe it goes in a place where you can catch the water off of the roof and that water goes into a tank. And then you can, that's the water that the you know, that the ducks splash in.

[00:22:16] So it's how, how, instead of creating all of these separate systems that are independent of each other, how do we work with them so that they, help each other out. So so yeah, integrated systems and, Hm.

[00:22:38] Alice Lema: It also sounds like there's no waste, there's no effort wasted. There's no location wasted and all that is done ahead of time cause you're thinking about it and watching, which is just so, so smart. Right?

[00:22:53] Karen Taylor: So in in permaculture, we do, we spend a lot of time assessing a site and there's a whole series of steps. And one of them is to look at micro-climates. So to actually map so microclimate is like on the north side of your building, it might be shady and cool all winter and it stays cooler in the summer.

[00:23:17] The south side is going to be warmer, there's more sunshine. The west side gets that really hot, you know, late afternoon sun. So it's really looking at the microclimates and you know, where are trees providing shade. And maybe you have a Creek that's that's, you know, moist and cool all year. So it's mapping those microclimates looking at your sun, you know, the solar pattern.

[00:23:42] And then then there's looking at what we call sectors. And sectors are things that move across the site. So when does the sector wild animals. So if you have like an animal corridor, I've got the deer that liked to go right across the front yard.

[00:24:03] So mapping where the wildlife corridors are. We have a fire sector where if there's yeah, on a initial ignition, where would fire come from? Like, you know, is it going to come up the hill from the road below? So so water, wind, fire, sun, wildlife views, are there views that you like. There's views that you might want to cover up. So that, so there's so that's sectors. And then we look at zones and that's if you kind of think of like a bullseye there's like zone zero is the house zone. One is the most intensively use area of your yard or farm. It might be the pathway to the chicken coop and back. So really mapping how you're using the land now.

[00:25:02] So there's four there's five zones and they kind of go out by level of intensity of use with zone fives, being more is the wild land. It's like that would be you're you're going and visiting it seasonally, but you're not really. You know, it's more for the wildlife. And so, so yeah, so we're collecting all of this information to get a better understanding of, of the land we're on. And and then you start making connections and putting, building up these layers of understanding. So yeah.

[00:25:41] Alice Lema: So when you're let's say you live in town. And you have a yard and you want to be more integrated and use the science of permaculture. Let's say you just bought a house and its a real estate show. Let's say you just bought a house. What would be the first couple of things you would do just to get ready, to get your yard ready?

[00:26:04] Karen Taylor: Right? Well, one of the first things that I did was I started mapping the sun and shadow patterns and I chose the summer Equinox. And the fall and that's, I mean, summer solstice, fall Equinox and winter solstice it was too cloudy. So I, I did not get a lot of shadows, but I started mapping my sun patterns and shade and micro-climates and and water. So I really started looking at where you know, is there water that's flowing off of my site from my house. And you know, I, I have to have a garden.

[00:26:51] Alice Lema: So, and a lot of people here in Southern Oregon do, and we've got to take a real quick break. We're talking to Karen Taylor permaculture educator designer. We'll be right back after a quick break.

[00:27:02] Well, welcome back everybody to the real estate show. I'm Alice Lema. I'm a broker here at John L. Scott in Southern Oregon. And we're just talking to Karen Taylor, the permaculture educator and designer here locally, and wow. What an education we've had so far. So Karen, right before the break we were talking about, if you just have a regular house, regular yard and monitoring the sun patterns, the shadow, the rainfall and the wild animals, just in town who would've thought you could even do that. And that's just the beauty of this science, isn't it? That can be applied to any kind of property.

[00:27:42] Karen Taylor: Absolutely. Even if you live in an apartment with just the little porch, so we'll use this anywhere.

[00:27:50] Alice Lema: That's fabulous. That's fabulous. I hope we have time. You know, we could talk about this for hours and hours. One of the big thoughts on people's minds right now is the water and, you know, did we have a good enough winter this year? And how is that going to affect things for the rest of the 2022? What are your thoughts on that?

[00:28:16] Karen Taylor: I am I'm concerned. I'm definitely concerned about our snowpack and water. And so I am looking at how can I make the most of the water that I have, and I do collect water. I've got I use 500 gallon tanks, and so I have 1500 gallons worth of storage, which really is not a lot of water when you're talking about irrigation.

[00:28:42] But it's still it's rainwater and rainwater is, you know, as much better than ground water if you're on a well, and it's yeah, and it comes off of the roof and flows into the you know, into the storm drain otherwise. So, and the other thing that I'm looking at is how do I raise my gray water and how can I get my, so gray water is water that comes from the washing machine showers and sinks, and the kitchen sink, as long as it's not on the disposal.

[00:29:17] Alice Lema: So relatively clean, not your sewage.

[00:29:23] Karen Taylor: Not, yeah, definitely not the toilet, but that's a whole other day.

[00:29:28] Alice Lema: I just want to make sure we're clear people going back to your gray water usage.

[00:29:33] Karen Taylor: So a fairly simple usually, sometimes it can be more complicated, but the most, the easiest greywater to have access to is the laundry, the washing machine. And there's a system called laundry to landscape, and you're actually using the pump of the washing machine a little bit to move the water through your irrigation pipe, to water the plants in your yard. And it's really you know, a great way to keep a nice well-watered area around the house, which is where you want to have a lot of moisture, because it's also a fire prevention to have irrigated landscape near the house.

[00:30:20] And it also can help create a cooler environment around the house as well. And so gray water is legal in Oregon. You do need a Oregon department of environmental quality DEQ permit. And if you're in Ashland, so, so the county and cities have different rules around whether you need a plumbing permit or not.

[00:30:43] So that's something to research. Okay. So each municipality gets to decide or at, you know but if you think about it's water, that is pretty clean. I mean, there's actually some nutrients in it now because you've used it once. You've like rinse things off, you've washed your hands. There's dirt from your clothes, but that's stuff that can just go back into the soil and, and feed your plants.

[00:31:09] Alice Lema: Never thought of it that way. That's great.

[00:31:12] Karen Taylor: And so and if you think of washing machines, they're really high efficiency machines. It's probably about 15 gallons a load. If you have a top letters, like can be, or an old washing machine, the older ones, it can be, you know, 20 to 40 gallons, a load, depending on how how much you're washing.

[00:31:32] So, so yeah, reusing water in the landscape instead of sending it into the sewer, septic. And collecting rainwater, but also instead of there's some developments where the roof water is, it goes in a pipe, doesn't even touch the soil. It goes into a pipe into the storm, drain, disconnect those pipes and send it into your landscapes.

[00:31:58] So you're not having to use more water to irrigate with. There's ways of doing that by creating rain gardens or tree wells. Yeah, there's a number of different ways of holding onto that water and because the soil and plants are really the best way to store water.

[00:32:17] Alice Lema: That's amazing. Do you happen to know any of the permit rules? Are there any for collecting rainwater?

[00:32:25] Karen Taylor: In Ashland tanks have to be in the backyard. You can't have them in the front yard. And I think they can only be six feet tall.

[00:32:35] Alice Lema: That's kind of an odd rule. Why would they care?

[00:32:39] Karen Taylor: I think it has to do with aesthetics.

[00:32:42] Alice Lema: Huh? I'm like all right. Well, moving on. No offense, actually.

[00:32:53] Karen Taylor: I don't know if there's a limit to how much you can collect. I'm not sure. In the county you can divert rainwater into, I'm pretty sure you can divert it into a lined pond. As long as it never touches the ground. So once it touches the ground, then it's surface water.

[00:33:13] But if you're directing it directly from a downspout through a pipe, onto a pond structure and I'm pretty sure you can do that. There's some, there's some rules and regulations based on the size of the pond and how big the dam is and that sort of thing.

[00:33:28] Alice Lema: Yeah, those those techniques sound fairly inexpensive and not too complicated. And if we are facing another drought year it might it might help if enough people do that, it might help.

[00:33:43] Karen Taylor: Yes. And if you think about it, especially in developed areas where we have roads and parking lots, the water that falls on those surfaces used to soak into the ground, right? And now it's running off. And so we're trying to hold on as much of that water high in the landscape, high in the watershed, allowing it to soak in and slow down and. In a way it feeds, it feeds the aquifers and it's, and it feeds the watershed.

[00:34:15] Alice Lema: Yeah. And that is the integration of it all. Isn't it.

[00:34:21] Karen Taylor: So I was going to just say Brad is a water water harvesting guru in Tucson, Arizona. He has a couple of books called rainwater harvesting for dry lands and beyond. And and I also just wanted to say the my business is Siskiyou Permaculture and we have a website that's just Siskiyou Permaculture.Org, and we teach classes and do consultations.

[00:34:45] Alice Lema: And how about a quick cell phone with the few seconds we have left?

[00:34:48] Karen Taylor: My phone number is 541-690-7376.

[00:34:55] Alice Lema: Great. Thank you. Karen permaculture, educator, and designer. This broadcast will be repeated tomorrow at six o'clock. We'll have you back again, Karen. That was great. Have a great weekend, everybody.

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