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Faculty 2012

Ruby Blume

IUH Founder & Headmistress

K.Ruby Blume

K.Ruby Blume is an educator, gardener, beekeeper, artist, performer and activist, with 20+ years experience gardening in an urban setting. As a life-long learner, she has studied everything from permaculture to visceral massage and has taught herself cooking, canning and fermentation techniques, as well as how to set tile, install a sink, do electrical wiring, tend a beehive and repair a motorcycle. Ruby holds certificates in permaculture design, massage, somatics and coaching and has studied botany, pollination ecology and native plant ecology at the Tilden Botanic Gardem, the Jepson Herbarium and the Sierra Nevada Field Campus. She has extensive experience in the arts including work with ceramic, mosaic, glass, textile, printmaking, puppetry, collage, assemblage, costume design and photography. She is known for her work as founder and artistic director of the art for justice project, Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, and has performed and exhibited her work throughout the Bay Area and beyond since the mid-80s. The product of three generations of teachers, Ruby's experience as an educator extends back thirty years. She has taught music, art, puppetry, theatre, gardening, beekeeping, canning and more to people ages five to ninety-five. She founded The Institute of Urban Homesteading in 2008 and co-authored the book Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living. Ruby teaches much of the core curricula at IUH.

  Teachers (alphabetical by last name)
Serena Bartlett Laing
Lather 101: Bar & Liquid Soap Making
Serena is the author of many books about West Coast travel and sustainability. In an effort to point out all the best places worth visiting, that are also making a positive impact on their communities, she created the GrassRoutes Guidebook series, which you can find on Amazon. She revels in discovering new, delicious and healthy ways to tread more lightly on the planet and at home she tends a four-season garden, cans, spins yarn, and cooks both food and body products from scratch. She writes on food and sustainability at a number of publications, and you can catch up with her latest discoveries on her blog. Everywhere she travels, whether around the block or across the globe, she collects stories, traditions, techniques, and interesting ingredients.
Maya Blow
Wild Medicine: Natural Remedies
Local Medicine: Tinctures and Teas

Maya Blow is an herbalist and classical homeopath practicing in the East SF Bay Area. She studied herbal medicine at the California School of Herbal Studies and also completed four years of homeopathic medical school at the Institute of Classical Homoeopathy in San Francisco. Besides her passion for holistic and alternative medicine, Maya is an artist, mother of two, aspiring farmer, and avid crafter. She has been studying, practicing, and teaching art for two decades and continues to draw her inspiration from her love of nature. Some of her hobbies are gardening, animal husbandry, foraging for wild food, fermenting and canning, making herbal medicine and dying with plants. She currently runs a handcrafted herbalism CSA from her urban farm in El Sobrante where she lives with her husband and sons, goats, chickens, bees and jersey milk cow.

Molly Bolt

Molly Goulet Bolt
Urban Orchard Care
Winter Fruit Tree Pruning

Molly Goulet Bolt is an ISA certified arborist whose practice focuses on structural and orchard pruning. She has taught the soil and nutrition labs at Merritt College, trained docents at the UC Botanical Garden and managed a local nursery. She is committed to greater local food security through backyard farming, whether it's milking her goats or gardening with her kids.

Josh Caraco
Baking 101: Scones As A Way of Life
Josh Caraco grew up in Berkeley and has had a passion for food and cooking his whole life. He dropped out of college in 2008 after his junior year to pursue his passion for culinary arts. He interned in bay area bakeries and restaurants until he was able to get a job in a Top 100 and then a Michelin starred restaurant. Then he decided that a love of food is not actually the same as a love of professional kitchen work and decided he needed to study farming. This took him to Thailand to study agroecology and local food systems. Josh really likes villages and is grappling with whether or not cities can be more like them. Since coming back he works a part-time job in a non-profit bakery supervising and training “at-risk” folks in the kitchen. This gives him time to do other things and continue being a student of life.
Yasir Cross
Greywater Design: Laundry-to-Landscape
Yasir Cross is a design engineer at work and a farmer at home. He is also builder, crafter, and artist who loves to work with his hands. Yasir has a gift for fixing just about anything and is putting that gift to good use on his 2.5 acre farm in El Sobrante where three quarters of the garden is fed by grey water. He has been studying and keeping bees successfully for several years and is a fervent follower of the natural beekeeping methods of Abbe Warre. A student of the biodynamic farming methodology, Yasir is using, learning, and teaching his experience. Sustainable building, water harvesting, grafting fruit trees, composting, double digging, building soil, and permaculture design are some of his interests. Hobbies also include hiking, drawing, mountain biking, and wrestling.
Kathleen Elliot & The Hillcrest Ranch
Olive Picking & Brining
Kathleen Elliot is the owner of the Hillcrest Ranch, where she produces organic extra-virgin olive oil, brined olives and olive oil soaps. The ranch is historic, part of a huge planting of olive tress dating back to the 19th century and its 6 acres now sits as an island atop Sunol's Pleasanton Ridge Park. Kathleen has a lifelong involvement in animal husbandry and plant sciences. She was a beekeeper for 30 years starting when she worked at the Bee Biology Center while a student of plant sciences at UC Davis. As well as her work on the ranch, Kathleen currently works as horticulturalist and landscape designer at Regan Nursery, where she regularly teaches pruning, edible landscaping and plant propagation. Further teaching experience includes teaching beekeeping, chicken husbandry and dairy goat management, cheese making and cooking to people of all ages through diverse organizations, from 4-H, to senior centers, to the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens.
Lou Grantham
Fleece to Fiber: Spinning
Weaving and in love with the arts since the second grade, Lou has been teaching and supporting herself professionally via the textile arts since the 70's when she began selling her hand spun, naturally dyed yarns and clothing. Lou received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in textiles from San Francisco State. She is the creator and owner of San Francisco Fiber Company, a weaving and spinning shop, gallery, and school. Besides working privately in her shop, Lou is the coordinator for Decorative and Textile program for Walnut Creek's Civic Arts, and she teaches for the Mendocino Arts Center. She is a co-creator of the Oakland Fiber and Textile Festival, supporting free and hands-on textile experience geared towards family and community. In her spare time she moonlights as a landscape artist.
Wakana Kawamura
Home Miso Making

A native of Japan, Wakana Kawamura is an avid practitioner of Japanese fermented food preparation. After getting her nursing degree, Wakana worked as a nurse in a western hospital in Kobe. During that time she realized that there was something missing from western approach of treating symptoms rather causes of illness and started to explore the idea that “food is medicine" using the traditional Japanese diet as her source for inspiration. In 2008, Wakana moved to SF bay area and began to integrate Japanese culture and food preparation into her new life in Berkeley. She taught herself how to “homebrew” a variety of traditional fermented foods including miso, tsukemono, natto, and umeboshi integratingr locally supplied raw materials and ingredients. Wakana is a certified permaculture designer, gardener, wild crafter and herbal medicine maker. She teaches publicly and privately throughout the Bay Area.
David Langsam
DIY Electrical: Know-How & Repair
David Langsam is a professional video engineer, amateur electrician and carpenter, avid gardener and passionate chef who has worked his entire life in the video and film industry. Having done several large scale remodels on his own home as well as being the go to for DIY electrical amongst friends, David has significant experience in new home wiring, home remodeling, electrical upgrades and additions. David exemplifies the DIY householder and has an enthusiastic and practical approach to sharing his knowledge.

grant marcoux

Grant Marcoux
Knife Sharpening

is the owner of the Pilgrim Soul Forge in Alameda, CA. A graduate of the Sir Sandford Fleming College School of Blacksmithing, Grant creates both traditional and modern custom metalwork and cutlery. Grant also teaches courses and seminars in the selection, use and care of agricultural tools and kitchen cutlery; and offers comprehensive courses in blacksmithing, bladesmithing and welded sculpture at his Alameda smithy.

Jeannie McKenizie
Backyard Chickens

Jeannie lives on a half acre homestead in Montclair that was the neighborhood's first chicken farm. She has been gradually reviving the old farmstead which now includes chickens, bees, and goats, an organic garden and many fruit trees. Jeannie is a circus artist, dancer, musician and teacher. She currently teaches music in a few elementary schools and plays with several bands around town. Jeannie has been involved in many aspects of homesteading and she’s excited to share her growing knowledge of and passion for backyard chicken farming.

Chad Mills
DIY Auto: Maintenance & Emergency
Chad Mills, aka The Organic Mechanic is a teacher, auto mechanic, organic farmer, handyman and artist. A licensed teacher with ten years of experience.he has endorsements in Art and Career and Technical Education. In a formal school setting he has taught Studio Art, Woodworking, Metal working, and Automotive Technologies. At the Farm School in MA he devloped and taught the popular class, "Farm Fix It." which included basic electrical, carpentry, plumbing, and mechanical repairs. Chad is an ASE certified automotive technician and currebntly runs his own handyman business.


Jim Montgomery
Urban Goat Dairy

Home Butchering: Fowl

Jim Montgomery is an East Bay native who has been raising livestock in urban settings for 30 years. He started with 26 guinea pigs at age twelve and quickly moved on to rabbits, pigeons and chickens. He started raising livestock to feed his pet Burmese python but he couldn't help feeding eggs and meat to his family as his menagerie grew. The soil in his mother's yard also improved greatly thanks to the animals' contributions. Jim volunteered at the Berkeley Free Clinic from 1981 to 2006.. He has a BA in Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley, which has fueled his interests in Public Health and Animal Husbandry. Since 1992 Jim teaches Math at Maybeck High School -- a small community-based, collectively run school. In 1995 Jim and a close friend purchased a large garden with a modest house attached in Berkeley. In 2001 Green Faerie Farm (as they call their home) acquired two Oberhasli dairy goats to add milk and cheese to the bounty of food coming from the garden. Jim is the lead animal handler while his farm partners Mateo and Roy take the lead with the plants. Jim enjoys teaching both young people and adults and hopes to inspire his community to decrease the distance their food travels to get to their table and to increase their food security by helping them bring more food production under their own control.

Giancarlo Muscardini
Food Forests and Plant Guilds
A Berkeley native. Giancarlo has been studying and practicing Permaculture for 15 years. He began his studies with Doug Bullock and John Valenzuela in Hawaii where he received his Permaculture Design Certificate in1998. Most recently he completed the Ecology Of Leadership course at the Regenerative Design Institute, focusing on personal development and community resilience. Giancarlo's urban farm in West Berkeley is a living example of applied Permaculture and includes a food forest with over 30 edible species, timber bamboo, soil building, plant guilds and an expansive annual garden. Beyond his work as a permaculture designer Giancarlo is a skilled landscaper, craftsman and builder. He feels that a deep cpnnection to the natural world is fundamental to life and health and seeks to use permaculture as a bridge between the wild and cultivated worlds..
mushroom maestros
Mushroom Maestros www.mushroommaestros.comMushroom Cultivation Homestead-Style
Ray Lanier began cultivating mushrooms in the mid 1980's in his hometown Atlanta, GA. He has studied withf Paul Stamet's seminars as well as fervently pursuing mycology as a self taught endeavor. Ray has a passion and a zest for mushroom cultivation that is contagious. He never tires of experimenting in the lab and specializes in cultivating in non-sterile environments.
Patty Lanier is an Oakland native who has spent most of her professional life as a personal trainer and nutritionist. When she met Ray, she took immediately to the notion of mushroom farming and mycology education. Her passion for the mushroom shines when you get her talking about the benefits of eating mushrooms. "They are absolute super foods! People don't eat enough mushrooms. They possess serious healing power, we have yet to reveal all that they are really capable of giving us and the ecosystems of the world." In April of 2010 Patty & Ray started Mushroom Maestros, an off grid urban farm with a mission, they aim to teach as many people as possible how to cultivate mushrooms, so that the amazing fungi can fulfill it's potential in saving the world.
Deepa Preeti Natarajan
Natural Dying With Local Plants
For the past five years, Deepa served as the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden's coordinator of public programs and tours, where she transformed her own love of gardening into a year-round series of events about the many uses of plants - medicinal, culinary, fibers, dyes, and more. As part of her college studies in Anthri\opolgy, Deepa traveled to Eritrea to study traditional plant based medicines and Rajasthan to promote traditional medicine and conservation of medicinal plants. Her yearly travels to her roots in Soutern India have informed and inspired her practices of gardening, food justice, sustainable textiles and natural dyes. She hasrecently returned from 5 months in Chennai, where she taught several workshops on Natural Dyes. Deepa spearheads the Seed to Sew project of the Permacouture Institute, helping local seedbanks tag seeds for fiber and dye plants.
Seth Peterson
All About Dehydration<, Bacon & Pancetta, Sausage, Made With Masa, Knife Skills
Meat 101, The Whole Pig
Seth Peterson's passions are teaching and cooking. As a second generation urban gardener living in the heart of Berkeley, his love of gardening is a natural extension of his love of food, cooking, and eating in community passed on from his mother. His passion for teaching is fueled by fourteen years in Latin America, where he taught English and business. Since returning five years ago he has dedicated himself to working in East Bay restaurants and exploring the local foodshed. He enjoys combining his twin passions and experience to bring real local food to the people,giving them knowledge and skills to prepare it using traditional cooking techniques that are healthy and delicious.
Kitty Sharkey
Container & Raised Bed Gardening
is an urban homesteader, consultant, and educator who believes that “You don’t have to move to change the place you live.” After purchasing a foreclosed home in East Oakland, she began the process of transforming an empty yard into an urban oasis. She has since become a master of small space design and utilization, packing an entire urban farm into her 2,000 square foot back and side yards. Focusing on livestock, Kitty raises goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, quail, and honeybees. She practices raised bed and container gardening with an emphasis on utilizing vertical space and water conservation. Aside from typical homesteading activities like gardening, preserving, cheese making, baking and brewing, Kitty also enjoys fishing and foraging for mushrooms and other wild edibles. With a degree in graphic arts, she has been in print production management for 34 years.
Jillian Steinberger
All About Avocados
Jillian is on the case, always looking for a good story to write about plants, health, and food justice. She writes for Edible East Bay magazine and other publications. She is also a landscaper who brings inspired thinking and Permaculture principles to gardens that are both practical and glorious, , and she worships tree fruits.. With an arts-and-crafts style and a love of rocks and lichens, Jillian specializes in combining native and pollinator plants with kitchen gardens, for the joy of producing fresh food, herbs and flowers. She splits her time between the East Bay and Santa Cruz.
Tanya Stiller
Soup & Salad: Spring Foraging Expedition
Wild Foods: Fall Foraging Expedition

Tanya Stiller
learned to make preserves, fruit leather and wine growing up on a small family farm in Eastern Oregon with her mother. She received her herbalism certificate in 1994 from The Oregon School of Herbal Medicine, ran a tincture and lotion-making company called Pixie Plants and has been teaching herbalism classes in Oregon and the Bay Area for the last 15 years. Tanya is passionate about studying and teaching permaculture, nutrition, and ethnobotany. She works as the Nutrition and Garden Coordinator at Rosa Parks Elementary School and lives at an intentional community house called Brigid Collective in West Berkeley.
Paul Taylor
Biochar for Urban Gardeners
Paul Taylor,
author of The Biochar Revolution: Transforming Agriculture and the Environment, graduated with the University Medal in physics from the University of NSW, received a PhD from University of Colorado, and worked at Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, Oak Ridge National Labs, Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, NASA and MIT. He now lives in both Australia and the US, researching and presenting on biochar and climate change. Paul has presented papers in several international biochar conferences in Australia, US and Brazil and is a presenter for Beyond Zero Emissions, an exciting blueprint to provide 100% Renewable Energy for Australia within 10 years.
Anders Vidstrand

Anders Vidstrand
Propagate! Make More Plants 4 Free
Anders Vidstrand works as Science Technician at the Merritt College Landscape Horticulture Department, where he manages the 7 acres of gardens, the nursery for the biannual Plant Sales, and also helps with class labs. He has been gardening since he could walk, but has been practicing professionally for 5 years. Anders is an Adjunct Instructor in Landscape Horticulture at Merritt College, where he teaches Edible Landscaping. His areas of interest include: heirloom varieties, unusual, rare and native plants, and eventually propagating and growing at least half of the some 20,000 plants known to be edible.

Jeremy Watts
Drip Irrigation: Occupy the Flow!

Jeremy Watts has been studying and practicing ecological and edible horticulture and Permaculture design since 2005. His gardening practice focuses on sustainable methods, such as minimizing required inputs (water, fertilizer, energy) and using local and reused materials. Jeremy has earned the Basic Landscape Horticulture and Permaculture Design certificates from Merritt College. There he studied plant and mushroom propagation, plant pests and diseases, tree pruning, soil science, plant nutrition, arboriculture, low-impact irrigation and urban agroecology. He is also working towards Merritt's Landscape and Parks Maintenance and Nursery Management certificates. In 2013 Jeremy became a certified graywater installer, through the EPA's QWEL program. He has taught at Urban Adamah farm in Berkeley and offers free workshops at Plougshares Nursery in Alameda.