In Their Own Words

Michelle at OAEC

My background:

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.

What gives me hope:

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.

The wildest adventure I’ve ever took:

I traveled through the remote deserts of Rajasthan, India for 4 days. It was just me, the camel, and the camel driver.

Why my work matters:

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 passions:

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.

What inspires me:


My favorite place to be:

Sitting above a High Sierra’s lake surrounded by hundreds of hummingbirds, columbine, and arnica.


Michelle with arnica