UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

Meet a Few of Our Master Gardeners

Maria Bermudez

Daughter of migrant farmworkers from rural central México, María learned the importance of growing food and raising farm animals at an early age. Being born in Los Angeles, María was not privileged to be brought up with such lifestyle. Living in an urban town and fast-paced working environment led her parents to, like many immigrants, lose traditional farming methods and succumb to fast-food. Now María wants to restore such customs, meanwhile educating her community about the agricultural process. Currently she lives on a chicken ranch alongside her partner and family. María received a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is presently exploring options for Grad School. She is currently attempting to master EVERYTHING that has to do with gardening. In her spare time she likes to thread facial hair, do crafts, and read books halfway through. She became a Master Gardener in 2014. Her areas of interest include:

Urban farming

Community gardening

Indigenous food practices



If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Maria @ m.bermudez91@yahoo.com

Loleta Cruse


Loleta started helping her parents tend their vegetable garden when she was about 5. Her interests revolved around pretty flowers. By the time she entered her teens she had been promoted to chief lawn-mowing technician. In addition to gardening, Loleta enjoys knitting, crocheting, quilting, traveling, and playing the piano. Loleta has been a Master Gardener since 1993. Her areas of interest include:




Edible Landscaping

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Loleta @ paulcruse@earthlink.net

Jeanne Dawson


Jeanne began organic gardening when she was 17, after working with her grandmother in Arkansas several summers on the farm. In addition to gardening organically, she incorporates the benefits of back yard chickens in her garden. When not working in the soil, she likes to do nature photography, travel, sew, and is her family historian. Jeanne has been a Master Gardener since 2012.  Her areas of interest include:



Companion Planting

Organic Gardening

Espalier Fruit Trees

Back Yard Chickens

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Jeanne @ dawson8165@mac.com

Kathleen DeRouen


Kathy, her husband and three dogs live on 40 acres of near wilderness in the Mojave Desert of Morongo Valley where they built their off-grid solar home 35 years ago and raised their now grown sons. Surrounded by canyons, ridges, and occasional riparian areas, their passion has been to appreciate, explore and enhance their property as a sustainable wildlife habitat and refuge. They maintain seventeen hummingbird feeders and are rewarded with native and migrant species. Kathy's current passion is composting -- vermi- and traditional -- to recycle green material and build the decomposed granite soil to support native and cultivar plants and wildlife and provide seasons of beauty. They are working to include edibles in their landscape, a challenge in the desert where wind, heat, drought, fire, soil, critter, and water issues challenge them.

Kathy is a retired middle school teacher and continues to assist students with the college admission and financial aid process. Kathy has been a Master Gardener since 2012. Her areas of interest include:


Sustainable wildlife habitat

Planting challenges: on slopes, in decomposed granite, with critters....



If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Kathy @ kathyderouen@yahoo.com


Happy Gardening!

Linda Gregory


Linda is a retired teacher with a masters degree in environmental education and continues to work with the environmental club she started for students 15 years ago. She has been a master gardener since 2012. Her areas of interest include:

School gardening programs

Junior master gardener curriculum

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Linda @ lmagregory@yahoo.com

Gretchen Heimlich

Strub Portrait of Me

Gretchen is a longtime armchair gardener who over the last several years has gotten her hands dirty working at and leading a team of volunteers at a backyard farm in Whittier. Her goal, and the goal of the farm as a whole, is to give the people of Whittier a place to learn, to enjoy gardening together, and to practice growing edibles sustainably. She is also interested in designing landscapes that are water-conscious, edible and exquisite, and to that end is taking evening classes at Mt. SAC to broaden her knowledge. During the day, she works in marketing at Newegg.com; her passions/hobbies include biking, hiking, backpacking, cooking, reading, photography, and writing. Gretchen is a Master Gardener in Training whose areas of interest include:

Urban Agriculture

Drip Irrigation


If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Gretchen @ vizslaluv@gmail.com

Connie Kevari


Connie grew up in Southern California, so she is well aware of the varied environments and concerns involving horticulture within our county. Her experience with horticulture encompasses aspects from Integrated Pest Management to Greenhouse Management. She attended Cal Poly Pomona and completed a B.S. in Plant Science. While attending Cal Poly her curriculum included Bee Science (the study of honey bees), soil fertility and fertilizers, plant propagation, plant pathology and hydroponics. An internship at Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden was part of her senior project. Connie has been a Master Gardener since 2012.

Cathryn Oltman


Cathryn was originally from a small farming town in Central California. She has lived all across the United States and is a retired RN. Her interests are primarily in Sustainable and Edible Landscaping as well as the integration of Native Plants into our many local microclimates. She gardens primarily in large planter boxes and would like to convert her current landscape into one of edibles/ornamentals combined. She is very interested in the health benefits of home gardening both for the gardener and the community as a whole. Cathryn has been a Master Gardener since 2012. She enjoys camping, fishing, and being the support group for her triathlete husband. Her areas of interest include:

Edible/Sustainable Landscaping

Native Plants

Integrated Pest Management

Landscaping for Microclimates

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Cathryn @ svenska200@aol.com

Kumiko Peterson


Kumiko‘s ancestors were farmers in Japan. Her own parents had a citrus grove and grew vegetables for family. Picking snap peas or tomatoes for dinner table was a daily chore for young Kumiko. When she was in high school, Kumiko learned the art of Ikebana, which taught her to look at plants from a different perspective. Now a 20-year resident in southern California, Kumiko has learned to appreciate its unique weather, soils, and plant life. In her spare time, Kumiko loves to crochet or knit, while listening to classical music. Kumiko became a Master Gardener in 2010 with a gentle encouragement of her neighbor who is also a Master Gardener. Her areas of interest include:

Succulent Plants

Edible Gardening

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Kumiko @ kumiko@tarbell.com

Liane Veenema

20131026_bay area self

Liane's first memories of gardening were her grandma's massive plot in southern Idaho, where she would pick peas and eat them off the vine, build forts in the apple trees and play croquet with her cousins through the irrigation ditches. Her grandma's canned peaches ruined her for anything else. Liane tried growing a watermelon one time at age 7, but neglected to water it sufficiently. Perhaps the water saving behavior foreshadowed her future of becoming interested in water wise and sustainable landscapes. Liane became a Master Gardener in 2013-14 to help her learn more about having beautiful, sustainable gardens in arid southern California. She currently keeps a number of lovely, low-light house plants with her one hour of sun in her cosy Mt. Baldy canyon, and gardens vicariously through her friends and in the demonstration garden at her place of work, the Chino Basin Water Conservation District. Her areas of interest include:

Water wise/sustainable landscaping

Fun and interesting house plants

Vegetable/herb gardening

If you have any questions about these gardening topics, contact Liane @ lveenema@cbwcd.org

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