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Beth Benjamin

Horticultural Advisor

Beth attended UC Santa Cruz in 1967. While there, she would go to the garden to meditate and quite soon after she thought, “Why am I sitting here with my eyes closed? I want to help with this”. The garden was started by several professors who thought that the very new campus needed something special and grounding, and they brought Alan Chadwick to start it up. Beth was an early protégé of Alan Chadwick at the UCSC Garden.

Beth Benjamin and group at Camp Joy apprentice gathering, 1978
In 1971 she (and her husband at the time) were given the opportunity to build Camp Joy, an educational garden/farm project on 4 acres in Boulder Creek. She has two children who grew up there – and her daughter is still there working with her dad at Camp Joy today.


Beth Benjamin with her oldest child at Camp Joy, 1974

Beth started working with Renee in 1985 at Shepherd’s Garden Seeds. She used to pack seeds by hand for her at home as a little side job, and then she began to help writing seed packets for flowers. In 1988 she started full-time at the office in Felton and became the office manager. When Renee started Renee’s Garden, Beth was there beside her helping grow the business, where she continues to answer horticulture questions for customers via email.

Her favorite part of the job is helping gardeners to succeed by getting a sense of what they’ve done so far, and what they can do differently. She answers growing questions based on having grown the varieties herself and her own product experience.

Beth Benjamin hiking in Southern California

One thing she wishes to impart to all gardeners is how important it is to build good healthy soil, so as not to need pesticides and fungicides to fix problems, and to learn how to grow their own food, and to feel the pleasure that even just harvesting a little bit of something you’ve grown to use in the kitchen brings.

Beth believes every child should be taught in school how to start seeds and grow them on to maturity and also how to make compost, and which insects are beneficial, and how to cook from the garden.

She has been reading and writing poetry for a long time. Renee has heard Beth read her work and says she’s really great! She’s also a voracious reader who likes to get up early to read when the mornings are still and quiet. And in addition to everything else she does, Beth is a wonderful baker renowned for her pies!

Beth Benjamin reading poetry

Beth currently serves on the board of the Claremont Garden Club and is involved in many other community organizations. She has been involved in organic growing issues for many years and supports the work of Real Organic Project. She thinks its so crucial for so many reasons, that sustainable practices and soil-based agriculture are part of what organic means.

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