About Christopher


photo by Helen Krayenhoff

Christopher Shein is an East Bay California permaculture designer, landscaper, gardener, and author whose gardening and social activism roots run deep. His Grandma Peggy Wellman was a union waitress, labor organizer, and gourmet cook in Detroit who grew tomatoes in her backyard. His mother Vickie Wellman grew a wide variety of vegetables in their backyard and at the community garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Christopher attended UC Santa Cruz where he was introduced to the Alan Chadwick Agroecology Farm and Garden. As a work-study student, he expanded the recycling program to include composting cafeteria vegetable trimmings in the Merrill College garden. For the four summers during college, he worked at Detroit Summer, helping start community gardens and learning from elders like Mrs. Thompson, who was a former sharecropper from the South.

After graduating from UCSC in 1993, Christopher spent three years initiating Spiral Gardens with Dan Miller, Craig Metz, and hundreds of volunteers, and a year in British Colombia at Linnaea Farm studying ecological gardening from David Buckner, and permaculture design from Liz Richardson and Brent Howie.

After landing in Oakland, Christopher helped launch BASIL (Bay Area Seed Interchange Library) and stayed actively involved in community gardens, school gardens, and public space food gardens. In 2002, he was invited to teach at Merritt College in the Landscape Horticulture Department, and now, Merritt has an acre of developing food forest. Christopher’s book, The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem, was published by Timber Press in January, 2013. Christopher’s busy schedule includes his landscaping business, Wildheart Gardens, teaching and speaking about permaculture, growing food in his backyard garden, and spending time with his wife and two daughters, Gitanjali and Bija Sol, his two most important long-term crops.