Meet Our Guest Speakers!

Our 2016 Keynote Speaker

John Kabashima

John Kabashima has s B.S. in agricultural biology (Cal Poly Pomona), a master’s degree in pest management,.and a Ph.D. in entomology(both from UC Riverside). He also earned his MBA at Pepperdine University. In 1987, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources recruited him to become a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

In 1998 Kabashima took over the fledgling UC Master Gardener Program in Orange County, which as of now has trained more than 300 UC Master Gardener volunteers to extend research-based information on gardening and horticulture to the public. He is now an environmental horticulture advisor, emeritus with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE).

Over the years, he has studied the management of insects, diseases and weeds in horticulture production systems, biological control of exotic pests, and water-related problems in landscapes, golf courses, nurseries, municipalities and watersheds.

We are extremely fortunate to have John as Eco Garden Expo 2016’s Keynote Speaker!

John KabashimaEnvironmental Horticulture Advisor, Emeritus, UCCEJohn’s Extensive Bio and Qualifications

Our 2016 Emcee

Greg O’Brien

The Emcee for Eco Garden Expo 2016, Greg O’Brien’s voice will be heard throughout the event! A Voice Actor and production talent for 39 years, Greg worked as On Air talent at numerous New England radio stations. In addition, he spent 18 years as a contracted announcer for ESPN, where he was responsible for voicing a wide variety of Sports Promos & Imaging for programming aired on the ESPN Family of Networks. We are excited to have him back with us again to introduce speakers and tell you all about what Eco Garden Expo has to offer!

Greg O’BrienAudio Production Services, Innovative Sound |; 860-205-5919

Our Excellent Experts

Kathryn Agresto

Kathryn Agresto is a culinary gardener who specializes in chef’s gardens. Founding owner of Native Soil Gardens, she designs edible gardens for restaurants, corporations and residences. She combines an artistic eye with her astute palate, creating beauty while selecting the most delectable fruits and vegetables tailored to a chef’s menu preferences. Her efforts support the movement in the farm-to-table dining scene, as her intent is to support a Chef’s creative approach and vision with homegrown natural produce.

Kathryn AgrestoOwner, Native Soil GardensNative Soil Gardens
Elizabeth Bancroft

Elizabeth Bancroft is a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and Master Composter. She has taught composting and vermicomposting classes to other Master Gardeners as well as to the gardening public. She also volunteers on the Master Gardener Hotline answering questions on all kinds of gardening topics, and works on the UCCE Master Gardener website.   In her spare time she grows vegetables in a community garden in Irvine.

Elizabeth BancroftUCCE Master Gardener and Master ComposterUCCE Master Gardeners
Beth Benjamin

Beth Benjamin brings her years of extensive practical experience indoors to the position of Horticultural Advisor at Renee’s Garden. Prior to that, she helped develop gardens for UC Santa Cruz and Camp Joy Gardens, a 4 acre non-profit educational center.  Locally, she serves on the board of directors of Camp Joy and the Organic Seed Alliance, gardens with her children and grandchildren, and is studying psychology.

Beth BenjaminHorticultural Advisor | Renee’s Gardens

Joanne Byrd has been a University of California Master Gardener since 2008 and is their co-chair for School/Youth Gardens in Orange County focusing on training teachers, parents and other volunteers how to create and maintain gardens.  She is passionate about “propagating” the next generation of home gardeners and opening the eyes of children to the fun of gardening, the taste of healthy foods and the responsibility for environmental stewardship.

Joanne ByrdUCCE Master GardenerUCCE School/ Youth Gardens
Jodie Cook

Jodie Cook has been a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener since 2011 and has taught California Friendly Landscape Classes throughout Southern California. She is a long standing member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the California Native Plant Society and other horticultural organizations. Her garden areas of interest/knowledge include designing beautiful, sustainable landscapes using native and Mediterranean plants and edibles.

Jodie CookJodie Cook Landscape DesignJodie Cook Landscape Design
Hannah Crum

Hannah Crum, affectionately dubbed “The Kombucha Mamma,” has been brewing Kombucha and educating others about how easy it is to make this delicious and healthy “longevity elixir” since 2004. She has taught Kombucha making classes to all size groups, from individuals to workshops of 100+, all over the country for over a decade. In addition to teaching, she installs large-scale Kombucha set-ups and is the Master Brewer for numerous restaurants and shops in the Los Angeles area, as well as consults for many Kombucha brands from those just starting out to established breweries looking to scale up. In 2014 she and her husband co-founded Kombucha Brewers International – a non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting and protecting commercial Kombucha around the world.

Hannah CrumMaster Brewer, Community Educator and Mentor, Kombucha KampKombucha Kamp
Anna Maria Desipris

As an urban farmer and beekeeper, Anna Maria Desirpris‘ drive is to educate and empower families (especially children) on the importance of growing food and living a sustainable lifestyle.

Her experience stems from many years of teaching children in gardens to now teaching both children and adults the practices of organic growing.  She now implements and manages edible growing spaces, educational and volunteer programs. She is also committed to ensuring Honeybee survival through education, rescuing hives, maintaining an apiary with natural methods, and assisting those who wish to keep bees.

Anna Maria DesiprisUrban Farmer and Beekeeper
Robert Farnsworth

Robert Farnsworth received his first degree in Speech and Communication at Colorado State University with an interest in Natural Resource Conservation. He also has a BSLA and MLA in Landscape Architecture from the University of Idaho, where his thesis explored rain water harvesting. He is a Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Design at Saddleback College since 2008, where his interests include California native plants, water conservation, sustainability, and horticulture therapy.

Robert FarnsworthProfessor | Saddleback College Horticulture and Landscape Design
Derek Knobel

Derek Knobel is Rancho Mission Viejo’s passionate, hands-on Vice President of Ranch Operations. For him, his daily routine ranges from overseeing the successful care and harvest of The Ranch’s 85,000 citrus and avocado trees, managing a full team of dedicated farm and ranch workers, and maintaining the facilities and grounds that also host the El Viaje de Portola horseback ride and the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo each year.

Derek KnobelVP Ranch Operations, Rancho Mission ViejoRancho Mission Viejo
Kyle Moore

Kyle Moore is a Field Energy Consultant for SolarCity, America’s largest solar energy provider. In his 2 ½ years with SolarCity, he has helped hundreds of Southern California families make the switch from fossil fuel-driven electricity to clean, renewable solar power for their homes. His career with SolarCity began in 2012 when he and his wife and two children bought their first home in Fullerton and became SolarCity customers. As a Consultant, he is passionate about helping his customers achieve energy independence while realizing savings and, most importantly, having a positive impact on the global environment that future generations will inherit.

Kyle MooreField Energy Consultant | Solar City
Jorge Ochoa

Jorge Ochoa has academic credentials from both Long Beach City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Jorge Ochoa is currently the Horticulture Department Chair of Long Beach City College and a frequent guest lecturer throughout Southern California. Ochoa is a rare instructor – one with the uncanny ability to make any subject interesting and easily understood.

Jorge OchoaDirector and Instructor | Horticulture Program, Long Beach City College
Ty Teissere

Ty Teissere specializes in backyard orchard care, from building the soil life to pruning the canopy, and the irrigation systems in between. He has taught ecological workshops on permaculture design, greywater, earthen construction, fermentation, and kids classes on making compost with worms. Ty is a certified arborist (#WE-10547-A), greywater installer (Greywater Action), rainwater harvester (Watershed Management Group), and has his horticulture certificate from Long Beach City College.

Ty TeissereEducator | Greywater Action
Lucian Toma

Lucian Toma leads and coordinates lectures and workshops at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano that inspire individuals with practical approaches to environmental problems at the household and community level. The Ecology Center highlights cutting-edge perspectives that restore and enhance coexistence with a thriving environment. It focuses on small and big issues such as: How to manage food supply and waste? How to make homes healthier?

Lucian TomaPublic Programs/ Volunteers | The Ecology Center
Wendy Proud

Wendy Proud has provided numerous plant presentations and interviews to a wide variety of groups and organizations including Sunset Magazine, DIY Home & Garden Network, San Diego Home & Garden Magazine, Monrovia Growers Retail Plant Council, gardening clubs and nurseries. As a California Sales Representative for Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in Phoenix, AZ, she was instantly hooked on desert adapted plants and the desire to inspire others about the beauty and diversity of plants from the Southwest and other arid regions.

Wendy ProudMountain States Wholesale NurseryMountain States Wholesale Nursery
Cinda Webb

Cinda Webb was born and raised in Southern California. She has always been interested in cooking, teaching, and learning about healthy foods and food systems.  She worked for some time teaching elementary aged children. Her teaching turned to learning and exploring more about food preservation. She graduated as a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Food Preserver in 2012.  Cinda continues to enjoy roaming local farmer’s markets, teaching others about food preservation techniques, volunteering locally, as well as tending her own backyard garden–complete with chickens–in Irvine, California.

Cinda WebbUCCE Master Food Preserver Coordinator for Orange CountyUCCE Master Food Preservers
Helen Wood

Helen Wood became a UCCE Master Gardener in 2008.  She gives presentations on butterflies, worm composting and habitats. She is also a Master Composter.  She created her home Butterfly habitat over 15 years ago and it has been evolving ever since.  She enjoys sharing plants, creating, and designing butterfly gardens and habitats for family and friends and sharing information with the community. She also maintains 5 worm bins and uses worm composting as a method to recycle and provide nutrients to her garden soil.

Helen WoodUCCE Master Gardener and Master Composter