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.
No drop-ins, please. To maintain our retreat center atmosphere, OAEC is not open for drop-in visitors unless for business purposes, such as paying for a course or event registration.
Residential participant information below.
What to expect when coming for courses, trainings or retreats.
Wifi: Every OAEC building and outdoor meeting area has unrestricted wifi.
Toiletries: To protect our greywater reuse systems, we ask that you only use the biodegradable shampoo, conditioner and soap that we provide in our guest bathrooms and community bathhouse, and leave other products at home.
Sleeping: OAEC has six Guest Houses: Garden View, Fern Rock, The Studio including The Seed Loft, 2 Yurts, and Bamboo. See photos and more detailed information about our guest houses on our Visual Tour page. Each Guest House has its own shared bathroom with toilets and showers. By making prior arrangements, you are also welcome to camp in our 70-acre Wildlands Preserve during the dry season. Please note that there is no discount for camping or sleeping off-site.
Camping: Please let us know in advance if you plan to camp. Campers need to bring their own tent and sleeping bag. The camping area is in located in our Wildlands Preserve, a 15-minute walk from the main conference area.
Showers: You may shower in our guest housing bathrooms or the community bathhouse (private showers).
Wildlife: There are lots of raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes, and wood rats around the buildings at night. Please do not leave any food in the yurts or outside the guest housing. Keep the doors closed to all buildings.
Please bring the following:
The Center has many beautiful areas for strolling, hiking, and quiet meditation, including our gardens and 70 acres of wildlands in the backcountry. However, please stay on the paths, and refrain from picking anything, since many of the plants in the garden are being propagated for seed.
When exploring our wildlands, pack out all trash and do not disturb the wildlife. When hiking outside of the Core Area, watch for poison oak – there is a lot of it around! If you’re not sure what it looks like, ask a staff person.
Latch the Fence: The Core Area of the Center (about 10 of the 80 acres) is surrounded by a deer fence. There are several gates that you may pass through on foot. Please be sure that the deer fence gates are closed and latched at all times.
Ticks: Be aware of ticks in spring, summer, and fall (May through July is peak tick season). There are several kinds of ticks in our area. Lyme disease can be transmitted by the Western Black Legged Tick. Check your skin and clothes after walking in tall grass or wooded areas. More information is available in the Center office.
Our professional chefs prepare delicious and plentiful vegetarian meals for our guests using fresh, organic produce from our gardens and local farms.
Specific Dietary Needs: With advance notice, we can accommodate vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. However, we cannot accommodate the many other individual food preferences. Those with food allergies should notify us immediately so that we may accommodate and plan meals accordingly.
Meal times: Meals are generally served at the following times – breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 12:30, dinner at 6:30. Please see your course or retreat schedule for exact times. For lunch and dinner, a bell rings 2 times 15 minutes before the meal is served, and 3 times when the meal is ready.
Drinks: We do not serve alcohol with our meals, but you are welcome to bring it. Beer and wine can be purchased at the local markets in Occidental. We provide tea and coffee in the meeting room kitchenette. Feel free to bring extra drinks and snacks.
Hot Tub Use: You can use the hot tub (part of the community bathhouse/sauna area) anytime. Please shower before getting in the tub.
Sauna Use: If you have a group of folks who want to take an evening sauna, please tell the instructor or a staff person before dinner so we can stoke it up (it takes about an hour to prepare).
Pond Use: We have a beautiful backcountry pond. Swim at your own risk.
Shoes Off: Please take your shoes off before going into the kitchen, dining room, meeting room, yurt dorms, or office.
Fragrances: Please do not wear colognes or perfumes during your stay.
Pets: No pets please! Because of the sensitive environment, diverse wildlife and native poison oak, we have a no-pet policy. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we accommodate leashed dogs who meet the ADA definition of a service dog. Please try to let our office know in advance of your visit, so that we can make accommodations.
Restricted Areas: There are many private residences at the Center. Please do not venture into these buildings or surrounding areas unescorted:
Parking: Guests may off-load gear and passengers in the lower parking lot, but we ask that you park in the upper parking lot for the rest of the stay (unless your stay is 3 hours or less).
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property except at the picnic table across the road from the barn. We are very serious about this due to fire danger. Please properly dispose of your extinguished butts.
Phone Use: Guests with Verizon cell phone service can get reception onsite. OAEC’s Meeting Room has two cordless phones that can be used to make free domestic calls. You may use cell phones for audible conversations on the meeting room deck, in the meeting room (not during class), in the smoking area by the barn or uphill of the deer fence by the barn, and in the upper parking lot by the OAEC Nursery. To maintain a retreat-like atmosphere, mobile device conversations are not allowed in the North or South Gardens, at the pond or at the Dining Room/Kitchen.
Contact Number: You can leave your course coordinator’s or point person’s OAEC phone extension for your family for emergencies. The coordinator will check for messages once or twice a day.
In Case of Emergency: Use the phone in the meeting room – hit “9” to get an outside line. If there is a fire or if you are alone and need help, ring the dinner gong hanging from the oak in front of the kitchen repeatedly until someone comes to help (the bell can be heard all over the property).
Quiet Hours: After 10:00 pm, we ask all guests to please not make loud noise in the meeting room, yurts, or guest rooms. Acoustic music is OK in the meeting room and dining room after 10:00 pm.
Meeting Room Kitchenette: You can make tea or coffee here. Please clean up after yourself.
Dish Migration: You wouldn’t believe where glasses and dishes end up during a large workshop here! If you take something out of a building, bring it back to that building.
Library: The meeting room has lots of books – these are the private books of the residents. Feel free to read them, as long as you return them to where you found them.
Wear sturdy shoes.
The land is hilly and there are no paved paths.
Park in the Upper Parking Lot.
From the town of Occidental, the Upper Lot is the second OAEC driveway on your right. Use the first driveway to the Core Area only when dropping off passengers and luggage.
No dogs or other pets.
If you bring a dog, please keep it in your car.
Questions? Call the OAEC Office at (707) 874 – 1557 x 101