Profile: The Ecology Center

Practical Environmental Solutions

The Ecology Center, in San Juan Capistrano, is a non-profit educational center, that engages individuals, families, and students in fun, hands-on activities that teach practical, environmental solutions at the household and community level. The Ecology Center seeks to bring all members of the community together in a solutions-based educational setting to inspire and create a healthy and abundant future for all of Southern California.

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NoteStreams By The Ecology Center

In the Garden with Gabriella Guidry

Gabriella Guidry is a Landscape Designer and Horticulturalist with seven years of professional experience as a private consultant in Southern California. She is also a graduate of The Ecology Center's Eco Apprentice program. Gabriella has helped numerous clients design beautiful outdoor spaces that match their style, personality and architecture of their property, including edible and ornamental gardens, patios, pools, bbq’s, walls, fences, pathways and more. One of Gabriella's specialties is designing organic edible gardens that include vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees and teaching her clients how to care for their organic garden.
Gabriella is also the creator of a blog called Ella's Gardenwhere she shares her best tips and inspiration for a beautiful garden and a healthy life.
We sat down with Gabriella in the garden to learn more about how her background and interests have driven her studies, career and lifestyle.

Category: Gardening

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What On Earth Is Biodynamics?

No cheating, now: without retreating to Google, what is biodynamics, and what, exactly, makes a wine biodynamic? If you're like most of us, half-baked tales of cow horns buried in the fields leap to mind. And while they may for a small part, they're not the whole story.



Category: Wine

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10 Ways Urban Farms Benefit The Community

Understanding the role that urban farmers play in our food systems is key to envisioning what a vibrant, abundant future can look like. By the seemingly simple act of fostering healthy, local food within the community, these farmers are tackling monumental topics like environmental degradation, resource scarcity, public health, poverty, and more.

Category: Lifestyle

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Why Natural Dyes?

What do the clothes we wear have to do with ocean pollution? More than you think...
People have made and used natural dyes using locally available plant, mineral and even insect sources for thousands of years. Today, choosing natural dyes over the chemical alternative is more important than ever.
Here are four compelling reasons to choose natural dyes:

Category: Sustainability

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5 Ways to Drink Sustainably

Fall is here! Thankfully, there are many opportunities to toast the season in a sustainable way!

Category: Craft Beer

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Pasture-Raised vs. Conventional Pork

Before picking up a holiday ham from your grocery store, consider this: conventional meat production is one of the biggest environmental polluters.

Category: Food

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Locally Made: Furniture and Forests

It’s a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees. While wood is a renewable resource, unfortunately, many logging activities in the tropics are done without regard to the forest ecosystem.

Category: Sustainability

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Reviving the Golden State with Heritage Grains

In the parched Tehapachi valley where the yearly precipitation rate is only 4 inches, farmers are investing in growing heritage grains.

Category: Nature

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Locally Made: Fashion & Fibers

Before there’s fashion, there are fibers. But do you know where your fibers come from?

Category: Sustainability

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Fall: Community Building & Planning–Oct.

Rally a team of enthusiastic supporters, and together you will create a garden that lasts for years to come.
In your first year you’ll be challenged to gather a team of enthusiastic supporters who will help you on the journey of creating a school garden that lasts for years to come. There are resources here to help you rally enthusiasm in your school, kick off your garden with events, and organize your garden committee.
At the beginning, you want to be both inclusive and focused. Your garden will attract supporters once critical mass builds, but you will need to jump start interest in the beginning.

Category: For Teachers

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Fall: Community Building & Planning–Sept.

Observation is the first step to starting a successful, sustainable school garden program. Taking stock of your school environment will show you what you already have and where you need to begin.
This month, we help you research ideas for your new garden and document your existing resources. We have also included a lesson that engages your broader school community in the visioning process. Here are some first things to consider:

Category: For Teachers

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Surfers & Scientists Speak On Sustainability

As Hurley Pro kicks off, surfers, surf industry leaders, and scientists gathered at The Ecology Center to discuss sustainability.

Category: Nature

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Why You Should Harvest the Rain

Water conservation begins with a single raindrop, an overlooked but powerful tool for change. Here are a few reasons to harvest the rain.

Category: Nature

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Summer: Maintenance - June

Applications for the 2015-2016 are now available. Download the Application.
During the slower pace and heat of summer, it's natural to plant less in the ground and focus care on what is growing already. This season includes tips for amending soil, creating a maintenance plan, and installing irrigation.

Category: For Teachers

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Summer: Maintenance - July

Applications for the 2015-2016 are now available. Download the Application.
During the slower pace and heat of summer, it's natural to plant less in the ground and focus care on what is growing already. This season includes tips for amending soil, creating a maintenance plan, and installing irrigation.

Category: For Teachers

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Summer: Maintenance - August

Applications for the 2015-2016 are now available. Download the Application.
During the slower pace and heat of summer, it's natural to plant less in the ground and focus care on what is growing already. This season includes tips for amending soil, creating a maintenance plan, and installing irrigation.

Category: For Teachers

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Tomayto, Tomahto: All About Tomatoes

When you picture a tomato, you probably imagine a plump red sphere. It’s uniformly shaped and sized, nestled alongside rows of peaches and stacks of carrots. You probably didn’t know that this tomato is one of a thousand different types, each unique pods of flavor that burst between your teeth.

Category: Gardening

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How to Create a Farm-to-Table Meal

By now, the term “farm to table” is probably a familiar one, with connotations of locally grown produce taking a starring a role in your meal.
But lets dig deeper, asking the questions of how, and more importantly, why?
Gustavo Esteva states it simply as “customs and rituals surrounding the growing, preparation and serving food are at the heart of community and communion”. Coming together for meals is a celebratory way to share ideas, and find inspiration from one another.

Category: Sustainability

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Composting With Worms (Vermicomposting)

Vermicomposting both diverts waste from the landfill and creates nutrient rich compost for your plants. And it's easy to get started!

Category: Gardening

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Water Footprinting Basics

While turning off the faucet, taking shorter showers, and transforming our grass lawns into native habitats can conserve hundreds of gallons per week, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, the water used inside our homes and outside in our landscapes accounts for only 10% of our total consumption, while the remaining 90% remains invisible to the eye. We call this our water footprint, and taking personal responsibility for reducing it is the most effect path towards positive change.

Category: Nature

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How To Graft A Fruit Cocktail Tree

No, this is not a fantasy from the mind of Dr. Seuss, the fruit cocktail tree is real. It’s a single tree that produces a variety of fruits. Both professional and beginner fruit tree growers have been cultivating fruit cocktail trees for years, and you can too! It all starts with the ancient technique of grafting, or, combining the healthy rootstock of one tree with the desirable scion of another tree (we’ll talk more about this later). Using this technique, you can graft multiple fruits onto one tree. Voila! You have a fruit cocktail tree.

Category: Gardening

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Honey Bee Health And How To Help

Pollinators are vital parts of food production and healthy ecosystems. As honeybees face massive decline, here are some of the ways we can all contribute to their revival.
It seems to be fairly common knowledge now that one in every three bites of food you consume was made possible by a pollinator, specifically the Honeybee. Yet with this knowledge that the Honeybee is so important to our food security, there is still a small portion of us who are taking action.

Category: Nature

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Scoop From The Coop

Red the Rooster checks in with some updates from The Ecology Center coop as well as a delicious recipe from Carmen: Spring Quiche!

Category: Nature

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In Defense Of Sustainable Food

We examine what GMOs are and how they affect our global food systems.
In a recent LA Times op-ed article entitled “Chipotle’s Junk Science on GMOs” by Steven Sexton, professor of public policy and economics at Duke, and David Zilberman, professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Berkeley (and consulting scientist for Monsanto), many claims regarding GMOs and their relationship to sustainability and the health of our environment were made. We believe many of these claims to be misrepresenting the truth, and would like to share more information as to why.

Category: Sustainability

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The Eco Way to Keep Garden Pests Away

Insect activity indicates the health of your garden. The bugs and other pests that damage it can be dealt with naturally. Here is how to do it!

Category: Gardening

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Sustainability Begins with a Local Culture

While mass production has afforded us unparalleled convenience, we have come to learn in the last several years that it comes at a great cost. As we experience rising health epidemics, waning resources, and accelerated climate change, it’s becoming clear to all of us that this is not a sustainable system. But what can we as individuals do to change and create a solution that benefits us now and future generations?

Category: Sustainability

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School Gardens Cultivate Healthy Communities

“What are the ingredients for a healthy life?” I ask this question to young children, college students, women’s groups and other audiences I address. I first assumed that people’s expectations would be physical needs like food and shelter. Instead, I learned that primary concerns are things like: friends, family, laughter, and spiritual support. As an educator and ecologist, I am learning from my students that the most important survival ingredient may actually be a sense of community.

Category: Gardening

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10 Reasons To Eat Grass-Fed & Cage-Free Meat

Eating less meat is good for the environment. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on meat all together. There are still ways you can make a difference.
It takes nearly 650 gallons of water to raise, process, and transport meat for just one burger. Factory farms consume fossil fuels, emit more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, and cause 80% of the world’s annual deforestation.
Choosing to support local farms that raise animals in an ethical manner with consideration of the environment is one easy and very positive way to spend your food dollar.

Category: Sustainability

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10 Versatile Herbs To Include In Your Garden

Herbs are a great addition to any home garden. For the minimal space that most of them require, the amount of freshness and flavor they bring to your kitchen is unmatched!
We've put together a list of 10 staple herbs and some ideas on how to use them in the kitchen.

Category: Gardening

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Conscious Consumption: Vote with Your Dollar

The journey of our “stuff” begins long before it arrives in our homes. The final product is a result of many processes: harvesting, processing, dyeing, building, mixing, printing, shipping, etc. At every step of the way is the potential for environmental degradation, pollution, human rights issues, health risks and more.
As disheartening as this may seem, as major contributors to the problem, we are both responsible for and capable of generating a solution. Here are some easy ways to make a difference!

Category: Sustainability

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Sustainable Food = An Abundant Future

Imagine a forest- a lush, thriving, living forest. It’s so alive and so productive you can almost feel it breathe. What creatures call it home, and what grows there? Now, imagine that this forest is filled with food. This food forest grows what you need.
This food forest is like any other forest— a rich, diverse, thriving ecosystem; a resilient habitat in which each species gives more than it takes. Yet there is a fundamental difference: a food forest sustains itself and provides for others.

Category: Sustainability

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6 Proven Reasons to Have a Native Garden

A native garden drastically reduces your water use, waste production and maintenance hours. It improves biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health.
It may seem that an abundant and biodiverse native garden is a lot of hard work and requires a high amount of investment to create and maintain. The reality is happily different.

Category: Sustainability

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