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The climate is changing and so is the OAEC Nursery!

Blogpost published on: Thursday, January 18th, 2018

OAEC greenhouse

The OAEC non-profit nursery is the outward face of our 45-year-old esteemed Mother Garden and represents an outreach into the community from the experience, work and wisdom we’ve gained by working the land in the same place since 1974.

The climate is changing and so is the OAEC Nursery!

When we produced our first Plant Sale as an experiment in 1995, we had no idea that we would strike such a resonant chord of interest with the local community for the organically grown vegetable seedlings and unusual perennials propagated from plants in our gardens.  Our garden was already one of the oldest California certified organic (CCOF) operations in the state, had been introducing specialty crops to Bay Area markets and restaurants for years, and was widely recognized for its pioneering role in revitalizing the art of seed saving of heirloom varieties long before the term ‘heirloom’ had become a household word.  Over the years, we have been so satisfied to witness the increasing literacy of our customers around the importance of diversity to a healthy organic garden, and are thrilled at the overwhelming success of our Mother Garden Biodiversity Program to now see the local marketplace flooded with diverse, organic, heirloom veggie starts!

Today, with the unpredictability of climate change and the resultant challenges that follow: drought, uncertain food security, soil depletion, and the threat to biodiversity, we are re-committing to the mission of collecting from the extraordinary plant wealth that still exists on the planet and offering plants to the community that we believe will be of value in the face of all these changes. We are moving in the direction of widening our selection of perennial food crops, culinary and medicinal herbs, and moving away from offering as many annual veggie starts seasonally at Plant Sale events. We will continue to offer our “signature” annuals that you can’t find anywhere else, but will be increasingly focused on an ever more diverse collection of perennial plants that we believe are of cultural, historic and culinary significance, are drought tolerant, or have value in enhancing habitat or attracting beneficial pollinators.

Why do we love perennials?  Perennials are often hardier and more drought and pest tolerant due their woodier, resinous stems and extensive root systems that continue deepening in search of water and nutrients year after year. Permanent roots encourage the growth of soil microbes and prevent the kind of erosion and carbon depletion that frequently tilled soil is vulnerable to between annual crops. They need less fuss, less water, less fertilizer and less fossil fuel – what’s not to love? Read about more benefits of perennial plants in the garden and how perennial agriculture and other “Carbon Farming” practices can help mitigate climate change.

In 2018, the OAEC Nursery will be open three days a week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – April through October.  We release new varieties every week, so stop by throughout the season to check out the latest arrivals.  Tours of the Mother Garden will be offered every 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 1 to 2:30pm offering the public a chance to see mature examples of the plants we sell thriving in place (Note: The gardens are otherwise closed to drop-in visitors.) Our special “Friends of the Nursery” Preview will be April 1st, 10am-5pm, where members who donate $50 or more annually can get 20% off throughout the season and first pick at the best plants. You can become a member of the Friends of the Nursery program at the door of this event. The nursery will open to the general public starting on Friday April 6th.

And while our business model is changing slightly, we can assure you that we will continue to offer beautiful, vibrant, high-quality plants that have been loved and cared for from the day that they germinate.  With your continued support and patronage, the OAEC Nursery will continue to lead on the cutting edge of climate-wise, biodiverse, organic gardening in the North Bay area for years to come.