Food Exploration and Discovery (DBA: Food ED) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization collaborating with San Gabriel Valley communities and schools to construct and sustain edible education sites hosting programs on ecosystem stewardship, healthy living, and environmental innovation and entrepreneurship. Our mission is to create programs that utilize gardens to inspire community building, problem solving, and stewardship rather than just growing food. We reimagine school and community gardens alongside our partners. We want to integrate holistic learning and STEAM education as well as innovative entrepreneurship programs in a dynamic way across K-12 education. We desire to incorporate the community-at-large into the work by opening the gardens to families and community members to learn about environmental stewardship, eco-justice, and healthy living practices through gardening, nature, and cooking workshops.
Founder & Executive Director
Kristin Ritzau, PhD
For 15 years, Kristin’s life has revolved around urban agriculture and education. She helped found the Monrovia Community Garden and most recently was the Director of Sustainable Edible Education at California Lutheran University. She has degrees in Leadership Studies and completed her PhD in Religion, Education, and Ecology where she studied female farmers around the U.S. Having spoke and presented her research at national conferences and taught for over a decade, she now finds herself partnering in her local community to bring together neighbors to collaborate and innovate in exciting ways.
Eco-sustainability Lead Fellow
& Garden Educator
Filled with a need to serve others, Robyn pursued a B.A. in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. She continued her hospitality journey in Denver managing banquet events. Robyn wanted to resume her educational curiosities by taking classes at Pasadena City College where she discovered her love for plants. She shared her enthusiasm for plants by volunteering at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Robyn joined the Monrovia Community Garden leadership team, and once a position opened through Americorps, she was able to continue her garden learning and teaching with Food ED. When she is not in the garden, Robyn is playing soccer, snowboarding or adventuring with her dog Jackson.
Community Sustainability Fellow & Garden Educator
Feeling a growing conviction to enter the fight against climate change, Jennifer was glad to discover California Climate Action Corps and Food ED. She is dedicated to helping San Gabriel Valley communities become more sustainable and resilient through gardens and green spaces. Continuing a career that has ranged from engineering to client advocacy, she is particularly interested in how cities partner with community members and organizations to build healthy ecosystems and sustainable infrastructure. She is a budding gardener and has a growing appreciation for bugs.
Education & Garden
Lifelong Monrovian, “Gio” is a Master Gardener, Master Herpetologist, California Rare Fruit Tree member, certified California Naturalist, and Certified Climate Steward. His background includes creating and designing creative curriculum that meets NGSS standards and educating all ages about soil and plants. His studies include published work on representations of animals throughout history and his Master of Library and Information Science degree focused on botanical libraries. An avid gardener and community scientist, he is constantly experimenting with new heirloom varieties, and working to identify microbial life in soil.
Rachael van der Molen
Rachael’s experience has always been one of supporting the vulnerable and volunteering at local schools, but now she is putting her full skillset to use engaging with social media, building awareness campaigns, volunteer opportunities, and building our infrastructure to have larger volunteer days. Rachael’s experience with vulnerable populations assures that our work at Food ED will always take into account accessibility and access. She has experience as a community liaison to organizations to do education and community outreach and is only building on that at Food ED.
Fellow & Garden Educator
Having grown up in Monrovia and attending Monrovia public schools, Kelly's desire is to give back to her community. Having volunteered with Food ED in the past, she is now a Climate Change Corps fellow with Food ED activating her heart for service. She is also pursuing her bachelor’s degree in accounting and hopes to become a CPA with a focus in nonprofit accounting. On her days off she enjoys painting, hanging out with her pets, and listening to Taylor Swift.
Board of Directors
Retired Deputy Director of Nutrition Services, WIC
Founder & Executive Director,
Coffee on Leadership
Founder and CEO