Instructor Profiles

Helen Battersby

As a dry-shade gardener for 30+ years, Helen Battersby has a great appreciation for perseverance in the garden. She is a graduate of Ryerson’s Landscape Design program and has spent nearly 15 years as a volunteer with the Toronto Master Gardeners. A member of GardenComm, the association for garden communicators, Helen has had her writing and photography published in GardenMaking and Trellis magazines and the UK digital magazine IntoGardens. With her sister Sarah, she writes the award-winning blog and, since 2017, has been the publisher of what is now called the Toronto & Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal. Helen has been a frequent presenter to groups in the GTA and beyond, plus as a volunteer speaker on the Master Gardeners of Ontario stages at Canada Blooms.

Penelope Beaudrow

Penelope Beaudrow is a Registered Herbalist and recognized herbal elder who has devoted the past 25 years to helping others foster deep and resilient connections with the living intelligence of the natural world and the regenerative, healing forces of plants and the medicine they carry. Penelope earned her Diploma in Clinical Herbal Medicine from Dominion Herbal College in British Columbia. She serves as Product Development Specialist and Herbal Educator at Faunus Herbs. She is also deeply engaged in the field of herbal education, including in-depth work with the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine and The Ginkgo Tree Herbal Course. In addition, she maintains a small clinical practice, serving her rural community, and has extensive experience working with humans and animals alike.

Penelope is deeply concerned with regenerative ecology as an integral component of the health and wellbeing of the earth and all of its inhabitants. She works diligently to reintroduce a wide variety of native, at-risk and endangered plants at her sanctuary and farmstead and is engaged in significant re-wilding efforts. She has been a fierce advocate for herbal medicine as the people’s medicine and has successfully spearheaded a team that has worked to stop the traditional herbal tonic – Fire Cider – from becoming a trademarked commodity in Canada.

The work that Penelope is engaged in every day aims to lay the foundations for a verdant, thriving, and viable future that upholds and works alongside the brilliance of nature. The path of earth stewardship has as its goal harmony, health and peaceful coexistence for all beings. The transformations that Penelope has, and continues to witness through her careful and patient partnership with the green world have far exceeded her hopes and expectations; when the plants begin to speak, it’s always best to listen, for the marvels that will unfold are sure to be beyond our wildest dreams.

Gail Bebee

Gail Bebee has many years of hands-on experience growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs in her own garden in Toronto. Her academic background (undergrad in Biology, Masters in Environmental Engineering) and past experience as a plant taxonomy technician complement her practical gardening knowledge. She recently graduated as a certified Master Gardener in Ontario and delivers presentations with Toronto Master Gardeners. Gail is an enthusiastic and experienced presenter who is keen to share her passion for gardening.

Stacey Curtis

Stacey Curtis has been penning and planting since before the double-digits of childhood. While the garden provided a way of being out, helping mom, and watching cucumbers climb, the pen provided a way of being in, helping herself understand the world transpiring before her. She has worked for twenty years as a professional editor and author. She enjoys inspiring wild expression so that people might write as unbridled as nature itself to break through the tough soil. She is equally passionate about providing professional tools and insight to shape the hard work of writers like a pruned and tended garden.

Lauri Hoeg

Lauri Hoeg is Anishnaabe qwe and a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. She has been serving her community for the past six years on the band council and holds the culture, language, and education portfolios. She obtained a degree in Public Administration and Governance from Ryerson University and is a board executive with the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body who governs the largest education self-government agreement in Canada.

Lauri’s first love is art and anything that inspires her creativity. Her crafting began as a child when her mother taught her traditional beadwork that she continues to enjoy to this day.  Lauri also enjoys quilting, jewelry making, ash basket making, and moccasin making, and also works with pen and ink and watercolour.  Her first choice of medium is acrylics. She creates florals and Ojibway paintings that are influenced by eastern woodland and west coast First Nation art.

Lauri is a mother of three children and two spoiled dogs. She practices herbalism and forages for wild foods on the east side of Georgina Island where she lives and creates in “Eagles in the East Studio”

Lorraine Johnson

Lorraine Johnson is an avid gardener, past president of the North American Native Plant Society, and author of numerous books on urban agriculture, native plant gardening, stewardship, and conservation, including 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens, The New Ontario Naturalized Garden, The Gardener’s Manifesto, and City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing.

Diana Kennedy

Diana is an active member of the Garden Club of Toronto and a design and horticultural judge. She has competed in floral competitions at TBG, Canada Blooms and internationally, even competing in virtual shows during the pandemic. Her main interest is in creating beautiful, wonderful, and interesting designs. Teaching and sharing are an integral part of her persona.

In her previous life, she was a paediatric emergency nurse, so she appreciates the unexpected! Diana’s other interests include quilting and painting, and a new passion for felting, all of which have sustained her through these interesting times.

Alan Li

Alan Li is an artist focused on nature. He supports conservation efforts through the sale of his artwork and is active in volunteering. Alan believes that drawing can open people’s eyes to the planet’s diversity and show them that it matters.

Alan grew up near the Niagara Escarpment and spent much of his childhood exploring the cliffs and forests. Those early encounters with nature have influenced both the direction of his life and choice of subjects for his art. He currently pursues his own projects, teaches workshops, and collaborates with grassroots environmental groups.

Nellie Sue Potter

Nellie Sue Potter is an award-winning botanical artist who has been teaching botanical art to adults for over 16 years. Her teaching venues in Toronto include the Royal Ontario Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Toronto Botanical Garden, her own Nature Art Studio, and the High Park Nature Centre. She shares her appreciation of plants through her art and teaching. She has had three solo exhibitions in Toronto, the latest at Toronto City Hall. A past president of the Botanical Artists of Canada, and a founding member of the Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators, she exhibits regularly with these organizations. The New York Botanical Garden chose her artwork as one of the 40 pieces in their inaugural International Triennial Botanical Art Exhibition in 2011. In 2018, she exhibited in the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Art of the Plant, a part of the international event Botanical Art Worldwide.

Emma Rooney

Emma Rooney is a community programmer, environmentalist, health and wellness advocate, gardener, and foodie. She is the proprietor of Blooming Caravan, a mobile business that brings Creative Companionship—therapeutic gardening, seasonal cooking, and storytelling—to older adults in the comfort of their homes. She also works as a horticultural therapy practitioner, offering nature connection programs in long-term care and to various community groups. Her hands-on approach is informed by an ethic of caring for the land and people and by hours spent wandering High Park, dreaming up possibilities. Emma is a newly certified forest therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and offers weekly community sessions at her Forest Bathing Studio.

Rav Singh

Rav (she/her) is a young farmer and climate educator in Mississauga. She runs a food and climate justice organization called Shade of Miti where she supports sustainable food systems that are rooted in justice and sovereignty, and not threatened by climate change. As a farmer, Rav specializes in growing local and organic bitter melon, okra, eggplant, and hot peppers. She has been involved in youth food policy work for the past few years and is helping start Peel’s first BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ Youth Food Circle.

Sean Smith

Sean Smith is the owner of Crooked Farmz, a microbrewer of fresh aerobic compost teas for home gardens, urban farms, and landscaping projects. His interest in developing a local CSA subscription service for composting and compost tea brewing emerges from deeper underlying concerns about soil health, microbial life, climate change, and our relationships with land and water. In 2019 Sean won first place in the DIY Innovation category in the Best in GrowTO urban gardening competition for improvements to an urban composting method, and he repeated in 2020 in the Professional Innovation category with an inexpensive design for a scalable compost tea brewer. He is originally from Kingston, ON, but has been growing vegetables in the East York area for the past 17 years.

Alicia Spence

Alicia Spence is a Toronto-based artist and instructor, specializing in lettering, painting and mixed media. She loves sharing what she’s learned as a self-taught artist in creative workshops at the Toronto Botanical Garden and across Southern Ontario.

Lil Taggart

Lil Taggart is an experienced and creative designer and instructor in Floral Arts   She is also an accredited Floral Design Judge and has competed on an international level as well as Domestically. She serves on the board of Canada Blooms, co-chairs the staging for the Toronto Flower Show is past president of the Georgetown Horticultural Society, and is a member of The Garden Club of Toronto.

Tena van Andel

Tena van Andel is a certified Level II 3-D Workout™ instructor who wants to keep all of us moving till we’re 102.  She enjoys volunteering for the Toronto Master Gardeners and is busy rewilding a 19th-century rundown farmhouse, fondly referred to as her ‘estate’.