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.
Our 100% Certified Organic plant nursery specializes in open-pollinated perennials including edible landscaping plants, rare and endangered food crops, drought tolerant ornamentals and habitat plants - all tested in our onsite gardens and appropriate for our bioregion.
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.
In 2005, Jim earned a MS in Biology studying grassland restoration at Sonoma State University and since that time has been primarily focused on that work within the OAEC ecological preserve. In addition to Jim’s endeavors at OAEC, he has worked as a field ecologist for the California Native Plant Society in their efforts to help generate a vegetation and habitat map for Sonoma County. Jim works with private land owners and land managers in establishing botanical and photo monitoring protocols that help aid in the successful conservation and restoration of healthy ecosystems. He has served as field ecologist on several restoration studies and mapping efforts of the endangered California Coastal Prairie. In addition to his work in terrestrial systems, Jim has also been active in the recovery of endangered Coho Salmon by helping to restore in-stream habitat. As an interpretive naturalist, Jim also enjoys his many opportunities to teach and lead people in their own nature awareness explorations.
On Staff Since: 2004 Phone: x112
I was born and raised in rural Michigan, where family, friends, lakes, forest, snow and mosquitoes taught me how to love, feel wonder and be resilient. When I was 6 years old, the death of my mother and strength of my father taught me both the ephemerality and adaptability of the human experience. From an early age at the end of a quiet dirt road, my dog and I befriended the wild plants, animals and places around my home that provided endless entertainment, instruction and joy in being aware, engaged and playful.
Athletics taught me discipline, persistence and focus. I earned an athletic scholarship to college where I was able to experience the rewards of prolonged hard work. With a degree in Biology, Chemistry and Art, I went on to work in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cape Cod, Vermont, Alaska and Costa Rica. I’ve been able to lead young and old in outdoor nature discovery and also work as a field ecologist in various settings.
With the gift/curse of having far-ranging interests and abilities, I’ve been fortunate to be supported in my work at OAEC as a specialized generalist—first as a facilities intern from 2000-2002, then as a staff member starting in 2004.
I have the stimulating challenge of work that covers a range of programs, operations and disciplines. Depending on the needs of the day, I swap many hats and tools, and am fortunate to have the support of co-workers who are flexible and forgiving. Sometimes I get to use cameras to support OAEC’s programmatic objectives by creating images that help tell the story of this place and the wonderful work and play that happens here. I am proud to be able to work with body and mind on many aspects of facilities and land management. I’ve gotten a little bit good at a lot of different things and have appreciated the educational opportunities in having to just figure things out.
I enjoy, most of all, the times when I find myself outside with dirt under the nails, sweat on the brow and contentment in the heart. I enjoy hard work and the satisfaction of contributing to the health and wellbeing of the land and its occupants.