Novato Live Well Network: Growing a Healthy Community from the Ground Up!

(415) 897-2302

Novato Live Well Network
P.O. Box 1647
Novato, CA 94948-1647


THE VISION of the Novato Live Well Network is to build a healthy, sustainable community where people from diverse backgrounds come together to reconnect with the land, procure, grow, and preserve food in a sustainable manner for themselves and others, and cultivate a truly integrated community. We define sustainability as, "meeting the needs of all people "without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations." (Source: Worldwatch Institute)

THE MISSION of the Novato Live Well Network is to: build and support a network of local community gardens that enable people from diverse backgrounds to grow food and foster community in a sustainable manner; work with and educate families, schools, and our community about the positive benefits of choosing sustainable ways of eating, gardening and living by providing programs that support nutrition education, our local food-shed, school and community gardens, and sustainable living practices.

Veronica Valero, ED & Garden Chair – Veronica has been a resident of Novato since 1996. Health and wellness issues have always been important to Veronica. But, after her brother's death at age 44 of a rare sarcoma cancer (Ewing's Sarcoma/PNET) that is usually found in children, Veronica became a passionate volunteer health advocate as a way to "do something about it" in hopes that her son and all children and their families would never have to experience cancer or other such life threatening illnesses. Since 2003 she has advocated for healthier food choices for children and their families in the schools and community at large. She founded the Novato Healthy Food Coalition that had successful letter writing campaigns to bring Whole Foods and Trader Joes to Novato. Veronica is a founding member and Executive Director of the Novato Live Well Network. She is a 2006 graduate of Novato Chamber of Commerce's "Leadership Novato" Program and recipient of the "Leadership Novato" Ed Stark Award. She has taken courses at College of Marin on gardening and ecology, including the first class offering of the course, Principles and Practices or Organic Farming and Gardening. Veronica initiated the Novato Community Garden Project with Karen Losee. When she is not volunteering, Veronica is "The Computer Tutor of Marin"—a one-on-one computer tutor/consultant. Veronica has an M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

David Selzer David’s interest in nature started when he was growing up in Santa Cruz along the San Lorenzo River. He studied Limnology (freshwater ecology) at UC Davis and Washington State, served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, and then went on to teach middle-school math and science in the Imperial Valley, San Francisco, and then for 17-years in Mill Valley. David’s passion embraces both healthy ecosystems and human communities, which is what led him to take the SPAWN Naturalist Training Program, just before he retired. He quickly became inspired by fellow volunteers in the program who cared about the salmon and streams but who also took a more holistic, watershed perspective to conservation. In addition to leading Creekwalks for the public and students in the winter he also has acted as the Volunteer Creekwalk Coordinator.

Dietrich Stroeh - “Diet” is one of the founding partners of CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group, Inc. (’s primary focus is on the planning, design and management of water and sanitary sewer distribution systems, including on-site waste disposal systems. He is also experienced in hydrology, hydraulics design, small dam design, contract negotiations, construction management. He is thoroughly familiar with the engineering, institutional, economic, planning and environmental aspects of water resource management. The majority of Diet’s early professional expertise comes from working for Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) for 20 years, finishing the last 6 years of his career there as General Manager. Under his management, MMWD developed a major new in-County water supply and implemented a comprehensive water management plan, including conservation education. Diet was also instrumental in achieving a record in County-wide water conservation during the 1976-1977 drought. His experiences during that time are the basis of a published book, The Man Who Made it Rain by Michael McCarthy. Diet is a graduate of the University of Nevada and received a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. He is active in many community and professional organizations and currently serves as a Director of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District

Charlotte Torgovitsky is a naturalist, educator, and garden consultant who has lived with her family  in Novato for most of the last 27 years. An organic gardener since 1975, she is currently developing her own two acre property; working in a sustainable and resourceful way with native soils and plants to create gardens that provide for the human caretakers as well as sanctuary for wildlife. Working in collaboration with the Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program and Marin Municipal Water District, Charlotte helped found the Eco-Friendly Garden Tours, now in its fifth year. As Garden Education and Outreach Manager at the Marin Art and Garden Center from 2001 to 2009 she created and developed California native gardens, a plant nursery and composting demonstration site. These facilities were used to teach hands-on courses in Bay-Friendly gardening, home composting and plant propagation. In addition, Charlotte collaborated with numerous other organizations to create curriculum and programs for elementary school field trips, high school community service and college internships. As an educator Charlotte teaches Wildlife Friendly Gardening and Home Composting courses at the College of Marin, Adult Community Education.  She also teaches Bay-Friendly gardening classes, and has been invited to lecture on these subjects at Sonoma State Sustainable Landscaping program, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Tilden Regional Parks, and numerous bay area garden clubs.

Donna West, RN - grew up gardening with her Mom and Grandfather and has fond memories of enjoying fresh-picked strawberries, peas, and tomatoes from the family garden. Donna is a Novato resident who has worked as a Public Health Nurse with children, families, and caregivers in Marin for the past 15 years. Increasingly, this work has focused on addressing the childhood obesity epidemic by creating environments which promote healthy behaviors. Supporting the development of early childhood gardens and intergenerational garden experiences has been an important aspect of this effort. Donna’s participation in the Novato Community Garden project allows her to blend her lifelong passions for growing food and healthy communities.

Vicky Meblin Vicky's business experience includes marketing and public relations, exhibiting at trade shows/business conferences, coordinating sales seminars & other events, managing client databases, and writing and editing marketing collateral. Vicky has two children in the Novato Unified School District. She was the Pleasant Valley Elementary Volunteer Coordinator for Marin County School Volunteers. Vicky is a founding board member of the Novato Live Well Network. She played an instrumental role starting the NLWN Lunch Buddy program as a volunteer and food advocate. Vicky work experience with youth continued at her employment at the Novato Youth Center. Currently she works for the Novato Unified School District in the NOVA Program.

THANK YOU TO OUR FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS: Miguel Villarreal, Barb Curtice, Norma Eckert, Heidi Kertel, Annie Spiegelman, Vicky Meblin, Veronica Valero. Your vision, dedication, and creativity have made positive change here in Novato and beyond.

Our organization grew out of two events: (1) The Lunch Buddies program developed by Veronica Valero, a volunteer parent, and Miguel Villarreal, Director of Food and Nutrition Services (FANS) for the NUSD, and (2) the 2006 Novato Eat Well Festival put on through the collaboration of the Lunch Buddies parents, community volunteers, FANS Staff, and the Marin Food Systems Project of the Environmental Education Council of Marin. The collaboration, synergy, and experience complemented and expanded our personal visions so much so that we decided to form the Novato Live Well Network (NLWN) to share our vision and goals with others.