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.
Permaculture is rooted in three ethics and realized through a series of design principles that are applied to ecological and social system design. Design solutions must be applied in both the social-cultural and biological-chemical-physical realms for success in either. Human “ego-systems” are often the most impenetrable features to work with and are in need of restoration (through effective facilitation and loving kindness) to allow for the possibility of ecosystem regeneration. We recognize and nurture the inextricable links between biological and cultural structures, from which truly resilient design solutions arise.
Design principles build upon permaculture ethics to inform and guide actions. These are generalized principles derived from the observation of natural patterns and the study of systems. Principles are meant to be conceptually universal, but the application of each will be specific to place, people, time, and context.
There are four key permaculture principles used in the design process:
In addition to these five key design principles, permaculture design employs many other guiding principles such as:
Work from patterns to details – Work from a large scale down to a smaller scale while keeping in mind the larger scale at all times.
In the problem lies the solution – Often hidden in the problem is the solution we desire. Problems challenge our creativity and resourcefulness to devise workable, sustainable, and just solutions.
Everything is connected – Everything has an effect on its environment on many scales. Every element in a design has an impact on other elements.
Succession of evolution – Natural design follows a pattern of evolution based on dynamic equilibrium that optimizes stability and resiliency over time. Our own designs can follow suit and take advantage of change over time.
Optimize yields – Increased cycling can increase yields. One gallon of water used to wash veggies, then wash hands, then water an orchard gives us the equivalent of three gallons of use.
Information as a resource – Information is a critical potential resource; never underestimate the importance of thorough site assessment and community asset mapping.
Start small then expand – Implement in phases, being aware of scale and scope; remember that every action causes a reaction. Build in time for feedback.
It depends – Although principles can guide design, each solution must be specifically tailored to be appropriate for each given site in line with cultural and ecological uniqueness.
The permaculture design process consists of several phases: assessment, visioning, designing, and implementation. The phases are based on natural systems thinking, ethical intention, and protracted and thoughtful observation.
The design process is a reiterative process that may move linearly through design steps or may circle from one to another and back again. Depending on the information that arises in each phase, steps may be revisited and the design revised.