In Their Own Words

Dailey in the field

My work at OAEC:

My work focuses on empowering individuals and communities to become regenerative land tenders, and to explore the edge between domestic and wild.

In addition to creating programming and curricula around Wildlands stewardship, I serve as a co-caretaker of the “Grandmother Garden,” OAEC’s 70-acre Zone 4 permaculture and traditional ecological knowledge demonstration site and Wildlands Preserve. We experiment with and demonstrate various types of extensive land management to tend native food, fiber, timber, and medicine plants, as well as support the diversity of critters that make themselves at home in the backcountry. We strive to support the land to heal itself, and create conditions conducive to life for all living things, human and nonhuman.

I also work with the Permaculture Program in OAEC’s collaboration with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, where we exchange wisdom and experience around traditional ecological ways of tending our local landscape. I collaborate with OAEC’s Nursery to curate a collection of edible and medicinal native plants.

My background:

I grew up in Northern California and after graduating from UCLA, my life was transformed while spending a year in rural Mexico supporting indigenous communities to develop sustainable agriculture cooperatives. Blessed with a brief taste of witnessing a culture that still lives in deep reciprocity with nature, I dove into a path of exploring what it means to be in right relationship with the earth.

After managing sustainability education programs for several years at the Solar Living Institute, I responded to an urge to get out of the office and into the dirt. I spent time working in a greenhouse propagating edible and medicinal plants while studying herbal medicine and co-founding a suburban natural building and permaculture community in the East Bay.

I traveled to Australia and studied broadacre permaculture with Darren Doherty and Geoff Lawton, and came back to California to begin my practice as a permaculture designer and educator. Inspired by California’s native cultures that sustained the most bio-culturally diverse and largest population on the North American continent at the time of European contact, I have landed at home in my passion for learning to tend the veritable food forest that occupies the rolling hills and oak woodlands of California.

Why my work matters:

I believe that in order for human beings to find a way to live peacefully on the planet, we must learn to feel in our bodies what it means to be a part of nature, not separate from it. Because use breeds intimacy, there is nothing more fulfilling to me than being with people out on the land, learning to tend and taste the abundance of the woods.

My passions:

I am passionate about tending, harvesting, and crafting beautiful things from nature, and exploring the inextricable link between healing our inner and outer landscapes.

I am in love with oak woodlands and the tremendous diversity of life they support, and am avidly exploring ways to tend this unique ecosystem and ensure its survival for future generations.

I am also deeply interested in the use of prescribed fire (controlled burning) as a strategy for broadacre grassland and forest restoration, and am a red-carded wildlands firefighter (or prescribed “firelighter” as the case may be)!

My favorite food is:

My favorite wild food is definitely camas (Camassia quamash), the delicious bulb of a California native perennial edible wildflower. Slow-baked in a pit roast they taste like caramelized sweet potatoes, oh yum!

How I regenerate:

Shaking my tail feather to good beats, making beautiful things from nature with my hands, cooking delicious food, and wandering in the woods.

What I obsess about:

How to tend wild plants in the ever-evolving landscape of California! Do they want fire? How much, and when, and under what conditions? Why aren’t the oaks regenerating? And how do we create a human culture that can be in one place long enough to remember how to listen to the land? Etc., etc., etc… nature is endlessly inspiring!


Dailey 2