Farallones Institute Rural Center Reunion

Farallones barn raising 1978. Photo courtesy of Alison Dykestra

As we look back on 25 years of OAEC’s history, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the people who carefully tended this land prior to our arrival. We are heirs to a rich legacy of stewardship, from the first Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok who tended the oak savanna of the OAEC backcountry, to the Italian and Portuguese homesteaders in the late 1800’s who planted heirloom fruit trees that we continue to enjoy to this day. In more recent history (1974 through 1990) the Farallones Institute, a non-profit sustainability training center with a mission very similar to ours, became an outpost for forward environmental thinkers who laid both the physical and cultural groundwork for what is now the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and Sowing Circle Community.

Original cabins built by Farallones as an experiment in passive solar design, now known as “solar suburbia”.  Photo taken in 1978 by Alison Dykestra.

The Farallones Institute Rural Center, together with its counterpart, the Integral Urban House in Berkeley, was an independent association of scientists, designers, and horticulturists that pioneered a center for teaching and research in appropriate technology and sustainable design here on the land.  The Farallones’ resource conserving systems, solar dwellings, and organic gardens were used extensively as teaching tools in workshops and as a Peace Corps training site.  Many Farallones members went on to author such sustainability classic texts as Integral Urban House, The Toilet Papers (based on the original Farallones composting toilet), Green Construction,  and A training manual in appropriate community technology: an integrated approach for training development facilitators, among many others.

Farallones residents erect a windmill–powered water pump, March 28th, 1979. Ironically, the day the windmill was first powered up was the day of the Three Mile Island nuclear tragedy. Photo courtesy of Alison Dykestra.

Earlier this month, we had the distinct honor and pleasure to host a reunion of the Farallones members, or as they affectionately refer to themselves, the “Faraloonies!”  Some of the highlights of the weekend included slideshows of old photos from the ’70s, hilarious storytelling sessions, and a party with live music in the barn that many of the Farallones members present built with their own hands (see above.)

Organizer Chris Szecsey said, “Assembling the Farallones tribe together to celebrate the special people who made Farallones such an early innovator provided the opportunity for all of us to see what has evolved from the early Farallones foundation; to appreciate the on-going work of OAEC, with its own site development and its important external work in the world, and to discover just how aligned our collective values are.  The gathering enabled Farallones and OAEC to meet and engage with each other and be inspired about what  is possible in the future, as we all continue this journey of offering hope and tangible responses.”


Farallones Reunion – in the late 90’s

Farallones Reunion May 2019


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