Director & Senior Designer
David Shaw is a whole systems designer, naturalist, farmer, and educator. His focus is building connections – with ourselves, with each other, and with nature. He directs Santa Cruz Permaculture, a company dedicated to amplifying regenerative solutions through action-learning, intentional community development, and land stewardship. He also coordinates the Right Livelihood College at UCSC, a network for scaling up courageous solutions to the root causes of global problems. David completed the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, and holds a MS in Integrative Eco Social Design from Gaia University. He is a PhD student in the UCSC Environmental Studies program researching successful transnational alternative policy groups and large-scale ecosystem regeneration solutions. David is active in the global World Cafe Community, a group dedicated to hosting inter-generational dialogue on questions that matter. In order to meet the challenges of today, he is creating an urban farm and inter-generational learning center that fosters hands-on farm and wilderness skills, cultural competence, social entrepreneurship, and collective action.
Marketing & Communications Consultant
Leah grew up in the Midwest, spending time in the summer at her grandparents’ farm, shucking sweet corn and making applesauce. An interest in growing food has stayed with her through stints in finance, accounting, photography, marketing, non-profits, and mothering. After moving to the Santa Cruz Mountains, she has eagerly sought out new ways to grow more delicious varieties of all this region can sustain, while building community and learning about indigenous traditions and perspectives. Leah manages a rocking food forest at her home, and also is building capacity both locally and globally through conducting our outreach and communication efforts, leading the LifeLab program at her kids school, and is an instructor in our courses.
Lead Permaculture Instructor & Senior Designer
John Valenzuela is a horticulturist, consultant, and permaculture educator. Living in Hawai’i for 15 years, he studied and practiced tropical permaculture while teaching throughout the Islands to a wide range of people — children, students, professionals, farmers, displaced sugar workers, owners and renters. He has been a lead permaculture design course teacher at the Bullock Family Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington, for 10 years, also having taught in Costa Rica and throughout urban and rural California. His special interests are home gardens, plant propagation, rare fruit, food forests, agroforestry, ethnobotany, and native ecosystems. He is now based in his original home state of California, where he maintains ornamental and edible landscapes and a small nursery, while sharing his passion for plants. John has served as the chairperson for the Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association.
Guides & Learning Partners
Janine Björnson is a natural builder, educator, and consultant who has a specialty in natural paints and plasters. She began her career in natural building in 1996 when she studied with Cob Cottage. Since then, she has taught over 100 workshops in Canada and the United States. Her passion for building with natural materials bloomed out of her love for the earth, in conjunction with her concern for diminishing ecological resources and toxic buildings. Since then, she has devoted the last 2+ decades to immersing herself in the world of natural materials and the knowledge of how we can shape dwellings that are healthy, healing, inspiring, and beautiful. She loves teaching and particularly loves to inspire and teach women how to build, and this is evident in her enthusiastic teaching style. Janine has presented at various Natural Building Colloquia. She has taught the natural building component of Dominican University EcoDwelling program and is the “natural materials” cyber panellist at www.greenhomebuilding.com. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (janinebjornson.com) and artist. She lives and builds in Sebastopol, California.
Terra Phoenix Design, co-author of Practical Permaculture
Dave Boehnlein is principal at Terra Phoenix Design, and co-author of Practical Permaculture, an excellent entry-level permaculture design text. He is also the education director at the Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead on Orcas Island where he lived for seven years. He offers Permaculture Design Courses through Bastyr University’s Holistic Landscape Design Certificate Program and Alderleaf Wilderness College’s Wilderness Certification Program. Dave is a member of both the Cascadia Permaculture Institute and the Permaculture Institute of North America. He holds a diploma in Permaculture Education and seeks to mainstream permaculture design with integrity. Dave is passionate about plants, especially weird but useful ones. Ultimately, Dave just wants to make the world a better place and eat really good fruit while doing it.
Cass is an earth steward, folk herbalist, forager, and holistic chef with a deeply rooted passion for plants and soil. She has been practicing and teaching regenerative agriculture throughout California for over a decade, most recently directing the Regenerative Ag program and no-till farm at The Mushroom Farm in Pescadero. Cass’s approach to horticulture begins with the microscopic communities that support all life, and expands out to the greater environmental impacts of how we nourish ourselves. She is dedicated to growing vibrant food and medicines in ways that increase ecological health and biodiversity. Cass is an avid homesteader and loves to bake, tan hides, and wander in forests.
Della Z Duncan is a Work that Reconnects Facilitator and Renegade Economist who supports individuals working to better align their values with their work as a Right Livelihood Coach and hosts the Upstream Podcast, challenging mainstream economic thinking through documentaries and conversations including: Our Struggles are Your Struggles: Stories of Indigenous Resistance and Regeneration and A World without Profit: In Conversation with Jennifer Hinton. Della is also a Senior Fellow of Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute in the London School of Economics, the Course Development Manager of Fritjof Capra’s Capra Course on the Systems View of Life, a Gross National Happiness Master Trainer, a founding member of the Doughnut Economics California Coalition (DECC), and a Senior Lecturer at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Santa Cruz Permaculture, Vital Cycles Permaculture, and Gaia Education. Della has facilitated dozens of Work that Reconnects retreats in over 10 countries over the past decade and enjoys weaving invitations for regenerative livelihoods and finances into her WTR offerings.
Maya Elson weaves together the wildness of our ecosystems with the wildness of our human selves, cultivating belonging and resilience. Raised in the forest, Maya brings their skills as a Mycologist, organizer, naturalist and teacher as an offering for addressing the root causes of our social, psychological and ecological crises. Maya coined the term “Mycopsychology”, and has developed this as a modality for facilitating deeper connection with Fungi personal and planetary transformation. Since 2009, Maya has been teaching Mycopermaculture, Fungal Biology, Mycorenewal and Mushroom Identification to all ages and currently offers classes in the Santa Cruz area. As the Executive Director of CoRenewal from 2016-2021, they worked to mitigate toxins from wildfires, petroleum contamination and other environmental disasters by working in collaboration with Fungi. Maya is the co-founder and Program Coordinator of the CoRenewal’s Post Fire Biofiltration Initiative, an effort and experiment using Fungi to prevent toxins from burned homes from entering sensitive waterways. Maya is one of the founding members of the Radical Mycology network, and has started applied Mycology groups in Olympia, WA and the San Francisco Bay area. Maya has worked as a campaign organizer with a number of climate justice and wilderness defense struggles over many years. Since 2006, Maya has been supporting youth in finding their place in their ecological and human communities by working with Wild Child Santa Cruz, Gaia Passages, and other programs. Maya holds a Graduate Certificate in Ecopsychology, and BA in Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College.
Ken is a native of Santa Cruz, Ca. In 1970 at the age of thirteen he met Alan Chadwick, the founder of the UCSC Farm and Garden. In 1985, he was an apprentice at that program and has a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from there. He also has an A.S. degree from Cabrillo College in landscape horticulture.
In 1988 after completing the Farm and Garden apprenticeship program he co-founded Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping with a fellow apprentice. He is the owner of Terra Nova (http://www.terranovalandscaping.com/) and has been a landscape contractor since 1991.
Ken earned his first certificate in Permaculture Design in 1996 and has also earned certificates in Advanced Permaculture design and Permaculture teacher training. He also holds certificates in the Green Gardener and Advanced Green Gardener programs. Ken has a Permaculture demonstration garden with his partner/fiancé Jillian Steinberger, has been teaching Permaculture Design Courses since 2008 and has taught the Permaculture class at Cabrillo College since 2012. In 2018 Ken was awarded a diploma in Permaculture Education from the Permaculture Institute.
Tim (he/they) works with producers, chefs, and supply chains across California and beyond to advance regional, seasonal, and small to mid scale producer and enterprise relationships across the food system.
At the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology he oversees a team of staff and students working from the field to the plate in re-envisioning access to delicious and nourishing food for all. Mr. Galarneau is a co-chair to the UC system-wide Basic Needs Initiative. In addition, he is a co-founder of Real Food Challenge and a board advisor to the national movement non-profit, Real Food Generation, advancing a student driven higher education effort to address equity and justice across the food system.
Tim lives on the north shore of the Monterey Bay with his family and enjoys open ocean swimming year round, diving into great wines and good books as well as hosting mythic storytelling gatherings, drawing from tales spun around the world.
Paula Grainger graduated as an herbalist from The University of Westminster in London, England in 2004. She works with clients on both sides of the Atlantic as an herbal wellness practitioner, and delights in sharing her love of plant medicines through teaching and writing about herbs. She is the creator of The English Herbalist range of herbal skincare products and has authored two books: ADAPTOGENS and INFUSE: Herbal Teas to Cleanse Nourish and Heal, which has been translated into more than ten languages. Paula brings her deep knowledge of the ancestral British herbal tradition to the California herb garden.
Darren is passionate about the study, practice, and teaching of holistic health. He has spent over 20 years cultivating a deep knowledge of holistic life skills including western and Chinese herbal medicines, organic farming, nutrition, meditation, and Qi Gong. He is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and teaches at Five Branches University, Esalen Institute, and University of California, Santa Cruz. A dynamic teacher and clinician, Darren loves his work and constantly expands his understanding of the human condition in wellness and sickness.
Lee Klinger, MA, PhD
Dr. Lee Klinger is an independent scientist living in Big Sur, California. Since 2005 he has served as director of Sudden Oak Life, a movement aimed at using ecologically-based techniques to address the problem of oak mortality in California and elsewhere. Dr. Klinger has over 30 years of academic experience in the environmental sciences and has held scholarly appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Klinger also serves Chairman of the Board of Teleosis Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to developing effective, sustainable health care provided by professionals who serve as environmental health stewards. He is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.
Rita Manna is a designer who specializes in both the Landscape Architecture and Graphic Design professions. She has 17 years of experience in the design, landscape and construction industries. She has achieved a Masters of Landscape Architecture degree from Colorado State University with a concentration in Ecological Restoration and Community & Urban Development, a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Communication Design from the University of Connecticut, and has won numerous design, gardening and community service-related awards. With such a diverse design background that focuses in on not only restoration, permaculture and place-making but also visual communication, she is able to effectively communicate through a variety of mediums.
Over the years, Rita has worked with teams both large and small to create landscapes which are restorative, memorable, functional and rejuvenating. Daily, she works with teams of Restoration Ecologists, city officials, architects, and community members to rebuild landscapes throughout the American West.