From our beginnings as a small youth program in 2004, to an internationally recognized nonprofit and community in 2017, we have served thousands of youth and adults through educational courses, internships, rites of passage, service learning, and community building programs. Located in Southern California, we draw students from our region as well as from around the world to learn from our educational site—from South India, where international development workers are organizing farms for children and adults orphaned with disabilities, to Oakland, where urban gardeners employ formerly incarcerated youth to use regenerative design in cityscapes. The places, the people, and the stories are diverse and inspiring.

Our ongoing publicly offered programs consist of two Permaculture Design Certifications (including one for international development leaders), courses in land and watershed restoration, natural building, nature-based primitive skills, youth leadership (ecological and social justice oriented), and youth empowerment events in the local Cuyama Valley. Additionally, Quail Springs hosts a variety of private groups and schools – from elementary and high schools, to colleges and universities from locally and around the United States – to other nature connection, tracking, and youth-oriented organizations holding their own programming. In 2016, over 800 students and visitors passed through Quail Springs through our multiple program offerings. Quail Springs provides generous scholarships to ensure the inclusion, participation, and leadership of underrepresented voices. Our constituencies receive many unique and practical benefits, including: classroom and hands-on experience working with developing food systems; regenerative living design; personal, family, community and land stewardship; discovering, and nurturing their inherent gifts; and direct vocational training and experience.

Our youth programs are holistic training programs that weave science, economics, nature awareness, and social dynamics. The outcomes are youth empowerment and youth-led social change. Skills gained equip participants with the wisdom to enhance personal, ecological and community health. Quail Springs’ staff emphasize experiential and outdoor learning. Through farm immersion and nature connection, students observe and practice all aspects of food systems, for instance from tending and gathering fodder for dairy goats to preparing milk for value-added products. They may also learn other forms of food preservation, from fermentation to dehydration, and, of course, how to prepare delicious, nutritious farm-fresh gourmet meals. Lessons focus on learning about life cycles, the food chain, and the importance of the millions of microorganisms that support healthy systems.

Students also gain familiarity with the wild plants, animals, birds and landscape of our unique desert canyon through guided tours with knowledgeable staff. Stories are offered about the history of this land and practices to help tend the wild, while supporting students to connect with the edible and medicinal plants as well as crafting materials that grow here. Staff utilize games and activities that empower, inspire, challenge and provide the opportunity to engage more deeply with themselves and the group. Together, we build unforgettable relationships, and literally, a new earthen bench or animal structure.

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Our focus on both ecological and cultural restoration is rooted in our mission to steward the land on which we reside for future generations, and to create healthy culture. With permaculture as a guide, Quail Springs’ staff aim to move beyond sustainable to regenerative. In a country experiencing drastic ecological and cultural degradation, we cannot accept sustainability – continuation of the status quo. If we learn to be stewards of our land, and to live together, we can begin to regenerate our ecologies.

At Quail Springs, our team of stewards is regenerating a degraded high-desert canyon and spring. Significant attention, through fluvial geomorphology, has been given to regenerating the natural spring water which was effectively dry when the non-profit acquired the land. Today the spring is thriving, supporting a productive riparian zone as well as water for the farm. The team also focuses on restoration of the natural habitat to attract wildlife and restore balance in the ecosystem. We do this through attention to and tending of culturally important and appropriate native species, and agroforestry.

Our cultural restoration is expressed through our Wild Series courses, which offer in-depth education in earth-based skills and crafts and ancient cultural practices. We believe that learning to work with the hands is one of the ways to share and practice the beautiful legacies of traditional ecological knowledge that are our global heritage. Quail Springs culture is also evident in the rich fabric of our community and staff who live, breathe, and share their diverse musical talents, crafts (felting, carving, weaving, dyeing), their passion for creating exquisite, farm-fresh, unique meals, and the practice of gratitude.

QS has also significantly progressed building codes for structures made from natural materials. Located in a California county that has limited codes for building with non-toxic materials, QS’ co-founders invested years of energy working with building inspectors. This culminated in the county building department partnering with QS to create a “deep green alternative” to the toxic building practices of our day. Today QS is internationally recognized as being on the leading edge of regenerative building practices, and is home to the only legal cob structure in Southern California.

Permaculture is a design science utilizing an innovative systems-approach to consciously design landscapes, human settlements and smallholder farming systems that integrate functional diversity and biological fertility by mimicking natural eco-systems. Diverse and fertile systems act resilient in the face of shocks. The protractive and thoughtful nature of Permaculture encourages using the outputs of one system as the inputs to another and strongly emphasizes an iterative mechanism for feedback and progressive design. In Permaculture, sustainability is achieved when a system produces or stores more energy than is required to keep it going, notably banking on today’s sunlight, not on fossil fuels. Our permaculture courses feature an emphasis on hands-on projects including a practical design project that is site and context specific and integrates all of the different elements of a thorough permaculture design.

Our learning center is a thriving example of permaculture in action. Even in the sweltering heat of the high desert Cuyama summer, appropriate technologies such as shade and evaporative cooling offer very important lessons while keeping our community and students comfortable. Students currently learn in an earthen-floored yurt in the growing shade of elm and poplar, and feast on food right off the farm in another sizeable yurt fed by cob and earthen barrel ovens. Many visitors are shocked to learn the entire site is off grid. Visitors are also strongly impacted and inspired by the ecologically equitable research buildings on the site that are made mostly with materials extracted from the site.

Building on eight years of food production, Quail Springs is recognized as a leader in arid land food production education. Being at least an hour drive from a sizeable grocery store, and living in a food desert (that exports fresh vegetables across the country), producing food for the center has been fundamental to our mission and goals. Our staff is very proud that our farm produces all of the dairy products (except butter) and meat required for the year-round teaching staff and students throughout the year, as well as a growing percentage of the fruit and vegetable needs. This is no small feat; the on-site population ranges from 12-60 people, in a rain shadow that gets only 8” of rain annually, and in soils that were once substantially degraded, while relying on a limited amount of gravity-fed water from our spring. All of this food grows within integrated systems that are becoming successful examples of food production in extreme environments.

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Permaculture program

We do this work because we are passionate about restoring our planet and we believe that these times offer us a call to action to live regeneratively – not just sustainably. As climate change and environmental conservation move to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness (the world’s), growing numbers of people are looking for ways that they can make a positive impact.  Quail Springs is an important hub for people to share and discover ways of deepening their understanding of regenerative living. Our various offerings train individuals to be leaders in developing agro-ecosystems and communities that are culturally vibrant, ecologically equitable, natural capital rich, and steeped in social justice. Many of our course participants have realized that sustainability starts at home with the necessity of deepening their connection with their families, communities, and the land. We recognize and acknowledge the different paths each person takes toward living regeneratively. Quail Springs attracts people who choose to more deeply examine their role in the health of their communities and the planet. We receive overwhelming confirmation from participants that Quail Springs offers an immersive experience that is transformative.

Here is what some have to say:

“One of the most valuable things I learned was the importance of human involvement in creating solutions to heal the world.”2015 course participant
“After the course I see everything around me differently! I see patterns in the land and in my community. So much has changed in the way that I think about myself and where I want to take my journey.”2015 course participant
“Thank you Quail Springs for the beautiful location & support (and food!) throughout this course. I met truly marvelous, wonderful people and I feel supported and am supporting these allies in creating the vision, consciousness, and actions for a bright, whole, connected, and regenerative world.”2016 course participant
“I had so many moments while sitting in the classroom or out in the breeze, surrounded by a group of people committed to social justice, nature, and personal transformation, where I found myself witnessing the power of collaboration and community learning as we all exchanged stories and asked each other the tough questions. I heard again and again why there is a reason to have hope for a brighter future. I am so very grateful this course was held and can’t thank Quail Springs, the facilitators, and my fellow students enough!”2016 course participant

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PROGRAMS

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for one of our courses.

Programs

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GALLERY

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and see us in action.

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DONATE

Donate to our Capital Campaign or donate resources to our farm.

Donate

PROGRAMS

See our Program Calendar and register for one of our courses.

Programs

PARTNERS

See our partnerships or become one of our partners.

Partners

NEWSLETTER

Stay updated and sign
up for our newsletter.

Newsletter

CONTACT US

Have a question?
Send us a message.

Contact Us

GALLERY

Visit our photo gallery
and see us in action.

Gallery