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Ecology and Art Grow Real Culture

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” - Gary Snyder

The Human Nature Center is a mobile Ecology Arts Shop based in Ventura, California. We share hands-on ecology skills at our events and workshops, using the arts as educational tools for connection to Nature.

Our name comes from our belief that Humans are Nature, so when we nurture nature we’re also taking care of ourselves. The Human Nature Center exists to help people of all ages reconnect with the basic cycles of life and to re-infuse our daily living with deeper meaning as tenders of life on earth. We activate gardens and outdoor spaces of all kinds as open-air labs for programs and events such as: our Kids’ Garden Lab, Eco Basics D.I.Y. Homesteading Series, and Garden Tykes for families with young children.

Every experience is unique, and we would love to work with you on a special project or event.

The Human Nature Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) company based on the Central Coast of California in Ventura County.




Our workshops are for everyone. We teach practical eco skills and use the arts as educational tools for connection to the natural world. 

As a mobile Eco Arts shop, we are excited to pop-up in local gardens, farms and classrooms, bringing hands-on ecology experiences to all!


For most of human history, people have made everything we need from the plants, animals, and minerals we’ve found around them. These skill are perhaps more relevant than ever for the health of our bodies and ecosystems. This hands-on workshop series introduces students to a series of useful urban homesteading skills that they can take with them through life. Projects may include natural dyeing, drying and preserving herbs, sewing, weaving, printing and more. Ages 7-11.

Class student minimum is 6, and the max is 12.
Cost: $315 for 16-week session

Homeschool families: We are proud to be official vendors for Inspire and Sage Oak Charter Schools. Click here to register with charter funds through one of these schools.


*Full Morning Drop-Off*

Kids have the chance to do what they need most to do- tinker and get in the timeless space. In this full-morning drop-off enrichment workshop, we provide a variety of recycled materials along with the guidance to help kids build their dreams. With a focus on eco-friendly materials and upcycling, we encourage kids to use their imaginations and creative problem-solving abilities to make fresh art, toys, tools, and almost anything they can come up with. Ages 5-11.

Cost: $600 for 16-week session. This is a FULL MORNING PROGRAM.
Class student minimum is 10, and the max is 18.

Homeschool families: We are proud to be official vendors for Inspire and Sage Oak Charter Schools. Click here to register with charter funds through one of these schools.


The garden is a school of life. Learn the practical basics of growing and running a garden in the setting of a working organic farm. Over the season, your child will grow new skills including planting, harvesting, transplanting, seed saving, composting, design, and more. Ages 5-11 years old.

Cost: $285 for 16-week session
Class student minimum is 6, and the max is 12.

Homeschool families: We are proud to be official vendors for Inspire and Sage Oak Charter Schools. Click here to register with charter funds through one of these schools.


garden lab free promo CLASS

Are you a new family curious to see if Garden Lab is a fit for you? Join us on Friday, August 2 @ 10 am for a free PROMO class with our instructors!


Families, nourish your toddlers’ developing senses together outdoors. Together we enjoy the rhythms of garden life, tell stories, taste fresh seasonal produce, and try our hands at natural crafts to take home.


Transform your home into an oasis and gathering center. This series is geared for you to build a practical toolkit of D.I.Y. urban homesteading skills such as: container gardening, soil building, fermentation, natural dyeing, weaving, canning and much more. For all ages.


Our hands-on workshops can be taught as a one-time event or unfold into a seasonal session. We’d love to bring any of these themes to your campus or home. We are proud to be an official vendor for Inspire and Sage Oak Charter Schools.

If there’s something you don’t see or if you’d like us to host a private workshop for you, drop us a line at



Permaculture Landscape Design Tools For All Ages

With just a few basic tools, anyone can transform their empty space into a thriving ecosystem. Students learn to observe and use a compass to orient themselves in their space. Together, we re-imagine places as oases that grow healthy food, provide beautiful shelter, turn waste into nutrients, and harvest the bounty of water and energy from the rain and sun.

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Organic Gardening Basics For Everyone

Growing your own organic garden is delicious, fun, simple and beautiful. The best thing is you can grow your own food pretty much anywhere you've got access to sunlight, and you don't need much room! Learn the basics of soil prep, container choices, seasonal planting, companion planting, care and maintenance for even the tiniest of spaces.



Seed Saving & Biodiversity

For over 10,000 years, neighbors have saved and traded seeds. Participate in the ancient tradition of seed saving and learn to cultivate biodiversity in your own backyard. Students explore, harvest, and store different seeds, taste seasonal heirloom produce, and make their own veggie seed bombs. Enter the world of beauty and flavor in fruits and vegetables that grow best in our bioregion and support a resilient food system.



A Workshop on Our World of Water 

In this workshop, students learn about their role in their watersheds and learn hands-on how swapping in some new simple choices add up to big change. Students learn to prepare healthy snacks with local organic produce, create upcycled gear they'll want to teach their friends, and have the option to build water-light and waste-free lunch kits to take home. 



An Introduction to Food Preservation & fermentation

People around the world have been using beneficial bacteria to naturally preserve their garden abundance for thousands of years. Lacto-fermented, or cultured, foods such as vegetable pickles, yogurt, and sourdough bread are healthy and improve digestion. In this workshop practice a bit of kitchen chemistry and continue the eco-friendly tradition of food preservation by making homemade pickles and more. 



A Composting and Soil Health Workshop

Healthy soil is key to growing food and maintaining a healthy climate. Today the job of making healthy soil isn’t just for the worms, it starts at home with us. Students will explore soil biology firsthand and work together to construct a compost system. They'll also have the opportunity to take home their own convenient kitchen composting bin complete with live worms.



A Natural Dye & Earth Pigment Workshop

For most of our history on the planet, people have made color from the plants, animals, and minerals they found around them. This skill is perhaps more relevant than ever, with the textile industry being one of the biggest water polluters. In this workshop, students create a rainbow of color that is healthier for the water, for people, and for our ecosystems. Students explore the history of using natural pigments and materials starting in prehistoric times. They will forage, process, and mix their own colors to create beautiful works of art.



Fort Making and Natural Building

Before food and water, comes shelter. Yet there’s much more to shelter than simply staying alive. By using creative design and natural materials, we can use make spaces that thrive. In this workshop, we cover building, design, and orientation basics. Students engineer and build their own forts to withstand the elements. They may also mix adobe to build model houses that give back to their landscapes with beauty and healthy ingredients.




Meg Hiesinger Handler, Ph.D. is an ecological designer, educator, and artist. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley, and a doctorate from the program in the History and Anthropology of Science and Technology (HASTS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With over 20 years creating unique hands-on ecological experiences for all ages, her work and interests center on the healing power of handicraft and regenerative design for landscapes and communities. 

Her recent work includes six years in leadership at The Ecology Center in Orange County, where she co-created the Grow Your Own! program and led a network of over 100 school and community gardens. Handler has served as a faculty member at Cal State Fullerton and Saddleback Community College. She has also created holistic hands-on ecology and garden experiences for schools and organizations.

Inspirations include: The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, CA, proving good design is a great vehicle for ecology; Martín Prechtel, who helped her articulate the power of gardening and making to regenerate the human soul; Corita Kent, artist and visionary educator; Architect Mark Lakeman of Cityscape, whose pioneering work shows we can bring back the human element to public spaces and transform them into community centers; Jon Young and Joseph Cornell who have unlocked key patterns in helping people of all ages re-connect to nature.



Here are some highlights from our projects including design work, events, consulting, and collaborations. If you see something you like, we'd love to help you create it.  

full circle garden (IN-PROGRESS), los angeles 2018


We created this design for a private community garden, called The Full Circle Garden, currently under construction in Los Angeles. The garden is located in an artists' studio warehouse and the vision is to create a space that welcomes neighborhood residents for workshops and events on plant-based cooking and sustainable handicraft.   STAY TUNED FOR UPDATE PHOTOS THIS FALL! 

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Photography by Scott Sporleder (@spoart)

Photography by Scott Sporleder (@spoart)



An experimental 6-part workshop series engaged over 20 women hands-on to design, build, and sew a shelter called "The Dream Tent." The goal was to provide a community space for women to gather, connect, engineer, and creatively problem solve to make a handmade space in the most earth friendly way possible. The end result was magic and we celebrated on Spring Equinox 2016 with a gratitude ceremony in the Dream Tent. 

Photos by:  Tony Wodarck @tonywodarck and Michelle Montgomery

Photos by: Tony Wodarck @tonywodarck and Michelle Montgomery



Kids Workshops

$20 single workshop

$80 per month

$300 per 16-week Semester

Adult Workshops
Start at $25 per person

Corporate Workshops
Start at $500 per workshop 



Landscape and Garden Design
Rate $100 / hour



We are available for consulting on design, programs, and events. Areas of expertise include:

  • Program Management

  • Staff Training

  • Community Building

  • Eco Education and Events

  • Organic Garden Help

  • Family and Kids Programs

Initial Site Visit & Consult: $225

After Site Visit: $100 / hour

Reduced rates are available for bundles of 20+ hours




Interested in scheduling a workshop or event? Do you have a garden or eco-related project you need help with? Contact us:

Name *