SLOLA BOARD BIOS:
David King – Chair
David King is the founder and first Chair of the Seed Library of Los Angeles. From the beginning the mission of the Library centered upon the idea of clean, wholesome, non-GMO food for every one in the Los Angeles region, especially the under-served and compromised communities. With the ideas that food, uncontaminated with pesticides and questionable technologies, is a right of all people and seeds belong to humanity, he called for a meeting of like-minded people on December 4th, 2010 and from there, the Seed Library of Los Angeles was born.
A transplant from northeast Kansas, David started gardening as a five year old under his grandfather’s tutelage. He lives his life full-time as an author, writer, gardener and activist in Los Angeles, working to make home grown food a part of the Los Angeles’ culture. As a speaker and instructor, he shares his knowledge of growing food with quick witted humor and an infectious passion for the subject.
As the gardenmaster/director for The Learning Garden, a community and school garden located on the campus of Venice High School, King has been published in a number of different horticulture and gardening venues and has appeared on TV and radio. He teaches for UCLA Extension, writes for gardening and ecological magazines and blogs. He fervently hopes to publish his first book on gardening, Growing Food In Southern California, in the very near future.
Matt Van Diepen – Vice Chair
Kieanna Jolaei – Secretary
Kieanna Rose Jolaei is a long term volunteer at SLOLA. She started as a Seed Librarian in 2012 and now sits with the Board as Secretary. Originally from Los Angeles, Kieanna is an advocate and believer in local change; however, she also believes the need for more well-versed lawyers protecting mother earth’s soils and waters. Kieanna is a top paralegal at a Century City law firm by day and a student furthering her legal career by night. She is known to obsessively read food labels, take really good photos of our events and spread the good word about sacred seed. Her hobbies include yoga, gardening, spontaneous road-trips, cycling, ocean breezes, love and traveling.
Lucinda Zimmerman – Treasurer
Lucinda is a co-founder of SLOLA and a UCCE/LA County Master Gardener. She became increasingly interested in growing edibles when she moved to Los Angeles 8 years ago. Taking classes at UCLA Extension, she developed the skills to take advantage of Southern California’s year-long growing season. She is especially interested in helping children, including her three sons, reconnect with their food supply. Prior to moving to LA, she was a Special Education teacher in Northern Virgina.
Azita Banu – Membership Chair
A graduate of ‘Seed School’, Azita Banu started as a volunteer seed librarian with her sister Kieanna Jolaei to learn more about growing and seed saving. What started as an extracurricular activity for sister time turned into a life changing experience.
Inspired by nature writers like Gary Snyder and Thoreau, Azita was intrigued by the SLOLA email inviting her to one of its first meetings in 2011. Now as Membership Chair she is writing the monthly newsletters in hopes of raising awareness about the importance of food security.
Despite being involved with SLOLA for over a year, Azita’s gardening skills are still basic. In her garden you can find Mexican Rue, Arugula and Bean varieties.
Albert Chang – Best Practices Chair
Albert Chang caught the gardening bug as a young boy in the Midwest. Growing up with fresh fruits and vegetables, he is dedicated to spreading the knowledge of how to grow one’s food. He spent two years as strategic advisor to Green Arrow Nursery in North Hills. Albert is currently on the boards of the Southern California Garden Club and the LA Mushroom Society. He is the co-Chairman of the Scholarship Committee for California Garden Clubs, Inc. Albert is an active member of the California Rare Fruit Growers and the San Fernando Valley Rose Society.
Linda Preuss – Database Chair
A graduate of ‘Seed School LA’ Linda has been saving seeds for over 20 years. Since 1999 she has been volunteering at a Domestic Violence shelter, co-directing its gardening and cooking program. The women and children at the shelter learn about a healthy cycle of life—from planting a seed, to caring for the seedling to harvesting the food and then saving the seed.
She has presented at the American Horticultural Therapy Association Conference, as well as the American Horticultural Society’s Symposium on Gardening with Youth. In 2010 Linda traveled to Denmark to share her work at the University of Copenhagen and at Dannerhuset, Denmark’s largest shelter for battered women.
Working with the Westside Permaculture group and many other local garden-related projects has helped balance out her work as a database designer and computer consultant. She views seed saving as the key to diversity in our food system and loves sharing her knowledge with the community.
Patty Kestin – Volunteer Chair
Patty Kestin is a novice seed saver and avid volunteer with nearly twenty years experience as a community activist working for equal access to the courts, health, education, and food for individuals and families in low-income areas of Los Angeles.
Patty is committed to building awareness in children of the importance of where the food we eat comes from, how it is grown, and the power and impact of our food choices on health, nutrition, the environment and economy. She is a UC-CE Master Gardener, School Garden Teacher at Mark Twain Middle School in Venice, Project Manager at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy Urban Farm Project in Lincoln Heights, Vice-President of the Board at the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law and a member of the LA Food Council School Garden Subcommittee. She was a Founding Member of the Slow Money Alliance and a volunteer at the LA Free Clinic and Growing Great. She has an M.B.A. from U.S.C. and a J.D. from New York Law School.
Patricia ‘Pat’ Ruiz – Library Chair
A recent graduate of ‘Seed School’, Patricia has always loved problem solving and design which led her to become an architect. The desire to live in a healthier environment grew by using LEED practices and exploring alternative building materials. By 2011 Pat really began to enjoy working with her hands on both edible and drought tolerant gardens; with her lovely dog supervising from afar. Her interest in saving seeds started while a student of David King in 2012 in UCLA’s Global Sustainability Program. Pat found great passion in volunteer work with SLOLA the following year. She would love for the library to blossom and inspire more people to ‘grow out’ seeds themselves by getting their hands dirty with soil in the ground or in a container. JUST GROW!
Jessica Suda ‘Prem’ – Outreach
A graduate of ‘Seed School’, Jessica fell in love with farming at the age of 9 at the Hawthorne Valley Farm in NY. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in Film and Photography, she spent over a decade working in production in the city before migrating to California to live on a cliff’s edge over the Pacific Ocean and farm at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. Today she serves as Outreach Chair on the board of the Seed Library of Los Angeles, building a repository of heirloom, open-pollinated seed, a vast network of seed saviors and working with City Council to make LA County a GMO-Free Seed Zone. She gardens in front yards, on balconies, a little overgrown plot at OVF and in school gardens with the best planting partners and seed savers. She started a campaign called Plant Baby LA to help let go of our land of lawns and transition to native gardens and pollinator habitats. She works for The Greenhorns– a radical network of young farmers, cultural workers with a mission to promote, support and recruit the incoming generation of sustainable farmers and agrarians www.thegreenhorns.net
Branch: San Fernando Valley Steering Committee BIOS:
Paula Kleihauer – Chair
Currently serving as the Chair of the San Fernando Branch of SLOLA, and previously serving as its Seed Librarian, she was an early member of SLOLA. Paula is both a UCCE/LA County Master Gardener (2006), and Master Food Preserver (2014) teaching people how to both grow their own food and preserve the bountiful harvest. As a Master Gardener, a major, ongoing volunteer project is the Public Orchard/Serenity Garden on the campus of Grant H.S. She is also in her sixth year as a volunteer with Food Forward (Los Angeles’s’ premier gleaning organization) as a Property Scout, and Pick Leader on a regular basis, and in various other capacities on an as needed basis. Her volunteer activities in these organizations are an outgrowth of her interest in and commitment to social justice, particularly the area of food insecurity Paula Kleihauer is a native Los Angelino who has lived in the San Fernando Valley since she was four years old. She has fond memories of early years when her parents tried raising tomatoes, Swiss chard, watermelons, and chickens on the back of their 2/3rds of an acre property. She is retired from LAUSD. A member of the North Hollywood Community Garden she grows both food to nourish the body (veggies) and food to nourish the soul (roses and irises).
Lori Bennett – Vice Chair
Shicana Lynn- Secretary
Benita Robinson- Membership Chair
Benita has been a part of SLOLA’s San Fernando Valley Branch from its beginning in May of 2013. She is an avid home gardener but still considers herself a novice when it comes to seed saving. She joined SLOLA to not only learn more about gardening and seed saving, but to also help spread SLOLA’s philosophy that the preservation of seed is a sacred trust. She believes we can all eat healthy, organic, homegrown food with a little knowledge and a little patience.
Open- Best Practices Chair
Open- Volunteer Chair
Bettina Gatti- Library Chair
Bettina is a Master Gardener volunteer with an interest in teaching edible gardening to school groups.
Robin Gilbert- Outreach Chair
Raquel Trinidad Caceres- Outreach Co- Chair
Raquel grew up in the urban jungle of Los Angeles, where she would spend countless hours at the nearby garden with her great uncle wandering and exploring. Coming from maternal and paternal lineage of farmers from MesoAmerica, her parents always loved growing medicinal herbs, fruit trees, and tomatoes (their summer favourites!) as far back as she remembers. After traveling six months farming and reconnecting spiritually and energetically with the land through the Andes and Amazon in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, she is excited to continue her love for permaculture here in the San Fernando Valley! A budding gardener and novice seed saver, she plans to share her love for plants, facilitate exchange and learning across cultures and ways of being, and have fun. Raquel is an avid cyclist, gardener, meditation practitioner, and overall curious soul. She is thrilled to be a part of SLOLA family.