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 Biodiversity Nursery offers thousands of varieties of open-pollinated plants through our three seasonal Plant Sale events (focused on annual plants) and numerous Perennials weekends.
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.
Michelle manages our nourishing gardens and coordinates with our Kitchen Manager to supply the kitchen with fresh organic garden produce for courses and community use. Her days are filled with all aspects of gardening, from sowing seeds, cultivating garden beds, planting to harvesting. She has helped the gardens blossom into a rich setting for experiential learning–Michelle works with two 9-month garden interns; leads volunteers on our weekly Wednesday Volunteer Days; and shares her 30 years of gardening experience in OAEC’s School Garden Teachers Trainings and Permaculture and Design Courses. Michelle also coordinates OAEC’s Internship program, working to bring unity, consistency, and support to interns serving in various parts of the organization.
On Staff Since: 2004 Phone: x114
I was raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County. I watched with sadness as the walnut orchards near our house, which I loved to explore, were replaced with tract homes. As I grew up I witnessed the systematic removal of farms, orchards and open space and was told to embrace this as “progress.” I am forever grateful to Dr. Bokin, my junior college Biology professor, who encouraged me to follow my heart.
I received a BS in Zoology and served in Peace Corps Philippines as a fresh water fisheries volunteer. It was in the Philippines that I began to learn the wisdom of an Earth-based culture and the sustainable integration of a healthy food system. This experience inspired me to learn a hand-tilled approach to growing organic food that is applicable anywhere in the world.
In 1996 I walked down the stairs into the gardens of the Farallones Institute (now the site of OAEC) and my life was forever changed. Gardening became central in my life. I took the practice of building living soil to educational projects in Mexico and Nepal and managed my own Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA) for 8 years in North Fork, California. My love of the earth and healthy food has inspired me to study herbal medicine (with Kami McBride and Candis Cantin) and the healing properties of food. This has informed my current approach to teaching people how to grow food and maintain their health.
Naka-Ima: Inside of Now. Through this practice of honesty, I have seen people transform themselves and break through the emotional barriers that hold us back.
I traveled through the remote deserts of Rajasthan, India for 4 days. It was just me, the camel, and the camel driver.
I believe that the health of our planet depends on us returning to earth based natural systems. Bringing the classroom back onto the land allows people not only reconnect with the soil and where our food comes from, but to have the opportunity to grow themselves in the process.
My passion is reconnecting people to the natural world and its healing potential.
My deeper exploration in Healing Through Foods began after my niece was diagnosis with Leukemia at the age of 8. My effort to understand why so many children were getting sick led me to the work of Weston A. Price and his research into how traditional people stayed healthy and the adverse impact of the introduction of the diet of commerce. Working in a variety of situations has also taught me the importance of tending to Zone Zero, our inner landscape, to clear ourselves emotionally as we work to make positive change in the world.
Sitting above a High Sierra’s lake surrounded by hundreds of hummingbirds, columbine, and arnica.