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.
Ariel calls herself a feral agrarian – one whose agricultural practice sits on the edge of domestication. How can agriculture regenerate wild systems? And how can wildness support agriculture? These are the questions Ariel loves to reckon with as she’s perched in fruit trees or moving cows across rolling California grassland. After delving into fruit and vegetable production throughout her teens and early 20’s, Ariel began to learn of the significance of grassland ecosystems for planetary health—and subsequently, the ruminants that maintain them. So in 2014 she joined Holistic Ag, a cattle company that partners with conservation landbases to use animal impact as a tool for restoration. As herdess at land partner Pepperwood Preserve in the Mayacama of Sonoma County, she manages over 150 cattle to sensitively graze its many acres of grasslands and savanna. Complementary to her broadacre pastoral pursuits, Ariel hones her practice as an orchardperson by caring for the trees at OAEC. She strives to balance a horticultural focus on individual trees with the broader environment that surrounds them, to the benefit of all. When not up a tree or miles deep with the herd, she blogs at arielgreenwood.com, and enjoys speaking opportunities to share her enthusiasm for carbon-storing, bioregion-boosting perennial pursuits.
On Staff Since: 2016
I manage the health and productivity of OAEC’s extensive collection of fruit trees. This involves pruning and training, thinning and harvesting fruit, managing the understory health, mitigating pests and diseases, and representing the trees to all who share their space and enjoy their fruit.
I was unschooled in the rural wilds of North Carolina’s piedmont region. I began working on farms in 2006 and haven’t looked back. Greenhouses, row crops, heavy machinery, farmer’s markets, college gardens, software company campuses and urban farms have all played shaped my vocational context. In college, I studied both psychology and agroecology—to me, highly complementary disciplines that sit at the locus of my motivation for engaging in agriculture: the reciprocal nature of healthy humans and healthy bioregions.
Fruit is delicious, and trees rule! OAEC has a highly curated and long-loved collection of pome, stone, vine, and citrus fruits that give to their home community year after year. And because of its creative kitchen team and wonderful volunteers, the fruit is well-loved from blossom to bite. As orchard manager, I’m serving as facilitator to the trees’ fruitfulness and guardian to their long-term health.
At some point in my life I hope to be engaged in a polycultural re-wilding project involving perennial plants and a Noah’s Ark of detritivores, herbivores, and predators… with the requisite ratty band of grazers and tree people afoot to help shepherd landscapes towards a wildly abundant savanna.
I’m a bit obsessed with functional relationships writ large across the landscape. Are the animals fed, and are the people communicating? Where’s the grassland going? What does managed animal impact mean for the health of trees, watersheds, people? Social change, like ecological change, is mycelial. It’s catalytical. And this means little opportunities to advance succession towards a resilient perennial polyculture are everywhere. In my herd work, I obsess over grassland succession and getting beef into the bellies of my friends. With the trees, I obsess over the craft of pruning and coaxing their surrounding ecosystems to life. This interaction effect—these emergent properties—leave me humbled and enchanted.
Hearty food, earnest friendship, my family, back rubs, and the work of Ivan Illich.
It’s any time I’m on the dance floor!
Writing poems and playing guitar—often quite poorly, but with much enthusiasm.