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.
Building community resilience – the ability of whole communities to thrive in place over time with dignity, justice, and ecological sanity – is OAEC’s ultimate goal.
Community resilience is the ability of human groups to adapt to changing conditions over time by developing social and physical infrastructure that can withstand external shocks. With Resilient Community Design (RCD) – OAEC’s adaptation of the permaculture design process – we enable groups to better address their cultural, ecological and economic needs by deepening ecological understanding of their place, strengthening practices of self-governance through collaborative decision-making, and increasing social cohesion and personal welfare through collective work. The three pillars of RCD – ecoliteracy, self-governance, and social/personal wellbeing – enhance a community’s long-term resilience capacity.
Resilience is the capacity to lead a continued existence by incorporating change (Holling, 1986) and social resilience is the ability of human communities to withstand external shocks to their social infrastructure. Folke et al. (2003) identify four critical factors for social-ecological (or biocultural) resilience:
Cultural diversity and biodiversity are interlinked in a concept known as bio-cultural diversity. Bio-cultural diversity refers to, “the interactions between biodiversity and diversity within a cultural context, as situated in the landscape” (Belay, 2012). It is at the landscape level that cultural and religious practices, as well as social and cultural institutions, established in a specific cultural context, play an important role in the perception of the value, use and management of biodiversity (UNESCO, 2007). Bio-cultural diversity at the local level can also be understood as, “the causal relationship between ecosystem, species and genetics on the one hand and the richness and ecological knowledge, cultural values and practices, institutions, and language on the other hand” (Maffi, 2010, p. 5).
Resilient Community Design provides a learning platform for communities to work towards greater resilience by recognizing that biological and cultural diversity are linked systems, which is essential for resilience – especially in these times of rapid environmental and social change at the local and global levels.
Resilient Community Design is a facilitated design process formatted into an accessible curriculum used by people from diverse cultures and locations. The curriculum follows a predictable pathway but is flexible in duration of process, frequency of engagements, techniques, languages, literacy, numeracy, numbers of participants and more. Each engagement is tailored to the community to fit their particular needs, desires, issues, and opportunities.
The explicit goal of a design process is for a community to create an ecologically and culturally regenerative site design map that can be implemented overtime.
Additional goals are embedded in the process: