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Faculty 2015

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)
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.

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.
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.

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.

Jim Montgomery
Urban Goat Dairy

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..
Seth Peterson
All About Dehydration<
The Whole Pig
The Whole Lamb
Made With Masa
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.
Tanya Stiller
The Bitter Truth:
Making and Mixing Homemade Bitters

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.

Jeremy Watts
Backyard Mushroom Cultivation

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.