Meet The Staff

>VP, General Operations Manager, Board Member: Lisa West

Lisa has been gardening since she was a little girl at her grandmother’s urban farm in Sebastopol.  With a degree with high honors in business management from Santa Clara University, Lisa ensures every donation is best utilized to improve the educational value for each future guest…aka she is really good at keeping us on budget!

At the Farm, Lisa has a myriad of tasks she thoroughly enjoys completing by either leading volunteers or training staff to lead a team of volunteers.  Every Volunteer Day or Experience Day you can find her in the garden teaching people how to plant seeds, transplant seedlings, monitor/maintain plants to maturity, harvest, tilling unused plant parts back into the land…  All of the garden plans both at Hollyhill Hummingbird Farm and our consulting clients’ own homesteads have been created by her and her many years of gardening experience.  Our amazing natural ingredient soda is brewed up by Lisa and naturally carbonated using champagne yeast.  Dishes for our Volunteer days and Experience Days are prepared and served by Lisa.  She is the orchestrator of all of our parties, from the wonderful food to the fun games.  Lisa is also responsible for establishing and maintaining the Facebook page and, with the help of another Supporting Hummingbird (Thanks Wendy!) who paid for our domain name and taught Lisa how to use WordPress, Lisa has created this website and helps maintain it.


>Steward of the Land, CEO, Founder, Board Member: Dave West

Started off at Georgia Tech pursuing just aerospace engineering and ended with grad school at UC Irvine doubling both aerospace and mechanical.

Dave had always dreamed of working at NASA and helping humans colonize Mars.  It was his life’s goal when he dove into aerospace.  We might mess up Earth someday and it would be good to have some kind of “arc” of DNA on Mars.  It was a sad day when he realized if would take 2,000 years to terraform Mars to a liveable planet, thus forcing early settlers under some kind of “bio domes”.  It became important for Dave to understand what was needed for humans and all of their necessary symbiotic partners to sustain themselves.  Deep down he was always a nature loving hippie!

Every job he was offered in the aerospace world involved war. His graduate adviser informed him, “the inventor of the laser was hailed as a mad man bent on hurting the world. Now look what lasers do for us: DVD, CD, Laser-eye-surgery, Laser-any-surgery, fiber optics…” In the end Dave wasn’t happy working on war efforts, despite how cool he thought the sonic booms over the mojave desert NASA flight research center sounded. It takes two to tango, so he opted out and focused on two things that are important for everyone in his community: Food and Education.

Dave grew up on an urban farm in the heart of the Silicon Valley.  When he was four years old he caught a “wet” egg right out of a hen and still remembers the event to this day. Dave and his parents built garden boxes for the grandparents and Dave helped his grandparents grow corn and tomatoes. As a child and teenager; Dave even grew his own plots of herbs and mastered cooking tomato sauce and rising pizza dough.

Brief Resume of Experience:

  • 1 year leading the troop as Senior Patrol Leader (Eagle scout with troop 494)
  • 2 years Night Manager for Togos in Cupertino between the ages of 16-18
  • 3 years Research/Design: Lockheed Martin, US Air Force, Boeing/NASA, Morelli & Melvin Sailboat
  • 1 year starting a company; building up to 4 permanent employees and moving to a larger location.  Sold company share to his partner and sailed away…
  • 7 months sailing a catamaran circumnavigating the globe as First Mate(translator/cook/new crew trainer/night watch/holding the helm in storms/tasting every beer under the sun) “Gin’s Tonic” ISBN: 9789881772435
  • 1 year teaching Advanced Sailing & Thermodynamics Classes for University of California, Irvine
  • 1 year managing 4 undergrads developing a new materials testing lab while running experiments for Boeing/NASA
  • 2 years management consulting: Army, Navy, Siemens (Germany), Emco Cables (Colombia), NASA,…
  • 7 years CEO at Hummingbird Farm:  working the land, helping people walk again, giving tours, consulting homesteaders, leading some of the best picnics you have ever seen, rain making for charities, hosting airbnb experiences, hosting airbnb room guests, leading volunteers and volunteer managers.

As the Steward of the Land, Dave is foremost concerned with keeping the land healthy and productive with all forms of life,  from the microscopic yeast to the health of every guest.  Dave oversees every aspect of the Farm and through this he shares every aspect of the Farm on our wonderful and educational Farm Tours.  While this may seem glamorous to oversee all, it often means that he is either fixing something or cleaning/sanitizing something.  He manages by delegating power and giving support to the leaders of tasks.  Dave believes that someone who owns a task and is allowed to be creative will come up with better ideas and have a greater sense of accomplishment when the task is done.  His real desire is to find a use of every task’s “waste” and to use it as an input for other tasks at the Farm; for example, spent grain from brewing is used to make bread and feed chickens.  An end all goal would be a world without war and trash; look at all the resources we waste on these wasteful activities and how destructive they are to our home planet.  Dave is much happier using his brain on thinking up new ways, and sometimes bringing back old ways, of producing food without producing waste than he was in his past career in the war industry.


>Fiber Specialist: Holly

Holly’s love of the fiber goes far deeper than flax’s nutrient lifting roots. While she enjoyed embroidery in high school, it wasn’t until she was working towards a bachelors in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado did she truly appreciate the importance of fibers for warmth.

While working several “real” jobs after college, Holly truly enjoyed blogging about sustainable living. Have you ever seen a hand powered washing machine? Holly owns one! It’s not just a wash board although it does have a wringer. Her donations to the farm are great! We started out with a chicken tractor and a clothes line and it has grown into a washing machine to boot!

If there is a group of old ladies who meet to talk about some way to spin, embroider, knit, weave…Holly has done it and probably met the old ladies group you are thinking of. She has studied weaving under Hannelore Cole of Custom Handweavers, attended the California School of Professional Fabric Design, and has won awards for spinning, embroidery and weaving.

If there is something that you can turn into a fiber (ethically/fair trade only), she has probably made something amazing of it. Every year she jokes about making a sweater from Kiely’s annual summer shave. Some of her best works came when she was learning how to hand spin yarn. It contained so many beautiful imperfections, she couldn’t do it again if she tried. Have you ever seen a full sized loom? Holly owns and runs one in her house.

Visit her website to find out more about Holly’s love of fiber, learn to weave without fancy equipment, and peruse her fair trade handwoven goods!


>Brewmaster, Board Member: Rico

Rico does not like reflect on his time at NYU.  Nor does he boast about his studies with San Jose State.  Somewhere between those two schools, Rico  found himself among a boisterous group of misfits working on a start-up in the Silicon Valley.  Rico was fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor of a company making a device that transferred mp3s from your computer, via the wireless router, to any room in your house where your stereo was!  The company never failed; it just followed the tide of corporation conglomeration.  Logitech bought the company out and slowly transferred jobs overseas.  Rico’s abilities to solve problems with computers (hard and software) became known wider than just his job.  He became the go-to-guy for everyone’s problems, from the obvious things like “you need to plug this in” or “you need to turn the wi-fi switch to on” to the insane saves like “Help my email got deleted, my password was expired and now I have the blue screen of death!”

Rico has always studied the fine nature of brews, even as a boy he helped his father burp wine bottles in their cellar.  His family has been making booze since his grandfather was making wine back in the motherland, Italy.  His formal brewing education was self-taught and should not be laughed at.  With over a dozen books read cover to cover, emphasizing homebrew nuances, and countless internet forum articles read, Rico designed the entire operating procedure along with sourcing and ordering all the necessary parts.  Using a computer program that analyzes “Grain Bills” (ingredients of a particular beer) Rico is able to tweak the flavors of the beer before we even brew it; however, in the end there is an art to it and Rico feels out the small details while brewing.  It is a fact, this farm would not have beer if were not for this man!


>Berry Nice Team Leader: Sallybeth

What is the etymology of the word strawberry?  Many Farmer’s like to support the theory that it comes from the fact they mulch the plants with straw to keep the berries off the dirt, which is a great way to grow them.  Sallybeth is a strong believer in local organic food, and a strawberry mulched with oil based plastic and sprayed with more oil based pesticides & herbicides is not a “strawberry”…it is a “oilberry”.  Since childhood she has worked on local food; from a one acre farm her mother maintained to her own garden beds of tomatoes, raspberries and blueberries later in life.

If you are a little sore, or just in need of some serious physical rehabilitation, Sallybeth is a great person to know.  For the small aches and pains, she is a practicing massage therapist (American Massage Therapy Association member) with four years of experience.  Do you need to learn how to walk again?  Sallybeth holds a degree in Kinesiology, specializing in movement science.  At the Timpany Center of San Jose, Sallybeth helped individuals with disabilities in Warm Water Functional training or with groups in the Aqua Arthritis class.

Sallybeth is not shy, more correct; she is outright friendly and polite!  No wonder she is a great team manager.  For three years, Peet’s Coffee & Tea trusted her to lead teams in upholding the integrity of Peet’s mission statement.   We always enjoy her management when working with large groups.  For example, when a team from GoPro visited the Farm, she led a team clearing weeds from the berry patches.

Fun conversation starter; ask her about her two year stent as a bread peddler in Olympia, Washington.


>Chain Man, Brewer, Devil’s Advocate, Board Member: Steve

While Steve has helped greatly with his Survey Expertise, despite his disdainful talks about how miserable it is to be a Chain Man, he truly loves helping us brew, digging trails and asking great questions.

Steve loves beer almost as much as he loves talking about strategy in video games like League of Legends.  His love of strategy and his ability to ask important questions have helped keep the many steps of the brewing process safe, sanitary and oh so delicious!

Steve was one of our first brewers.  He has helped with many of our first brewing sessions and has even pushed us to try his favorite recipe: the crowd winner red ale called, “Irish Redheaded Stepchild”.  Judging from his haircut, it ain’t him the brew is referencing…

When touring the farm and you ask where the tractor is, you might be directed to look around at one or two of the volunteers.  Within 4 hours time Steve is able to move over a cubic yard of dirt (~1 ton) over 100 yards with a 30% uphill grade on the last 50 yards!  Steve started working at the farm because he couldn’t find motivation to ride a stationary bike in a small room of an apartment.  The workout had a point and a goal…Cheers!


>Marketing Assistant: Sneha

Sneha started her studies in Tamil Nadu, India with a BA in English Literature. While she enjoyed being promoted quickly from an English Teacher to the teacher of the English Teachers, she has since changed up her location and her direction. In 2012 Sneha moved to the Silicon Valley and has since been focused on Marketing. Using situational analysis, she implemented a pricing strategy for Nokia. Ask her about direct marketing for Virgin America without intruding upon the customer! Did we mention she did a complete product analysis of the Tesla Model S? Projects aside, she should be wrapping up a MS in Marketing at Golden Gate University by 2015. Her latest work involves a new app that allows consumers to know what the Farmers have available at the Farmers’ market before they leave their home.

Sneha helps spare the air by telecommuting to the Farm. She has helped us find websites that will promote our Farm’s missions and even posted on a few herself (did you see us on reddit?). She compiled a list of local companies that give to their local charities. The lists go on, such as companies that give grants to educational 501(c)(3) charities. Sneha helps advertise by posting Farm Flyers in the real world while not stuck in telecommuting traffic.

When people work for something they believe in, they are happier to do the work. Sneha believes firmly in ethical and symbiotic farming. Ethics are not always present in a marketing person, but the force is strong in this one.


>Ringer: Davinder

Davinder was our first guest to respond to our first Craigslist ad!  The next guest not only walked to our Farm, they gave us $20!  We thought either we would get money or a permanent volunteer every time without having to ask…[lol]…  We had beginners luck with Davinder and altruism.

Davinder has worked on several farms.  To us the most outstanding feat he talks about, and proves each time he wields a clam shell digger, is his ability to dig post holes despite the heat!  Even when he hits “Cupertino bedrock” he continues to dig with a 40 pound steel spike!  Davinder came to our farm because of his Punjabi Culture and stayed because of the friends he made.

We call him the Ringer because of his ability to get a job done.  He may be able to predict the day he will be able to come to the farm, the exact time is always a mystery.  When he does show up, it feels like whatever the goal of the day is – will be done.  Davinder owns goals of the day and will not relent until they are done!



>Master of Carpentry and the Sea: Rhett

Rhett has studied the art of bending wind into a cruise for a very long time.  While sailing, many things need to be rigged; sometimes in strange make-shift ways.  Rhett just has one of those minds that can take what you got and make it work.  As a boat owner you can bet that Rhett is handy, or else his boat would sink!  He has salvaged a beautiful sailboat that he ties onto a dock near Los Angeles.  If there is a tool for the job, Rhett’s got that.

Rhett’s formal education sounds like a great joke.  Who is smarter?  A medical doctor or a rocket scientist?  Damn it Jim, get off that space ship and let’s ask the drunk guy on the boat!  To be clear, he has studied Aerospace and Environmental Health Science.

Rhett has helped with three of the eight box constructions.  His first time showing up at the farm, a whole wall was built in one day! (Box #2)  His second visit left us with another box near completion! (Box #4)  On his last visit he constructed and positioned each of the signs that Lisa had painted.  He has to save the world now from toxins in the air (“real” jobs pay better).  However, he still visits occasionally and is excited to start a new project now that the garden boxes are done.


>Web Development Support and Hosting: Wendy

wendy7Wendy supports our Farm from the comfort of her office.  She is our proud donor who has pushed our farm onto the web!  She trains Lisa when questions arise and supports general web development problems.  Besides her help on the web, Wendy helps the farm bounce development/legal ideas around.  Since 2012 Wendy has donated the funds and server space to keep us on the web!  This is a huge gift and we thank her for all of her friendly support!  When not donating her time to Farms and Girl Scout Troops, she runs a business helping companies with their web needs.  Check her out her wonderful company:


>Pickler and Brewer: Phil

Phil’s last home was Portland Oregon, where there are more breweries per capita than any other city in the world!  He grew up making homemade refrigerator pickled eggs and veggies with his family and still does it to this day.  Besides helping out when he can with brew and farm stuff, he is taking our excess eggs and veggies home to preserve them in yummy home made pickled treats.  His Worcestershire style eggs are better than anything anyone has ever tried to get you to eat over a bar bet, these pickled eggs are actually great!  They go well with salads too if you are looking for a hard boiled egg, but don’t want to wait.

Phil came to the bay area for the technical work, like most people around the bay, but he has also done some interesting side work.  He has been a HomeBrewer, sold eggs from his own farm to his co-workers, and he loves to cook.  He is one of the many people who came to volunteer while unemployed and has since gotten employed.  He still comes back to dig and he is still welcome when we brew.


>Viticulturist: Kan

Kan came to our farm back in the good old free eggs for everyone days; however, it wasn’t the eggs.  Eggs are more of a treat than a diet for her; Kan came to our farm because of our mission statements:  She believes in ethical treatment of life and education to our community about all life.

Besides the Farm, she also helps the Audubon and local schools with environmental education right out in our own parks!  She holds degrees in Environmental Compliance/Pollution Prevention, Energy Management/Climate Policy and will soon have another one in Environmental Stewardship and Biodiversity Specialist.  Let’s not forget that she has been helping our community since she was in high school:  the FUHSD Board of Trustees gave her their Community Service Award!  The list goes on…U. S. Geological Survey, Teacher Assistant, Lab Assistant , University Of San Francisco, Good Samaritan Hospital…

As a viticulturist, Kan is more than just the grower of the grapes who amended and sculpted our grape mound .  She owned the DNA for our vine before it came to our farm.  Our Thompson Seedless Grape vine was started by Kan with a cutting from her own vine.


>Compost Master: Court

What do the following things have in common:  Colorado Rocky Mountains, Glaciers of Alaska, the Appalachian Mountains, Mount Kilimanjaro and Hollyhill?

Court has done something for the better for the common good of all at each of these locations!  Field studies of native plants, presented a talk at a symposium titled: How to Keep Wrangle St. Elise National Park “Wild.”, organized a “Global Youth Service Day”, raising $4,000 for an African non-profit, and now he comes to us to help out!

With a wheelbarrow Court moved an entire years worth of compost in less than an hour!  While compost may be far from his bachelors in Geography he did get a minor in sustainability while at the University of Denver.  We welcome his input on topics of hillside farming but Court is looking for a job that utilizes his skills in creating Geo-Databases; digitizing analog to digital maps – contours, rivers, buildings and roads creating attributes fields; creating contour lines, DEM data; 3D display; excel files to Arc Map layers; Urban Geography; GIS; Remote Sensing; Advanced Remote Sensing; Cartography; Economic Geography; Geographic Statistics; & Transportation Geography.  Let us know if you have a great job for him!


>Lady of the Water: Shannon

Our Lady of the Water is one of our most influential staff members! All life as we know it depends on clean water, and Shannon keeps us all safe (animals, plants, and fungi). With diligence she has answered every question regarding water safety: heat safe equipment for building our home brewery (fungi), lead content in common garden hoses regarding plant uptake, ways to clean and maintain a reverse osmosis water filtration system (animals)…

By 2014 she will have obtained a PhD in Environmental Science from UCLA. They already gave her the honor of “Leader in Sustainability”! Other fun facts from UCLA: As a researcher she worked on the safety of pharmaceuticals, herbicides, personal care products, and natural organic matter; as a Teaching Assistant she helped teach Fate and Transport of Organic Chemicals in the Aquatic Environment; in 2008 she was the president of Environmental and Occupational Health SA.

She has served on the faculty of Cal. State Northridge writing an intensive course on global environmental health foundational concepts and current issues. She has worked as a chemist collecting and organizing samples from across the North American continent and a Project Manager for EDI Environmental Consultants.

As if the BPA in plastic bottles wasn’t enough, she has published an article in the Journal of Environmental Health warning us of a different danger, titled: “Heavy Metals in Bottled Natural Spring Water”.

Her efforts thus far have been greatly appreciated and in every new expansion, we will inevitably need to ask more questions. Thankfully we have someone who cares so much about water to answer them!


>Artisan (Painter, Sculptor, Brewer…), Board Member: Steven

You wouldn’t expect someone to be able to create our new logo in a few hours AND take meticulous notes while brewing craft beer.  Most people with extreme creativity are not as organized as this guy.  His talent may have started with urban street art, but now he’s branched into many mediums selling his art at galleries for hundreds of dollars.  Check out his work (maybe support him with a purchase!): Art of Steven Suiter on facebook

His own homebrew is outstanding and always bearing a literary character that embodies the brew’s style.  We have big plans for a wood fired oven and Steven will be there to ensure style isn’t forgotten.

He’s graduated with honors earning a degree in English and is working on a higher degree with focus on creative writing at San Jose State.  He’s been involved in management of people for a long time; working at companies like Nordstrom and Borders, even being entrusted to work alone visiting 16 stores for Hostess in a 60 mile radius!  It’s no wonder he has had such great jobs; he is an excellent, fun and witty conversationalist.


>Mulch Mistress: Ariel

Someone with a “Can Do Attitude” is a great asset to any Farm! Ariel is always happy to do any Farm chore, and she makes it fun with her upbeat conversation. Originally from Kansas City, Kansas; she transplanted herself to the Bay Area in search of better year round weather to enjoy the great outdoors. She is in love with all the hikes she and her dog, Magoo, have found around the Santa Cruz Mountains and foothills.

Her work experience has mainly revolved around staffing, but her leadership skills have proven useful! Within seven days she had hired 20 new people and increased revenue by 25%! At the Farm, she leads teams of people along our steep slopes to gather mulch.  Delivering the mulch to each planting site is her workout and you can’t take it away from her!  Using natural grass for mulch is so much better for our earth than wasting oil on plastic that will just fill our landfills.  The straw/hay is also used in the chicken coops to absorb manure for composting.

At her home, she grows so many veggies that she gives away much of her harvest to her new Bay Area friends!  Not many girls love sitting in a bar watching football with a cold one, then again; not many people are as great as Ariel!


>Hop Yard Manager: Cesar

Jeff Foxworthy would say, “If you spend the day playing in chicken *excrement* and getting scratched by *rambles*, you might be a beer *aficionado*!”.  Ok, Foxworthy might not use such *big* words, but you must love beer if you work with hop vines.  This year Cesar has ensured our new hop clones have taken root and given each of them plenty of chicken manure/soil mixture to grow big and strong for next spring’s transplanting into the Hop Yard.  While giving each hop plant a regular inspection, he trains any stretching vines up the twine.  He is also responsible for all major hop harvests, drying and proper storage of hops for 2014.

With a lifelong interest and love of the outdoors it is no wonder that Cesar is working towards an Environmental Studies degree at San Jose State University with a concentration on Resource Management.  He has worked on wetland conservation for Stone Lagoon, renewable energies, reducing carbon emission in California to help combat climate change, analysis of resource management and promoting sustainable water use without plastic bottles.

Cesar is a self-motivated individual who is organized, dependable and focused on community involvement.  He has a keen knowledge of our local ecosystems.  He is even fluent in Spanish and English!


We are proud to help people expand their Resumes.  Visit our Former Staff page to verify resumes.

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