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.
Riparian corridors, habitat ponds and seasonal wetlands offer habitat for various species of willow, elderberry, and calypso orchids that carpet the streambanks, and tule and cattail line the edges of ponds and wetlands. We use several techniques to reduce erosion and creek siltation, trap sediment, and slow down water to enhance groundwater recharge. Our ponds provide year-round agricultural irrigation, habitat for aquatic plants and wildlife, and act as reservoirs for stormwater management, fire protection and recreation.
Coastal prairies are some of the most degraded ecosystems in California, and also the most biodiverse grasslands of North America. The acres of coastal prairie at OAEC comprise native perennial bunchgrasses and wildflowers including indigenous food sources such as yampah, bluedicks, calochortus lily, and pepper grass; nonnative grasses and forbes are also in the mix. Coastal prairie is known to be “disturbance dependent,” historically reliant on a combination of fire and grazing by native herbivores such as deer and elk. We utilize a combination of mowing, grazing of goats, and prescribed burning to mimic these disturbances.
Islands of thick chaparral dot the hillsides, offering crucial habitat – forage, cover, nesting sites - for many bird species such as wrentit and bushtit. The tart and tasty red berries of manzanita dot the hillside in the autumn, Coyotebush displays bursts of white and yellow winter flowers abuzz with native insects, and poison oak berries provide much-needed late fall forage.
Mixed hardwood, comprised mostly of oak woodlands, is the most diverse ecosystem in California. This ecosystem abounds with life, from the ever industrious woodrat to the edge-dwelling bluebird. Coast Live Oaks are interspersed with California bay laurel and hazel, offering delicious edible nuts in the fall. Relics of white oaks with California fescue understory are tucked away among the edges, and many creatures great and small feast on the fall acorn crop. Traditionally managed with fire, fast-growing Douglas Fir seedlings invade and shade out the hardwood, and we work to mimic the effects of an intact fire regime to maintain the open, sunny mosaic of the woodlands.
Second-growth redwoods and towering Douglas Firs mix together in the ravines and lower portions of the Preserve, providing crucial habitat for endangered species such as the Sonoma Tree Vole and Spotted Owl, who have both made a home at OAEC in recent years. A century of fire suppression has led to a dramatic increase in the density of OAEC’s forests, and tanoak - once a dominant species among the redwoods of the Preserve - has been hit hard by Sudden Oak Death.