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.

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.

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.

Richard Hallman

Richard grew up on a small commercial orchard in the Okanagan Valley where his fascination with pruning and grafting fruit trees began. After university he travelled and worked as an advisor to the commercial tree fruit industry before joining the BC Ministry of Agriculture as a horticultural advisor to commercial and home garden tree fruit, berry and vegetable growers. After 30 years in this role he retired in 2010 and started a new business focused on teaching Fraser Valley gardeners how to grow their own tree fruits and berries. His specialty is training gardeners how to prune and train their fruit trees on-site in their gardens. He is a registered professional horticulturalist, a Certified Arborist and an Espalier Master. For more information about Richard visit www.richardhallman.ca

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.


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.

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.

Samantha Sivertz

Samantha graduated from UBC with an Honours degree in Evolutionary Biology.  She has worked with the collections at the UBC Herbarium, Tetrapod and Fossil collections. She has been the Plant Documentation Technician at VanDusen since June 2009.

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.

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.