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The San Diego Sustainable Living Institute brings in local and regional experts to share their wealth of knowledge and passion with us. Below you will find information on our many teachers.

Brook Sarson- Water Harvesting and Permaculture

Brook is owner and founder of H2OME, San Diego’s first rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling installation business. Her mission is to create a local water supply and encourage conservation through appropriate landscaping and simple greywater and rainwater techniques. H2OME offers residents simple, low cost, context-appropriate solutions as a first step in resolving the larger water issues facing San Diego.

In addition to installing dozens of rainwater and greywater systems throughout San Diego, Brook has taught countless classes and workshops in water, soil, and Permaculture throughout San Diego, including at Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden, multiple Food Justice Conferences, schools, and gardening clubs.

Brook has completed her Permaculture Certification with ECOSA Institute in Prescott, AZ, her Master Composter Certification, as well as having taken the Water Harvesting Certification Course with the Watershed Management Group. Additionally she has interned at Seeds at City, a quarter acre organic, urban farm on the City College campus in the heart of downtown San Diego.  Brook graduated with a B.S. in in Electrical Engineering and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California

Brook is currently an Adjunct Professor as part of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program City College and is on the Advisory Boards for Wild Willows Farm and San Diego State Extension Program for Sustainable Landscaping and Water Conservation.  She continues her travels throughout the Southwest U.S., Mexico, and Australia to explore different water harvesting technologies and Permaculture solutions for arid environments

Hilary Kearney- Beekeeping

I like to tell people I that I attended the YouTube school of beekeeping. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Art I ended up working for a software company but spent all my free time teaching myself to beekeep on the internet. Soon, I was the freak of the office telling everyone about bees, worm composting, raising chickens and coordinating covert bee rescues through Craigslist.  Today, you can find me teaching beekeeping classes, working on growing my own backyard beekeeping business and tending to bees in my yard, my friend’s yard and on my mother’s roof! I invite you to follow my beekeeping adventures on my Facebook business page:  Girl Next Door Honey.

Yael Zaidman- Farming and Co-Director of San Diego Sustainable Living Institute

Yael is an avid organic gardener and has traveled to many exotic places to observe and experience how food is grown.   She is a  Master Composter,  has also been an apprentice at Seeds@City College and is an active member of the Roots Sustainable Food Project.  She is the Education Coordinator for Victory Gardens San Diego and has recently completed a Certification Course in Permaculture Design. She finds no greater joy in life than to plant a seed, watch it grow, harvest, prepare and eat the fruits of her labor.

Josh Robinson- Permaculture, Water Harvesting, Director of San Diego Sustainable Living Institute

Josh Robinson has been designing and installing rainwater and greywater systems since 2002 and has professionally installed dozens of systems including gardens featured in Art Ludwig’s greywater bible, “Create an Oasis with Greywater” and Toby Hemenway’s “Gaia’s Garden.” He has also been instrumental in working with municipalities such as the City of Flagstaff to create water harvesting ordinances and policies.  Josh currently lives and gardens in San Diego at “Higher Elevation Permaculture,” an urban permaculture demonstration site.

Alden Hough- Permaculture and Gardening

Alden is garden manager and instructor at Sky Mountain Institute; a non-profit organization in Escondido which offers free monthly workshops on different aspects of permaculture and sustainable living. He is a graduate of the internationally renowned Center for Agro-ecology and Sustainable Food Systems program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was the garden manager and lead instructor of the garden apprenticeship program at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, AZ. He is in the process of developing a water harvesting demonstration garden on his family’s seven acre homestead.


Amy Hite- Youth Garden Coordinator

Amy is a strong advocate of community and local regeneration which she feels deepens San Diego’s sense of regional and personal identity. She blogs at about regeneration in San Diego.  Amy is the owner of Organic Hammer, a sustainable landscape design company and is in the process of creating Union Farm, an urban permaculture farm & nursery in North County.

Amy holds a degree from UC Santa Cruz in Early Education & Childhood development.  She feels that children have an innate connection with nature and by encouraging this bond we can foster a sustainable future.  Amy recommends that every parent read Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods” which explores the increasing divide between the young and the natural world, and the environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual implications of that change. It also describes the accumulating research that reveals the necessity of contact with nature for healthy child—and adult—development.  Amy currently lives with her husband and two young daughters in Encinitas, CA.

Christopher Marciello- Permaculture Design, Water Harvesting, Food Forester

Christopher, having been born into a middle class Irish/ Italian cross pollinated family, was recognized as odd from an early age. This lead to early onset existential questioning and a deep mistrust of neanderthal man.  While living in an attic as a young adult, Christopher began his shamanic training with a Wompanoag Spiritwalker who taught him animal spirit based absorption practices.  During this time period he was regularly going on walk-about, having philosophical discussions with E.T.s and devoting his life to service work, specifically with Food not Bombs and The Shundahai Network focusing on issues of access to healthy food and Native American land rights as well as beginning to study Permaculture and the art of ancient Irish home building.

Most recently, Christopher has developed a 3.5 acre permaculture farm for his family and completed his Permaculture design coursework with Josh Robinson.  Christopher is greatly inspired by J. Krishnamurti, Masanobu Fukuoka, Geoff Lawton, Amit Goswami, Sigur Ros and the increasing numbers of permaculture activists, gardeners and urban farmers.

Christopher is the owner of C2 Agriculture, a permaculture design company in Escondido, which focuses on passive rainwater harvesting techniques and food forests.

Colin Richard – Permaculture 

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Colin found himself drawn to the natural world from a young age. Hiking, fishing and exploring in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as a youth instilled in him a value of ecosystem health, which melded with interests in human wellness and social justice as he matured. A passion for adventure, culture and spirituality led him to travel internationally as a young adult and opened his eyes to issues affecting the developing world. His longstanding role as a volunteer with the San Diego-based international development organization Plant With Purpose has helped him see the connection between ecological, environmental and social issues, both local and global.

Colin’s formal journey into ecology and sustainable agriculture began at San Diego City College’s “Seeds @ City” Urban Farm, and has continued as he has worked with numerous local for- and non-profit organizations, including Victory Gardens San Diego, Albert Einstein Academies, San Diego Canyonlands, The Earth Discovery Institute, and The International Rescue Committee (IRC).  He has attended several permaculture design courses since his first in the spring of 2011, is currently completing a certificate in Community-based Development through Colorado State University, and has attended trainings in tropical agriculture development at Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) in Ft. Myers, Florida. His interests include appropriate technology, community dynamics and social justice.