The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s 80-acre site in Sonoma County California serves as a model of sustainability for the greater San Francisco Bay Area and an inspiring meeting place for social changemakers from around the world. Affectionately referred to as the “Mother Garden,” OAEC curates a collection of over three-thousand rare food crop varieties and multiuse plants, and through this open-air classroom of gardens and wildlands, has provided training, inspiration, and support for thousands of individuals and “daughter gardens” since its inception in 1994. OAEC’s diverse suite of interwoven programs—restorative agriculture and heirloom seed saving, watershed health, traditional ecological knowledge, permaculture, community resilience design, democratic self-governance, and multicultural organizing methods, to name a few—combine research, demonstration, education, and policy advocacy to develop community-based strategies and regional scale solutions to the pressing environmental and economic crises of our time. OAEC is well respected in the nonprofit world for its dedication to participatory decision making, so in true collaborative fashion, this book is written with input from many voices including current and former residents, cooks, artists, gardeners, educators, and visionaries.