OAEC supports diverse communities to design their own regenerative systems at the regional and local scale.
Our cookbook is a collection of inventive recipes inspired by seasonal eating from our biodiverse Mother Garden, orchards and Wildlands Preserve.
Experience the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center through a video tour and beautiful photographs of our Guest Houses, Meeting Room, Bathhouse, Kitchen & Dining Room, Mother Garden and more.
New in 2017: Now open every weekend April-October, Saturdays & Sundays from 10am-5pm! Our nursery specializes in open-pollinated perennials including edible landscaping plants, rare and endangered food crops, drought tolerant ornamentals and habitat plants. Join us for our three special Plant Sale Events focused on annual plants for starting your seasonal vegetable gardens.
OAEC offers the longest consistently running two-week Permaculture Design Certification course in the West. Immerse yourself in information, ideas and inspiration on how to design sustainable, regenerative systems in balance with your home ecosystem.
Our School Garden Teacher Training supports schools to integrate the school garden into multiple subject areas using place-based, experiential learning.
The OAEC Permaculture Design Program engages in projects that build community resilience at local and regional scales. We prioritize collaborating with communities that have been and will be hit first and worst from climate chaos, including urban and rural social and economic justice organizations partnering with impacted communities; educational institutions; sovereign tribal peoples; and those who steward critical ecosystems. We use a Resilient Community Design methodology to empower these communities to design their own solutions for ecological regeneration and personal and community dignity, justice, and well-being.
In early October 2016, Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew which destroyed nearly 80% of the Haitian seed supply. MPP (Peasant Movement of Papaye or Mouvement Peyisan Papay in Haitian Creole) is the oldest, largest and among the most impactful local peasant movements in Haiti. Following Hurricane Matthew, MPP put out a call for seed support and OAEC responded by raising money for MPP to purchase nearly 4 tons of organic, open-pollinated seeds from Haitian peasant farmers in less affected regions of the country.
Pictured here is an important bean variety on the island called Pwa Kongo (or Congo Bean), likely brought over to Haiti by enslaved Africans hundreds of years ago. photo by Cooper Freeman
As a place-based research center with a seed bank and an established seed saving program, OAEC is trialing a new (to us) plant breeding technique with these questions in mind. Together with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Northwest Prep Charter School, and Bayer Farm Neighborhood Park and Gardens, OAEC has planted over 550 varieties of winter wheat in 4 different Sonoma County locations using a process called Evolutionary Plant Breeding with hopes of expanding the future resilience of our locally adapted seed supply.
On April 15, 2017, Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force (KHCG TF), Earth Team, City of Hayward’s Landscape Department, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and the local and surrounding community members came together for a water saving extravaganza. Spearheaded by Jen Topper from Earth Team, more than 85 volunteers converted a 5,000 sq. ft lawn into a water-wise, Bay-friendly garden outside of Hayward City Hall. OAEC Permaculture Program Co-Director Kendall Dunnigan created the design and helped to supervise the installation.
SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) is a nonprofit organization based in Haiti that works to transform human waste into a resource by providing ecological sanitation and jobs for underserved communities lacking proper infrastructure. OAEC trained several SOIL staff members in a PDC at the International Permaculture Convergence (IPC11) in Cuba, and facilitated a collective permaculture design process with the SOIL staff in 2014 to design the SOIL ecology center and offices in the North of Haiti.
OAEC works with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to design their sovereign lands with a regenerative permaculture lens, engaging 1,300 tribal citizens in a collaborative ecological design process, resulting in the development of community gardens, wetlands restoration projects, and cultural education facilities. This process, an example of community permaculture design, empowers the tribe as a sovereign, self-governing people, enriching community cohesion and furthering personal wellbeing.
One of the most powerful instruments of oppression has been to tear people away from the land. From the perspective of healing and rebuilding oppressed communities comes Liberation Permaculture – a read of Permaculture that is about self-reclamation, cultural survival and independence. A direct challenge to the current social, economic and political system, it asserts that oppressed people have the right to draw upon traditional methods of living in balance with their environment to design for community resilience and regain social, political and economic independence. This concept inspired a training program called “Permaculture for the People,” developed by OAEC and the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project (MG).
The Permaculture Design program collaborated with the Case Grande High School in Petaluma to train 120 high school students (juniors and seniors) in permaculture design. The students then designed a 1-acre area in the middle of their campus to be an outdoor learning environment that included edible gardens, an outdoor kitchen, a recreational area, and an outdoor theater. The site and its activities were designed to connect to classroom activities of all subjects. OAEC staff facilitated this community permaculture design process.
Drawing by Timo Granzotti.
V-World Farm, a collaboration between Eve Ensler’s V-Day and OAEC, is a cooperative farm and recovery center for victims of sexual violence in the Congo that OAEC helped to develop using permaculture design. The farm, based in V-Day’s successful City of Joy (Bukavu, DRC) is designed to be a sustainable farm to heal the women of the Congo by healing the Earth. It is a place for graduates of the City of Joy and many more women like them to continue their healing process through learning valuable skills in a safe environment. The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center resourced, developed and facilitated a participatory permaculture design process whereby V-Day and the women it supports can realize their own vision and plan for the development of the V-World Farm.