About Our Instructors

Cole Benoit

Cole is the founder and head bitters maker at The Apothecary Bitters Company, where he specializes in small batch bitters made from all natural botanicals. His passion in this field has led him into teaching others about bitters, often through seminars and events. Constantly experimenting and creating, he’s also active in cocktail and spirit consulting, designing cocktail programs and working with brands such as Long Table Distillery, where he co-created the first amaro in BC.

Andrea Bellamy

Andrea is the author of Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: Growing Great Edibles in Containers, Raised Beds, and Small Plots, gardening columnist for Edible Vancouver and Wine Country magazine, and the creator of HeavyPetal.ca. She has a certificate in garden design from the University of British Columbia and is a passionate but practical gardener. She lives in East Vancouver with her husband and young children, and grows a wide range of organic edibles wherever she can find space.

Brian Campbell

Brian is a Master beekeeper, Master Gardener and native bee enthusiast. He has taught beekeeping with the Environmental Youth Alliance since 2009, and currently teaches apiculture at the Richmond Farm School. Brian is also the founder of the Bee School and President of the Richmond Beekeepers Association.

Melissa Clark

Melissa H. Clark has devoted a lifetime to the visual arts.  Her technical skills along with her creative ability are well recognized with collections in Holland, U.S.A., Australia and Canada.  Melissa continues to develop her knowledge in traditional methods, however she thrives on self-exploration.  This is evident in her many awards from local shows to being listed as a promising young artist by the National Gallery of Canada.

Since 1997, Melissa is the owner and operator of Acorn Art and Image.  This home based business incorporates fine art portrait photography to calligraphy.  Of her many accomplishments, Melissa is most proud of organizing the biannual Langley Outdoor Art Exhibition (1998 – 2009).  Melissa also holds a Kwantlen College Visual Arts diploma and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Arts and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia.

Katharine Dickinson

Katharine Dickinson has a postgraduate from The Slade School of Art, London, U.K. She has worked as a professional illustrator and artist for twenty years.  Katharine has expertise in a variety of traditional media. She paints portraits by commission and landscapes for exhibition.

Teaching art is a passion; Katharine works with Vancouver and Burnaby Art Galleries, in public and school programs. She strongly believes in the power of education and drawing as a method for understanding the world. Her classes are engaging, emphasizing seeing and the principles of drawing from life. Students have fun while learning the necessary skills to develop their own artistic vision.

Cristina Freire

Cristina has been instructing yoga indoors and outdoors at VanDusen Botanical Garden for the past 5 years and she has been a dedicated yoga practitioner for the past 8. Her training is in somatically based and mindfulness practices and this is reflected in her slow class style where practitioners are given the time and space to work kindly with their own individual bodies, breath and mind.

Leanne Hildebrand

Leanne majored in Music Performance and graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 1996. She is passionate about art and handmade paper. She has collected handmade paper from different countries.

Leanne has 8 years of experience making handmade books. Which were sold at the Suho Memorial Paper Museum in Taipei. She started learning to use Japanese hand-dyed paper (washi) to make pictures about 14 years ago in an Japanese art form called Chigiri-e studying under several masters in Taiwan. She has had three well-received exhibitions of these pictures in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Vancouver. View examples of her art here.


Jennifer Lipka

Jennifer Lipka’s enthusiasm and passion for gardening shines in her workshops. She has spent the last 10 years gardening organically at her local community plot and patio, and inspires her students to grow successful gardens all over the city. She shares her knowledge from Kwantlen on organic gardening, botany, seeds and harvesting and is currently enrolled in a Bachelor’s of Environment and Sustainability at UBC.

Ron Long

Ron was a staff photographer at Simon Fraser University for over 36 years. During this time he had a parallel career teaching photography at adult continuing education programs. The most notable of these was at Kwantlen University where he taught a ten month photography program.

Kate Maliha/Love Your Age Fitness

Kate’s experience in the health and fitness industry spans over 25 years and includes many facets of leadership within the field of exercise and active aging.  Past and present roles include program development and management, curriculum development, fitness leadership course development and training, as well as individual and group instruction.  Kate has an MA in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia with a focus on exercise and aging.  Kate is a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist (ACE), a Certified Functional Aging Specialist (FAI), and has further specialization in balance and fall prevention.  Kate’s continuing education focus centers on current research in Gerokinesiology, including brain health, functional aging, corrective exercise, and medical exercise.  Kate is the founder of Love Your Age Fitness (loveyourage.ca) a company which provides fitness classes and mobile fitness services to mature adults throughout the province of B.C.  Kate leads a team of talented active aging exercise specialists  who help clients age vibrantly by improving their health and function.

Dana Mulder

Dana Mulder is an elementary school teacher with the Vancouver School Board and has worked in children’s programming and education outreach at VanDusen Botanical Garden since 2011.  With a special interest in capturing the beauty of nature through working with natural mediums, Dana practices natural dying, mineral pigment painting, and seaweed pressing with her young students as well as adults.  Always aware of the ethics of sustainable harvesting, she is keen to share her passion for the wonders you can create from your own backyard.

Susan Pearson

Susan is an established Vancouver artist and illustrator loved for her cheerful artistic style, inspiring lessons, and patient and supportive teaching style. Susan’s work has been chosen for city banners, posters, t-shirts, and for promoting urban events such as the 2010 Olympics, Bike to Work Week and the Dragon Boat Festival. She recently published her first illustrated book, “Anna May’s Cloak”.

Justin Schneider

Justin Schneider is a certified Permaculture Designer, and holds a Diploma in Organic Land Care. He completed a degree in Education, and is currently a Landscape Horticulturist at VanDusen Botanical Garden. He has been working in the horticulture field for over 15 years, in Canada, Costa Rica, and New Zealand. He enjoys teaching concepts of sustainable gardening and design, and loves to inspire others to follow the wisdom of Nature.

Claire Smith

Claire has over 15 years experience in the horticulture industry, with a special interest in growing edible plants and flowers. She is currently training to become a Registered Nutritionist, fulfilling her lifelong passion of helping people reach their optimal health and happiness through better nutrition.

Yael Stav, PhD

Yael is a sustainable design professional, with expertise in living walls and urban agriculture in Israel, Australia and Canada. Her PhD work focused on designing sustainable vertical gardens. She enjoys teaching and advocating for integrating more plants into urban environments. She also enjoys gardening in her domestic micro-farm and in community gardens. Her studio, Invivo Design, located in Vancouver, is involved in educational and design projects related to green infrastructure.

Casey Werfl

Casey Werfl is a head gardener at VanDusen Botanical Garden, currently in his tenth year with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He holds a Horticulture Certificate from Capilano College and is a certified Journeyman Landscape Horticulturalist.  Casey enjoys teaching foundational methods in an interactive workshop setting, aiming to inspire those who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills in the gardening world.