About Us

Kate Frey

Kate grew up in Berkeley, California. Her father was a librarian at the University of California, Berkeley and he instilled a love of reading and literature. She began her career of working with plants and interest in nature as a seasonal employee with the State Forestry, Federal Forest Service and California State Park system, where she worked fighting fires, on timber crews and on trails. At Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland, Calif., where Kate worked for 20 years starting in 1986, she managed and designed the six-acre, profuse and colorful organic gardens, and vegetable production as well as extensive sustainable landscaping around the production facilities and the Bonterra Ranch.

In May 2003 her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in London won a silver/gilt medal, and in 2005 and 2007 her gardens illustrating many elements of biodiversity and sustainability in agricultural systems, won gold medals and were visited by Queen Elizabeth, many other members of the British Royal Family, and celebrities. In 2009 she competed in the World Garden Competition in Hamamatsu, Japan, and in 2011 in the Floria Garden Show in Malaysia.  She and her husband Ben consulted and worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on a Prince’s organic farm for two years. In 2009 to 2014 Kate directed  the Sonoma State University Sustainable Landscape Program.  Kate designed and managed the noted and prestigious pollinator garden, The Melissa Garden  and Lynmar Estate Winery (please see photos on this website).

Kate writes two gardening columns for the Press Democrat Newspaper.

Her book, The Bee-Friendly Garden, co-written with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn was published February, 2016 by Penguin Random House.

Kate earned a B.A. Summa Cum Laude with Distinction in English at Sonoma State University in 2006.

She currently works as a consultant, educator designer and a freelance writer, specializing in sustainable gardens and small farms that encourage biodiversity. She is a frequent and popular speaker for the University of California Master Gardener Programs, garden clubs, garden shows and horticultural groups.

Kate enjoys spending time with her grown children and grandchildren as well as writing, reading and traveling.

Ben Frey

Ben Frey is a rescuer of wood. Blackberry patches, burn piles and bone yards are favorite scouting grounds for rescue, to bring wood back to useful life, recreated into towers, tasting rooms, gates, furniture, bird houses and other items. Ben is the 10th of 12 children, and both parents were doctors. He began building with recycled materials at age eight when he helped his father and older brothers tear down Garrett Winery in Ukiah, California, to use the wood to build their own winery on the family ranch. His inspiration came from his father who converted a barn into their rustic house that included bits and pieces left over from table factories, Mendocino State Hospital, and burnt out redwood and oak stump and log furniture. At home and the winery nothing was purchased new, but was re-fabricated from old wineries, buildings and equipment.

Ben has spent 30 years rebuilding barns, wineries and old houses, and making rustic furniture and gates, transforming and reinterpreting the old, worn wood back into vital elements in the landscape.

He worked on the Bonterra ranch in the McNab valley, Jeriko Winery in Hopland, as well as building and remodeling many houses.

In 2003, 2005 and 2007, 2009 he built rustic furniture, towers and barns for gold medal winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show in London and the World Garden Competition in Hamamatsu, Japan.

He believes wood is a still living entity that can be transformed from one purpose into another functional element that expresses its organic past as a tree and its journey through the years with weather, lichen, livestock, woodpeckers and even rodents. He lives with his wife and their four dogs in a rustic house he built in Hopland, California and loves to spend time with their three grown children and grandkids.