Instructors and Board Members

PPI Board Members and Instructors

Board Members
Beverly Axelsen
Michele Evans
Adele Field
Mona Lewis
Cessie Wafer
Zachary Weiss

Kari King
Becky Owens

Guest Instructors and Speakers
Kristine Backes
Cheryl Moore-Gough
Christopher Borton
Kareen Erbe
Greg Johnson, Montana Ponds

PPI Board

Beverly Axelsen Photo
Beverly Axelsen, Secretary, Instructor
Herbalist, Instructor of Plant Medicine and Herb Classes, and Habilitation Services Specialist at Counter Point. Bev became passionately interested in medicinal plants fifteen years ago after finding Echinacea Angustifolia growing on her family ranch in eastern Montana. Many great teachers have influenced her over the years; the most respected and knowledgeable being the plants themselves. She has studied in the mountains and prairies of Montana, the jungles of Belize, Costa Rica and in Bali. As a teacher and guide for others Bev promotes direct experience with plants.

Michele Evans photo
Michele Evans, Treasurer, Fundraising Committee, Instructor
Michele Evans is a Montana Master Gardener III and a bio-intensive farming instructor for Ecology Action, a world wide organization teaching the world’s poor how to feed themselves. Michele has been a Montana grower since 1978 and currently enjoys the challenge of growing all the food for her family in the Bangtail Mountains at 7300′. She and her husband have a business, Earth Wind and Fire, helping people become self sufficient by providing solar, wind and micro hydro power systems and alternative food production ideas. She has been studying soil mineral depletion and the bio-intensive method of soil production and enhancement for 10 years. Currently the U.S. loses about 6 lbs of soil for every pound of food produced, developing countries 12 lbs, and China 18 lbs. Bio-intensive has found a way to increase soil amounts while using no chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. Soil is Michele’s passion.

Adele Field, Paradise Permaculture Board
Adele Field, Board Member, Webmaster

Adele is a communicator, editor, and writer with over 30 years’ experience in publishing, marketing, advertising, theatre, and press relations. She holds degrees in Linguistics and Film/TV. Since 2008, she has telecommuted and/or consulted for companies in the high-tech, arts, environmental, and general business sectors across the U.S. When she discovered Permaculture in 2010, she became a passionate advocate for Permaculture Design. A resident of Melstone, MT, Adele is also a vintage trailer enthusiast, a grantwriter, Vice President of the Melstone Area Foundation, and Melstone Community Garden Coordinator.

Mona Lewis photo
Mona Lewis, President, Instructor
Founder of Paradise Permaculture Institute, a Montana Corporation for education of sustainable, edible gardens and landscapes. Mona is a certified instructor of Permaculture Design Consultant through two organizations; Midwest Permaculture and Gorgeous & Edible Landscapes.

Cessie Wafer, PPI board member, photo
Cessie Wafer, Board Member
Cessie has spent time working on ships in Alaska and hiking through the back country. In 2001 she moved to Yellowstone Park working through the seasons at Xanterra and the Mammouth Clinic. She helped to encourage others to compost and recycled on a large scale by snowmobile in the winter. In 2006 she became a residence coordinator for nine years. During Cessies’s time in Yellowstone she became a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation. She volunteered at the Heritage Research Center and Herbarium and spent many hours researching native plants.

Zach Weiss photo
Zachary Weiss, Vice President, Instructor
Protégé of legendary Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer, Zach is the first person to earn Sepp Holzer’s Practitioner Certification from North America. He blends a unique combination of systems thinking and empathy with action oriented process to improve clients’ relationships with their landscape. Harvesting the natural productivity over time becomes the aim with high initial input, high yield systems that last until the next ice age when done properly.  Learn more at and


Kari King
Kari King, Advisor
Kari King lives in Pony, Montana where she writes, reads poetry, plants garlic, works on a nascent permaculture project, hugs trees and generally stumbles around gobsmacked with gratitude.

Becky Owens, PPI Board member
Becky Owens, Advisor

Guest Instructors

Kristine Backes, Instructor: Medicinal Plants in the Kitchen
Kristine offers consultations, workshops and mentoring rooted in nature-based healing traditions. She loves to show people how to listen to their own wisdom by moving in closer harmony with nature. Kristine is a registered yoga teacher, holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership, and has studied Ayurveda and other traditional healing methods for over a decade.

Cheryl Moore-Gough
Cheryl Moore-Gough, Guest Speaker
Cheryl Moore-Gough holds a B.S. in Horticulture and an M.S. in Plant Sciences from Montana State University, where she retired as the Montana State Extension Horticulturist in 2008. While serving in that capacity, she instructed and coordinated the Montana Master Gardener program and co-authored its manual. She was the plant disease diagnostician in MSU’s Schutter Diagnostic Lab and is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor in horticulture at MSU, where she teaches Vegetable Production. Additionally, she has taught various undergraduate classes at MSU and has published numerous works alone and with her late husband, the well-known Robert “Dr. Bob” Gough. Together, they wrote in 2007 The Montana Gardener’s Companion, first edition; in 2010 Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Gardening, and in 2011 The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds. She is currently working on the second edition of The Montana Gardener’s Companion, scheduled to be published in 2015. Cheryl’s articles have been published in numerous magazines including Fine Gardening, Zone 4 Magazine, Montana Magazine, American Nurseryman, and Big Sky Small Acres. She has co-authored over 25 Montana Extension yard and garden informational MontGuides and Bulletins. Cheryl is an articulate and entertaining speaker, much in demand throughout the western United States.
Cheryl is also the technical horticulture editor for Zone 4 Magazine, and she produces and hosts the Northern News Network’s daily radio program, “Northern Gardening Tips,” carried by stations throughout Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Cheryl currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Montana nonprofit “Gallatin Valley Farm to School.” She has been gardening and saving seeds in the Gallatin Valley for over 40 years.
In addition to her horticultural pursuits, Cheryl holds a fourth degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido and is an instructor at the Bozeman, Montana dojo.

Christopher Borton
Christopher Borton, Instructor
Christopher Borton is the builder, director, and co-founder of Sage Mountain Center, an award winning off-grid educational facility promoting personal and environmental awareness. For over 20 years Sage Mountain Center has provided Montana with sustainable living education in everything from Straw Bale and Cordwood Building to Solar Electricity and Yoga.
A fourth generation builder, consultant, and teacher, Chris is currently on the board of directors of the Montana Renewable Energy Association (VP from 2003 -2012) and the board of the Montana Energy Education Council.
Classes: Mini Straw Bale Workshop
Contact: Christopher Borton
Sage Mountain Center
79 Sage Mountain Trail
Whitehall, MT 59759

Kareen Erbe
Kareen Erbe has been studying, practicing and teaching permaculture since 2006. After training under Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute, she founded Broken Ground, a permaculture education and edible garden design company in Bozeman. She has a Master Composter certification, has training in Ecology Action’s Grow Biointensive method and has worked and volunteered on numerous organic and permaculture farms in Australia, New Zealand, western Massachusetts and Montana.

Greg Johnson, Montana Ponds
Montana Ponds is locally owned and operated by Greg and Marnie Johnson. We pride ourselves in having the expertise to help you get the most enjoyment out of your water feature. This includes minimizing water loss, maximizing water health and increasing the sustainability of the water feature in the long term. Controlling algae and pond weeds, planting the right types and number of plants and providing adequate aeration are all things that are essential to the health of a pond. We provide consultations, once a year clean outs and weekly maintenance during the summer months. We also install pumps for spring startups then remove them and store them for the winter. This is a customized service and can be designed to meet your specific needs. We are a full scale design and construction company for water features, however big or small. From an ornamental, pondless waterfall to a full scale trout pond, we can help you add the enjoyment of having water on your property.