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Our Team

City Farm SLO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization tasked with maintaining the Calle Joaquin Agricultural Reserve, educating and engaging the community in sustainable farming practices. Meet the dedicated people that make City Farm SLO an integral part of our local food system.

board members

Steven Marx


Anne-Marie Bergen


Gina Ruedebusch

Vice President

Dena Dowsett

Board Member

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Steven has been involved with City Farm SLO since 2011.  He started serving as President of the Board and Executive Director in 2016.  He has been motivated by the will of City residents to create an urban farm expressed in the General Plan of 1994. He was Professor of English specializing in Shakespeare at Cal Poly from 1988 to 2010. There he developed the Cal Poly Land Project, an interdisciplinary program that brought faculty and students from all Colleges together to produce a course, a book, and a website about the University’s 10,000-acre property.  He and his wife, Jan Marx, lived on an old homestead near the coast of British Columbia from 1970 to 1979, where they ran a summer camp for children.

A recently retired educator, Anne Marie Bergen connected with City Farm SLO through the farm box program which led her to volunteer and support the growth of this program! Anne Marie discovered the natural connection children and adults had for experiential learning at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School as an environmental educator. She continued as an elementary educator in Oakdale, California. During her final ten years in Oakdale, she created a laboratory and field-based science program. For the past decade she has been faculty at Cal Poly, creating and teaching science and STEM undergraduate courses for future educators. Her focus on science and STEM engaged her in many leadership roles to include the California Teacher Advisory Council (chair), Central Coast Science Project (co-director), and National Academies Consensus Committee. She was honored by President Obama in 2010.When not at City Farm or tending to her succulents, you can find her exploring the beaches and trails of the central coast!

Gina joined the City Farm Board of Directors in March 2021 after volunteering with the farm for a few months.  In her professional career Gina has a background in Sales and Sales Support and is currently the Director of Sales Operations for Mindbody.  She relocated to the Central Coast from Ohio in May of 2020 and enjoys all of the things that the area has to offer including hiking, road and trail running, and wine tasting.  She's passionate about health and wellness and in particular about helping both adults and children reap the benefits of an active lifestyle, sustained by delicious natural whole foods.  

After volunteering at City Farm SLO for a year, Dena joined the Board of Directors in February 2022.  Dena’s professional career has taken her from the Midwest to the East and West Coasts.  She settled in San Luis Obispo County in 2015 and is the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Recruitment for Monterey College of Law and its branch campuses in San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield.       

Dena brings to the Farm gardening experience from her childhood in Illinois, where she helped her parents and grandparents tend their gardens.  Her love for growing fresh vegetables stuck with her throughout the years, and now she brings that passion to City Farm SLO!

Leo Ontiveros

Board Member


Kayla Rutland

Executive Director

Shane Lovell

Farm Manager


Kayla has been involved as a volunteer then Vice President of the Board of City Farm SLO since moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2017. In 2021 she became Executive Director, bringing experience from the Health Promotion Division of the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department and previous roles in nonprofit organizations. Kayla’s personal mission is to advance community health and climate resiliency by helping all people connect with food and where it comes from. She is grateful for the opportunity to work towards this mission every day. In addition to this work, Kayla enjoys trail running, mountain biking, and backpacking in our incredible Central Coast. Kayla earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut with a minor in Sustainable Crop Production.

Shane is passionate about designing ways for natural ecosystems and our modern ways of life to thrive together. He earned a bachelor’s degree of Industrial Design at The Art Institute of California then worked as a furniture designer for several years. While this was an engaging and creative career path, he longed to take his design interests into the natural world. With growing interests in gardening, natural ecology, and regenerative agriculture, he decided to pivot his career into farming. He discovered City Farm in 2019, and after a brief period of volunteering, he joined the team as Site Manager. In 2021 he became Farm Manager, overseeing the educational gardens and general farm maintenance. His focus has been to design a system that encourages people, ecology, and agriculture to all flourish simultaneously.

Outside his work on the farm, he enjoys being in nature. Whether it’s hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or just relaxing under the trees, he is rejuvenated by observing the natural world.

Lauren Picone

Farm Education Coordinator


Lauren is passionate about protecting our natural resources and inspiring the next generation to live a healthy lifestyle.  Lauren earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Management and Protection, with a Biology minor, and an emphasis in Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has worked as an Environmental Educator for nonprofits in the past, along with being a substitute teacher for K-12th graders within San Luis Obispo County.  Lauren is excited to have the opportunity to educate students from diverse backgrounds about the importance of understanding where our food comes from and how interconnected we are with our land. When Lauren is not on the farm, you can find her hiking peaks all over SLO County, backpacking, surfing, scuba diving, and traveling to different parts of the world.  Lauren is grateful to be able to educate students about growing their own sustainable produce and teaching them ways to incorporate more seasonal fruits and vegetables into their diets!

Joseph Dominguez

Volunteer Programs Coordinator 

AmeriCorps VIP Member


Joseph was born and raised in the neighboring town of Santa Maria and pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science with minors in Sustainable Agriculture and Spanish. During his undergraduate studies he developed a deep rooted passion for regenerative agriculture and a strong motivation to serve his local community through the interconnected web of the agriculture, environment, and education sectors. After a few experiences around the globe including teaching English in Spain, working with a horticultural therapy program in Hawaii, serving with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, and learning and growing on a Biodynamic Farm and Waldorf School in Washington, he finally landed back home on the Central Coast to complete a master’s program in Higher Education Counseling and Student Affairs. He quickly became involved with City Farm SLO this past year as a volunteer and now welcomes with open arms this amazing opportunity to serve as the Volunteer Programs Coordinator. He believes this is the perfect blend of his two fields of study and he is looking forward to making a lasting impact in our community.

Sara Sternberg 



Sara started her career in agriculture and environmental resource management after earning her B.S in Biology. For the last six years, she has been the principal owner/operator of Common Garden LLC, gardening and irrigation business specializing in on-site water reuse systems such as greywater and rainwater catchment. Before starting this business, she worked for many years on holistic livestock ranches and organic farms in Northern California. Sara recently moved to SLO to attend Cal Poly to obtain her Masters in Hydrology and Watershed Management. In her spare time, Sara can be found riding her dirt bike and reading about archeology and conspiracy theories.

Adriana Arias

Youth Empowerment Program Communications & Media Coordinator


Adriana is involved with City Farm SLO’s Youth Empowerment Program as the Communications & Digital Media Coordinator and co-Facilitator. She is a senior at Cal Poly, SLO pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business with a minor in Agricultural Communications. Adriana is a native to the Central Coast; she grew up in Santa Maria and moved to SLO to attend Cal Poly. Growing up surrounded by agriculture and a family background of farming in Mexico, Adriana has enjoyed studying and working with agriculture. She also works with the local FFA region, assisting in administrative tasks and event preparations. Adriana enjoys traveling, soaking up sunsets here on the Central Coast, and visiting local coffee shops with unique aesthetics. She is filled with happiness to be able to work with students and looks forward to expanding her skill set through YEP. 

Susanna Seidensticker

Administrative Assistant


Susanna comes to City Farm SLO with a diverse background and much enthusiasm. After training and showing dressage horses professionally in her teens and early twenties, she returned to school, getting a BA in Anthropology from UCLA and a post-graduate certificate in Grant Writing from ASU. After graduating and working as an Archaeologist for several years, Susanna quit her job to join the AmeriCorps VIP program with a desire to make the world a better place. She was later hired on full time by the nonprofit she was placed with, and worked as an Executive and Finance Assistant for several years. Susanna eventually went back to archaeology, but the nonprofit world always beckoned, and she is thrilled to be a new part of the City Farm SLO team. Susanna also owns and operates Bee the Change Microfarm, a very small poultry operation and garden in Paso Robles. An animal lover by nature, Susanna has 9 dogs (yes, 9), an unknown number of chickens, quail, ducks, and guinea fowl, three rabbits, two geese, and one cat. In her free time she works on the farm, gardens, reads, cooks, and absolutely loves to travel

Tenant Farmers

Meet the tenant farmers that form the collective of small, independent organic farmers on City Farm SLO’s 19-acre parcel.



MG Farms is owned and operated by Farmer Francisco Martinon. Frank provides wholesome, organic vegetables to local school districts, SLO Veg, and local farmers' markets. He grows a huge variety of crops including squash, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, tomatoes, leeks, beans, berries, herbs, and so much more! 

Francisco Martinon



Aviator acres family farm

Farmer Nathan Ecret has been farming for over 28 years.  Growing up in a farming community, Nathan has been involved in farming a variety of crops over the years.  Farmer Nathan is now retired and working harder than ever for family and community, growing healthy, fresh vegetables for the home cook or farm to table chef. 

Nathan Ecret



Monarch Hills Education is a Waldorf-inspired homeschool enrichment program for students K-4th grade. Our mixed aged program cultivates a lifelong love of learning, through art, play, music, gardening, and more.


blosser urban garden

Subtenant Blosser Urban Garden is a small-scale certified organic farm in Santa Maria operating since 1996, with a CSA of over 250 members and a farmstand on Blosser Road. It’s owned and operated by Jerry and Alejandra Mahoney. Jerry worked for eleven years as the Cal Poly organic farm manager, teaching future farmers the importance of sustainable organic farming practices. 

Jerry Mahoney


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Info coming soon! 

Kent Bailey

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Our Global family farm

Teresa "Tree" Lees promotes global unity and permaculture through regenerative agriculture techniques.

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