UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties
UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties
UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties
University of California
UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties

Smart Gardening Fair

Presentations and Demonstrations


Smart Gardening Fair is a free educational event presented by the UC Master Gardeners of Monterey Bay on Saturday, April 2nd, at the Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel. It is is a colorful marketplace of “all things gardening” with a special focus on sustainable and water-wise practices! Come enjoy:

Speakers and demonstrations on a variety of timely gardening topics. (See schedule below.)

Information booths by community organizations and gardening related businesses offering lots of information, goods and services.

Food and drink booths and music to make it a fun and memorable day.

view last year's program

Presentation Schedule:

10 AM - Aaron Dillon - Fruit Trees in a Drought
11 AM - Ron Herman - The Art of Restraint: Concepts of Japanese Garden Design
12 PM - Tom Snyder - Peppers: Eating your Rainbow
  1 PM - Margot Grych, Leta Messenger - Herbal Insights: Growing and Using Plant Allies
  2 PM - Kristine Albrecht - The Wonder of Dahlias


- Summer Fruit Tree Pruning & Developing Espalier Fruit Trees, Peter Quintanilla
- Teas - Growing Your Own Herbal Infusions, Sara Steiner
- Chicks in the City, Hens in the Hood, Candice McLaren
- Beekeeping, Ron Morgan & Richard Carr
- The Secret Life of Compost, Otis Johnson

 Presentation Information

10:00 am - Fruit Trees In A Drought, Aaron Dillon

Come and learn all the tips from a pro for success with citrus and other fruit trees. Topics will include information about pruning, fertilizing, container versus in ground planting, variety selection, pest control and tree care during drought conditions.


Aaron Dillonis a fourth generation citrus nurseryman with Four Winds Growers¸ a wholesale nursery in Watsonville specializing in citrus production, including a wider range of edible fruit trees and bushes. Aaron is an expert on growing citrus on the central coats; he is passionate about teaching people to create productive and sustainable edible landscapes in any home garden, big or small. 

11:00 am - The Art of Restraint: Concepts of Japanese Garden Design, Ron Herman

The talk will explain ideas that were generated over a thousand years of Japanese garden-making. We will look at the evolution of an organic view of nature that mirrors human growth and its relation to sustainable garden practices. the lecture will concentrate on design concepts that can be used by designers and home owners anywhere.


Ron Herman is a Landscape Architect specializing in residential and estate gardens with his office in San Leandro, California.  After receiving his degree in landscape architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, he studied the history of Japanese gardens at Kyoto University. He has lectured widely on Japanese gardens and been the recipient of two Japan Foundation fellowships for garden research.  His professional work has been extensively and prominently featured in the national media and in several books on gardens. He is co-author of A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto.

12:00pm - Peppers: Eating your Rainbow, Tom Snyder

From red to purple, sweet and juicy to hot and spicy this large group of vegetables has something for every taste. It can be easily grown in your home garden.

Challenge your taste buds to bring tears into your eyes or enjoy the sweet summery flavor of mild peppers. Learn about a range of ways to prepare exotic dishes with this fruit form an expert on Spanish cuisine.


Thomas Snyder, executive chef at Esteban Restaurant in Monterey , really knows his peppers. Upon graduating at San Francisco’s  California Culinary Academy he joined The Campton Place Restaurant in San Francisco and was made Chef de Cuisine. From there his culinary career took him around the globe: the James Beard House in New York City, Michel-Sarran’s two star Michelin restaurant in Toulouse, France, Michel Guerad and Madam Sarran’s restaurant in the Armagnac Region.  Upon returning to the United States Tom continued to pursue his passion for Spanish Cuisine. Beyond these professional endeavors, Tom enjoys serving his community by teaching others, he worked for the CHEF’s Program in San Francisco, helping to teach the city’s homeless culinary skills and currently teaches high school students cooking skills, while feeding families stricken with cancer.  With his innovation in the kitchen and community awareness, Tom is sure to be a fixture on the Monterey restaurant scene for years to come. 

1:00pm - Herbal Insights: Growing and Using our Plant Allies, Margot Grych & Leta Messenger

From the gardener's perspective this talk will reveal potential health benefits of herbs. After 60 cumulative years of working with plants and medicine, speakers will share innovative ways of growing and using the Mediterranean herbs that flourish in our Monterey Bay area. Because this is an enormous topic, they will focus on the Lamiaceae family of plants (sage, mint, lavender, etc.), and the nuts-and-bolts of how to grow them and traditional ways of working with them.

Margot Grych works with gardeners of all ages. For the past 7 years, she has held the position of Garden Teacher at Tularcitos Elementary inCarmel Valley and has taught in the horticulture dept. atMPC and in the Older Adult Program. Herbs have been her passion. She grows and uses them both in the kitchen and in craft projects. Over the years she has worked in many historical gardens, including Filoli, Tor House, and Cooper Molera, specializing in the herbal gardens. 

Leta Messenger, RN BSN, has embraced a practice of seasonal eating and natural healing throughout her life. She is a member of the American Holistic Nurse Association (AHNA) and a certified Western Herbalist. She apprenticed with an Apache woman for three years and sat on “The Next 500 Years” Nutrition and Gardening Committee in support of the Arapahoe Nation at the Wind River Reservation, WY. Over the last 30 years Leta has studied and taught the healing principles of preventative and integrative health care through a seasonal organic diet incorporating herbal and medicinal foods. Leta continues to bridge the gap between natural integrative therapies and allopathic medicine.

2:00pm - The Wonder Of Dahlias, Kristine Albrecht

Get intimate with the colorful, spectacular dahlia! Kristine will explore this subject from the history of the flower, to how to grow it in your own back yard. She also will outline the challenges such as pests and diseases and highlight the varieties that do well in our area. Learn the basics and start your own collection of these beauties.


Kristine Albrecht is president of the Monterey Bay Dahlia society and has been growing and breeding dahlias for over 10 years. She shows her dahlias at Bay Area and national dahlia competitions and is a judge for the American Dahlia Society. She grows over 1000 dahlias in her half-acre flower farm in Santa Cruz. 



* Developing and Maintaining Espalier Fruit Trees - Peter Quintanilla

Espalier fruit trees are a great way to grow fruit trees in small gardens. Learn the pruning techniques to develop fruit trees along a wall or fence and how to maintain trees to enhance fruit production and keep them at manageable size.

* Summer Fruit Tree Pruning - Peter Quintanilla

Fruit trees can benefit from summer pruning. Learn the basics of fruit tree pruning for apples, pears, peaches and plums. Demonstrations on how to train young trees and the annual pruning for mature trees. 

Peter Quintanilla, is a ISA Certified Arborist, UCCE Master Gardener and instructor of arboriculture and landscape pruning at Cabrillo College. He also teaches tree care for the Master Gardener’s training class and give pruning workshops for both landscape crews and home gardeners. Peter's experience spans from native and formal gardens to fruit tree orchards and Japanese gardens.

* Teas - Growing your own herbal infusions - Sara Steiner

From vitamin C in spruce needles to soporific California poppy, learn about traditional as well as less well known plants that make tasty and beneficial herbal infusions.?

Sara Steiner, winemaker turned estate artisan grower, is the proprietor of San Benito Tea Company. Specializing in herbs grown at her Three Horse Farms and wild collected botanicals, her unique and health conscious blends are available on line and at various farmers markets. Sara will explain the variety of herbs that can be used for beneficial infusions and, how to harvest, dry, blend and package your own.

* Chicks in the City, Hens in the Hood – Candice McLaren

Stop by the Chicks in the City, Hens in the Hood booth to have all your chicken raising questions answered.

Are you thinking of getting some backyard hens this year and want to know what the best breed is for you and your family?

Do you want large or small birds, white, brown or blue/green eggs, fancy feathered birds, full grown hens or baby chicks, or possibly rescue birds from Animal Services?   

Do you want some ideas about how to design and place a chicken coop?

Before you bring those baby chicks home you’ll want to know how to prepare their first home, how to keep chicks warm, what to feed them, and how to make their transition from a warm house (yours!) to their new chicken coop outside.  

Come by and take a selfie of you and Goldie, the Buff Orpington hen.

Candice McLaren is a Monterey Bay Master Gardener and while no longer raises chickens, she had a bad case of them for over 20 years! 

* Beekeeping – Ron Morgan, Richard Carr

Ron and Richard will share many good tips and advice on how to start your own hive. They will have an observation hive set up.

Ron Morgan and Richard Carr are a local home beekeepers with seven years experience. Managing their own beehives, they have gained extensive knowledge in the art of bee keeping. They will share many good tips and advice on how to start your own hive.  Stop by to see an observation hive and a variety of beekeeping gear.

* Composting: Tricks to harvest the best organic fertilizer – Otis Johnson

Composting is easy, this demonstration shows how to easily create the best organic fertilizer, all with the input form your own garden and kitchen scraps. Otis will demonstrate compost in various stages of decomposition and it’s many applications. He is available to answer your questions on how to build and maintain a successful compost heap.

Otis Johnson is a compost enthusiast and wants to share compost consciousness with other people. As a farmer and landscaper he has a burning desire to expose others to the joy of decomposition and change the way we view waste. Otis is a certified Green Gardener, Master Composter and Master Gardener.

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