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.
New in 2017: Now open every weekend April-October, Saturdays & Sundays from 10am-5pm! Our nursery specializes in open-pollinated perennials including edible landscaping plants, rare and endangered food crops, drought tolerant ornamentals and habitat plants. Join us for our three special Plant Sale Events focused on annual plants for starting your seasonal vegetable gardens.
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.
Defend and build upon “organics” for an ecologically restorative agriculture and economy.
Non-synthetic chemical agriculture has been practiced in traditional cultures all over the world for millennia. Only for a century, so-called “conventional agriculture” – reliant on synthetic biocides and petroleum-based fertilizers – has produced a lot of food and grown global population, but has destroyed once-fertile soils on hundreds of millions of acres, polluted most of the world’s freshwater and fisheries, and is destroying the climate. Sir Albert Howard studied and documented traditional, non-chemical agricultural practices in India for decades in the early 1900s, coming to deeply understand how such “organic” systems benefited soil, crops, water and community health. In 1940 Howard wrote the classic organic farming text An Agricultural Testament, which along with the works of Eve Balfour, Rudolf Steiner, and J. I. Rodale and many others, inspired the development of the early organic farming and natural foods movements in Europe and the US.
With the founding of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) in 1973, Oregon Tilth in 1974, and many other regional certifiers, a common definition of “organic” began to take hold in culture, the market and law, and the modern organic farming and organic products movements took off. Since the 1970’s we have seen a steady rise of public support for organic produce and for products certified as being made from organic ingredients, and we’ve seen increasing support for a more whole-systems ecological approach to farming and land management. The organic movement has had great success in educating the public and farmers to the extraordinary benefits that organic farming methods bring to soil, water, farm family and farm labor health, biodiversity, climate (through CO2 sequestration), food quality, and consumer and community health.
Our organic farming, foods and products movements have also had to constantly play struggle against the chemical corporations who have billions of dollars in profits at stake in selling – and making farmers become dependent upon – synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers and corporate-owned genetically engineered seed worldwide. In 2000, the USDA finished establishing the National Organic Program to define and regulate “organic” nationwide for farm and consumer products. Since then the organics movement has had to be ever vigilant in protecting what the US public has come to expect from a food or product being labeled as “organic” – including opposing aggressive chemical industry attempts to have GMO foods, crops grown with sewage sludge, and irradiated foods be considered “organic”.
Since our founding in 1994, OAEC has been deeply engaged practicing and demonstrating organic horticulture and teaching organic gardening and wildlands management. We have focused our organizing and policy work on building organizations and networks to advocate for stronger state and federal organic standards, to help farmers and ranchers transition from chemical-intensive methods to organic and other ecologically restorative practices, and to oppose attempts by the chemical industry to degrade the legal definition of organic. We help build coalitions, and mobilize our own members, to expose efforts by some product manufactures and retail brands to mislead the public through labeling products “organic” when they are not, in fact, certified organic, as well as scam labeling programs declaring non-organic food and consumer products to be “natural”, “sustainable” or other terms that have no legal definition and thus offer the consumer no actual information on their production practices.
Some of the work we have done at OAEC to defend organics and build ecologically restorative food and agriculture production systems include:
OAEC works with partner organizations at the local, state, national and international levels to defend and strengthen federal and regional organic standards, and to expose false organic claims (in farm and ranching operations as well as at the point of sale of fresh produce and value-added products). We support and collaborate with organizations and networks working specifically in one or more issue areas that advance organic and ecologically restorative agriculture and production processes. Please take a look at the good work of some of our partner organizations. Please join their campaigns, and support them with contributions.