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.
Miriam Volat works personally and professionally to promote health in all systems. She works as a facilitator, researcher, educator, small farm advocate and community organizer to increase broad-based community and ecological resiliency. Her work focuses on food, agriculture and water systems and the intersection of biological and socio-cultural diversity. Miriam teaches in our Permaculture Design Certification course and directs both our compost toilet research and our onsite/decentralized water policy work. She has never stopped exploring nutrient cycles and soil ecology, the emphasis of her M.S. work in the UC Davis Vegetable Crops Dept. She also has degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Since 1995, Miriam has facilitated multi stakeholder processes with policy and community organizing impacts, strategic planning and decision-making processes for organizations working to sustain our ecosystems, community visioning, food-system assessment and design processes. Miriam serves as Board Member of Sonoma Counties’ Daily Acts Organization and is the Co-Director of The Permaculture Skills Center.
On Staff Since: 2014 Phone: x128
I had the good fortune, growing up, to have many hours of unstructured time to wander Sonoma Mountain and develop a relationship with the stunning ecosystems of Sonoma County. I knew from the age of 7 or 8 that I would always work to protect the creeks where I chased frogs, built forts, caught fish and learned about water physics. This commitment has led me to work primarily in the food system, as I have always wanted to live in human settlements where feeding ourselves abundantly could be done without harming our home.
I have worked as a researcher studying non-point source pollution to groundwater from agriculture, I have worked as a small farms educator, I have studied ecology, plant and soil biology, political science, I developed a deep interest in, and commitment to democratic processes as a child growing up in the early 70s community revolution. Then, as an under-graduate, I began my facilitation career supporting the research decision-making for a long-term sustainable agriculture project run by thirteen professors all from different fields. I was hooked on learning the skills for finding common language and values in the midst of complexity and diversity as a way to balancing our short term and long-term human needs as members of broader communities and ecosystems.
Being my daughter Cora’s Mama, friends, trees, birds, bird song, water, my health, my family, the smell of healthy soil, walking, Google search, naps, and the agricultural bounty of Sonoma County.
I work to remove barriers to implementing ecological design in our human settlements while creating rules that encourage practices that lead to health in all systems. I work through collaboration, facilitation, research and strategic action across our programs and with partner organizations. Currently, I am combining my backgrounds in soil biology, ground-water protection, food systems advocacy and multi-stakeholder facilitation to empower California leaders to protect the quality and quantity of our water and reduce green house gas emissions from our water systems through the California Decentralized Water Policy Council.
I love cooking food for people. I love cooking with out a recipe, with food from the garden, food people have given, food I’ve fermented or stored, collected in the forest or from the side of the road, food that has a story, food with lots of color and contrast. I love to weave ingredients into something that warms and nourishes and might never happen again, but the memory of which, pops up in stories years later.
I am also passionate about process design. Whether it is a 15-minute meeting, a 14-day training, a yearlong course, a Council with a purpose that may last 20 years, a home-school topic flow for my 10-year old and her buddies. I love playing with the order of things, the beginnings, endings and rhythms.
I am honored to be working on making it legally possible for the communities and individuals training in ecological design, creating visions and plans for their homes and communities, to be able to implement their designs. Here at OAEC, and through our programs, thousands of people gain understanding and access methods and technological ideas for how to live in balance with and design with the rest of nature. We must have the rules and governance systems in place to support and allow these visions to become our reality.
A well-funded Global pact to allow all communities to redesign themselves, with the guiding principles of Health, Fun, and Beauty and the unequivocal right for ALL to abundant food and clean water procured in an ecologically sustainable manner that honors biological and cultural diversity. I would like to help facilitate!