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.
At the OAEC WATER Institute, we call our philosophical and practical responses to the water challenges and opportunities before us “Conservation Hydrology.”
Conservation Hydrology utilizes the disciplines of ecology, population biology, biogeography, economics, anthropology, philosophy, planning, and history to guide community-based watershed literacy, planning, and action. It advocates that human development decisions must move from a “dehydration model” to a “rehydration model.” To achieve this goal, we must retrofit existing development patterns with new ones based on the principles described below.
“The old drain-age is now being replaced by a new retain-age.”
Water is the ultimate resource. Thankfully, the Clean Water Act now recognizes the “pave and pipe paradigm” as disastrously flawed and hydro-illiterate. These outmoded engineering practices capture, concentrate, and convey water away from a site as quickly as possible. The old drain-age is now being replaced by a new retain-age.
The WATER Institute advocates a new paradigm of stormwater management based on “waterspread” restoration, with a call to slow it, spread it, sink it: Slow the water down. Spread the water out. Sink the water into the land.
Practical waterspread applications, such as bio-swales and raingardens serve to biologically filter stormwater, enhancing water quality. These applications can also enhance water quantity by optimizing groundwater recharge and reducing peak flood flows. If you live in a flood plain, these ideas may be more challenging to implement. You will need to evaluate the slope stability, soil porosity, storm event size, and run-off volumes of your site to determine which of these concepts are appropriate. When we learn to think like a watershed, we can transform development practices that will protect water quality and quantity.
The goals of Conservation Hydrology can be expressed in terms of sound budget management. The 4 R’s of a water budget are equivalent to income, deposit, savings, and expense. We want the water balance of our watersheds to run in the blue and not in the red. We want to insure that our liquid assets continually produce a high quality return on investment back into our Basins of Relations.