Last Summer Plant Sale Weekend

OAEC Plant Sale

Saturday and Sunday are the last two days of the Summer Plant Sale until our Plant Sales resume for our Fall Plant Sale! We still have an incredibly wide array of beautiful … Read more

The OAEC Cookbook is Here! Plus: Sample Recipe

olivia rathbone and cookbook

We are thrilled to announce that the long-awaited Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook has arrived! Published by Chelsea Green and with a foreword by Alice Waters, the Cookbook shares the … Read more

It’s Spring! What To Be Planting Now

OAEC kale

Annuals Gardeners — the days are getting longer and warmer, so we know you’ve got the itch to start playing in your garden beds! There are many crops that you can … Read more

Why California Is Localizing Its Waters


The Connection Between Energy and Water — Water conservation and reuse aren’t just about water quantity, but about dramatically reducing the energy requirement of our water systems. Did you know that nearly … Read more

What is a Resilient School?

resilient school

Educating for Sustainability: Tenacious educators committed to sustainability have made tremendous strides nationwide in increasing student and ecological wellbeing— The School Garden Movement has been connecting young people to healthy food choices, place-based inquiry … Read more

Beaverpalooza 2015

WATER Institute drought beaver

The WATER Institute Beaver Campaign Hits The Road! In late February and early March, Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman of the WATER Institute made great headway in forwarding their Bring … Read more

Carbon Farming Benefits Soil, Water and Climate

State of the Soil Conference

Ranching and farming practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing atmospheric carbon into soil. Last week, 50 soil scientists, ranchers, farmers and carbon farming advocates from around the United … Read more

Highlights from EcoFarm

OAEC Permaculture

Last week’s 35th annual EcoFarm Conference gathered nearly 2000 sustainable agriculture experts and allies for education, rejuvenation and celebration with a new twist: the Permaculture Track! Thanks to EFA’s Executive … Read more

OAEC Cookbook Release: April 2015!

OAEC Cookbook

The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook, by the OAEC Staff Collective and Kitchen Manager Olivia Rathbone, is a collection of inventive recipes from OAEC — a renowned farm, educational retreat center, … Read more

Welcome to the New OAEC Website

OAEC website

Welcome to the new! We have spent the past year redesigning our website to better tell the story of the world that we envision and how that vision shapes our projects and partnerships. … Read more

Brock Dolman & Eve Ensler at Bioneers 2014

brock dolman and eve ensler, bioneers 2014

At the 2014 Bioneers Conference, OAEC’s Brock Dolman joined forces with renowned author and V-Day founder Eve Ensler to present about the City of Joy, a recovery center and permaculture farm … Read more

The Benefits of Prescribed Fires

prescribed fire

In a time of climate change and drought, California’s forests are increasingly under the threat of catastrophic fires. While the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on … Read more

Help Us Map Beaver Sightings in California!

Child's Meadow Beaver Dam

Join our Citizen Science campaign to map current distribution of beaver in California. As part of our Bring Back the Beaver campaign, The WATER Institute is collaborating with Eli Asarian … Read more

Our 20th Anniversary

OAEC Staff

This year, OAEC celebrates two decades of work in cultivating community-scale sustainability and resilience! The Evolution and Impact of OAEC In the summer of 1994, a small group of inspired friends … Read more

WATER Institute Director Learns to Relocate Beaver In Colorado

Kate Lundquist and Kevin Swift live trapping beaver in Colorado

In the summer of 2014, WATER Institute Director Kate Lundquist went to Colorado to learn to live trap and relocate beaver (Castor canadensis) from long-time beaver advocate Sherri Tippie of Wildlife 2000. Accompanied by her partner and non-lethal beaver management designer Kevin Swift, Kate got see first hand how the state of Colorado is successfully implementing this important non-lethal beaver management strategy. Beaver dams provide numerous benefits to the communities they reside in, from increasing water supply to creating valuable habitat for many other species.

Why did they have to go all the way to Colorado to learn about this? Because it is not legal to do so in California. While many arid western states (Oregon, Washington State, Utah and Colorado) move beaver to places that could benefit from the myriad ecosystem services they provide, California law focuses solely on hunting and lethal management of nuisance beaver.

Kate setting beaver trapIn the absence of such innovative practices, the WATER Institute has launched a Bring Back the Beaver Campaign to integrate beaver management into California policy and regulation in order to improve water quality and quantity, create critical wetland habitat for numerous endangered species and optimize aquatic resource conservation and climate change adaptation strategies.

Colorado’s example is one that the WATER Institute intends to use when making policy recommendations to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



The SOIL Permaculture Design Process

Permaculture Design in Haiti

The SOIL Permaculture Design Process After touring the SOIL collection and processing sites around Cap-Haitien, we arrived at the SOIL office, farm, and associated KOMOP farm properties. (KOMOP is a … Read more


Cap Haitian Sunset

We arrived by bus in Cap-Haitien, the second largest city in Haiti located on the north shore. The bus ride was a 6-hour journey in which the bus barreled on … Read more

Symphony of "Konpos" with SOIL

Playing in compost

Today’s work was to visit the SOIL composting site at the city dump in Twitye to learn about the specifics of the humanure handling and thermophilic composting practices. The SOIL … Read more

From Metal to Magic – Spending Sunday with SOIL

SOIL door

  Our Collaboration in Haiti OAEC was invited to visit to Haiti by SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods – as an organizational exchange to help each other further current projects. … Read more

Wynne Farm


JeanCUWe met our translator today, Jean Arnaud. He is Haitian and has lived in the US off and on since he was 10 years old. He studied permaculture at UMASS and was part of the 2012 student team awarded the Champions of Change Challenge, part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Jean is a true ambassador for us – he straddles both cultures of the US and Haiti linguistically, culturally, ecologically; he is an experienced permaculturist understanding the work OAEC and SOIL are collaborating on, and he has worked with SOIL before so he knows all the players as well as others in related fields that we should learn from. We are so thankful for Jean Arnaud!


Jean took us, SOIL staffers, Erica, Heather, and SOIL friend, Ingrid, up the mountain south of Port-au-Prince to visit Wynne Farm and Ecological Reserve ( in the Kenscoff area. Jane, the vibrant farm owner, grew up in Haiti with an American dad and Haitian mom. Her dad, Victor Wynne, moved to Haiti in 1923 and started a lifelong obsession with the cultivation and preservation of soil, water, and perennial food crops.


Victor, an early permaculture pioneer, was exchanging ideas in letters with Bill Mollison, Robert Rodale, and other great ecology minds as he developed his understanding and skills for managing water and soil. Victor seems to have independently hit upon the concept of on-contour swales for water infiltration and soil retention! Over his life, he brought hundreds of edible perennials to his farm in Haiti including a large bamboo collection and Andean edibles (narranjia, pepino dulce, tamarillo, passion fruit) growing next to peaches and kale.  The home site at the farm sports roof water catchment, swale garden beds, sheet mulching, perennial food forests and annuals thrown in, etc.



Jane worked with her father until he died at the age of 94 (working on the farm daily until 93) and continues to implement his vision of the biodiversity farm and education center with her daughter, Melissa and her family. They are an inspiring team. Melissa is a yoga teacher, environmental educator, and all-around deep thinker. School groups from our PAP visit each week and cultivate biophilia singing about the importance of the Earth and her systems, repurposing plastic bags into sturdy totes, creating recycled paper brickets, all while stuffing themselves with loquats.


Sound familiar? A true sister organization! Wynne farm seems to be a unique place with loving, earth system-minded caretakers in a sea of soil erosion. For more information about this amazing education and demonstration farm, check out their webpage at where you can read and listen to features done on them by NPR and the Toronto Star as well donate to their fine work. Viva la Wynne!

USAID’s experimental farm, upper Wynne Farm.
Double Black Diamond Agriculture


We have arrived! First Evening In Port au Prince

We have arrived!
Photo: Sashwa Burrous
Photo: Sashwa Burrous

After surviving an overnight flight and long morning of sleeping on the infamously freezing floor of the Miami airport, we (Kendall Dunnigan, Brock Dolman and Sashwa Burrous) arrived in the late afternoon to the warm and welcoming sounds of Haitian music pouring out of the little Port-au-Prince (PAP) airport.

Sasha Kramer from SOIL picked us up in the “basset mobile” (unfortunately, her sweet puppy was not along for the ride) and drove us through the bustling Friday afternoon streets of PAP to Rita’s Guesthouse.

Tap Tap Truck
Photo: Brock Dolman

Beautifully painted tap-taps (truck taxis called tap taps because you knock on the inside when you want to get out) honked and weaved through traffic. Women with baskets of goods for sale lined each street.

Port au Prince Sunset
Photo: Sashwa Burrous

As night fell, dozens of people gathered in the corner playground to eat, drink, and exercise on a variety of exercise machines. We were struck by the sense of calm, generosity, and safety that we were greeted with, a striking difference from the Port-au-Prince portrayed in the US media.

Barber Shop
Photo: Sashwa Burrous