Nan Sterman

» Botany, Plant Science (9)
» Garden Design (67)
» Organic, Sustainable (61)
» Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs (48)
» Water-Wise Gardening (28)


PO Box 231034 Encinitas, California 92023

Looking for a dynamic speaker on waterwise, edible, and sustainable gardening? Nan Sterman will inspire your group of hobbyists or professionals, with a customized talk, demonstration, or hands-on workshop that will change the way they garden.


w: A Growing Passion TV show


Additional Information

Download Nan's most recent list of talks, demonstrations, and hands-on workshop topics.


California native Nan Sterman is an award-winning garden communicator, gardening expert, designer, and garden coach who lives in San Diego County, California.
Nan is dedicated to the transformation of planted landscapes from overly thirsty and resource intensive to climate appropriate and sustainable. This has been her  goal since the 1970s, when she was involved in the first wave of what we now refer to as the sustainability movement.

Her early training came from non-profits that worked in the arena of organic food and food justice, as well as from the Integral Urban House, a demonstration retrofit Victorian home operated by the Farallones Institute in Berkeley, California.

Nan parlayed those early experiences to address modern day issues. She is author of California Gardener’s Guide vol II, the only book about low-water and Mediterranean climate gardens written specifically for California home gardeners. She teaches and writes about sustainable gardening and vegetable gardening, both of which she does in backyards, front yards, and school gardens.

Nan’s communications work includes articles in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Sunset, and Organic Gardening. She is a frequent garden guest on San Diego public radio’s These Days talk show.

Nan Sterman’s latest project is A Growing Passion TV show, which takes viewers into their own backyards to see how to create beautiful, welcoming spaces using plants and products that are achievable, affordable, attractive, and in tune with the natural environment.

Nan is an advisor to the San Diego County Water Authority, sits on the Invasive Plant Committee for the City of Encinitas, and coordinates a 5,000 square foot garden for her children’s school. Nan chairs the annual Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour , and is a  board member of the Garden Writer’s Association.

Read what audience members say about Nan's talks.


Drip is Hip

Drip irrigation is hip.  More than that, drip irrigation works extremely well and saves water, one of the main goals of sustainable gardens. 

Traditional overhead spray systems are huge water waters. In fact, half of the water that comes out of a sprayhead is wasted!   So, why is spraying water into the air acceptable as an appropriate way to get water to where plants need it at their roots?

Drip irrigation, on the other hand, puts water directly onto the ground, at the rootball, where it is needed and keeps fertilizers, pesticides, and pollutant-laced runoff out of our waterways.

Older drip irrigation systems were a maze of parts and pieces that blew apart, fell apart, and otherwise broke. Newer technologies are entirely different.

In this presentation, Nan will show the best of new irrigation technologies, their basic parts and pieces, how easy they are to install and maintain, and where to learn more about them.  She will discuss specific irrigation situations (vegetable gardens vs ornamental gardens, slopes, mixed plantings, etc) and how to address them as well.

1- hour demonstration or PowerPoint presentation 

Cool Tools to Save Water in Your Garden

As water becomes more precious, the clever people who make garden tools and devices have created all kinds of products to help us save water in the garden.  There are “smart” irrigation controllers and timers that automatically turn the hose off when you forget.  There are water releasing gels, shutoff valves, drip irrigation systems, and more.  This presentation will introduce the audience to a wide range of water saving garden products, how to use them, and how they help conserve water in the out of doors.

1-hour demonstration

Incredible!  Edible, Waterwise, and Beautiful

It seems ironic that in the time we become more interested in growing our own food, we also become more and more aware of how limited our water resources are. Growing food and saving water sound like they work against each other, but in home gardens, that isn't necessarily the case!

This talk covers:

  • The most water efficient ways to grow traditional, water-loving vegetables, herbs, and fruits.
  • Low-water vegetables, herbs and fruits to grow, some you know and some that may come as a surprise.
  • How to integrate low-water edibles in a beautiful way.

Edible, beautiful, and water-wise  -- what more can a gardener ask for!

1-hour PowerPoint presentation


Southern California, West Coast, Southwest, available to travel to any area.

Photo Gallery



Audience Reviews

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Wonderful Speaker with Great Ideas

MaryJo Lusnak from Longmont, CO - 03/19/2021 18:48:37

I really enjoyed Nan's one-hour talk on design concepts. She had some great ideas on how to get more color in your garden. There were lots of photos to illustrate her concepts.

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Great speaker

Jodell Stetson from Loveland - 03/06/2021 12:17:37


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Terrific Talk!

Eowyn Bates from San Diego - 10/09/2019 18:15:18

Nan spoke at the San Diego Natural History Museum in September 2019 and did a terrific job. She customized her talk to focus on native plants and was clear, helpful, and entertaining. The information she presented was practical and inspiring.