Sustainable Agriculture Faculty & Staff


Dr. Rebecca Harbut

Faculty, Sustainable Agriculture

Fruit Production, Plant Physiology, Crop Ecology

Rebecca Harbut grew up in British Columbia and joined KPU in 2013.  Rebecca received both her BSc and MS degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario and then completed her PhD in Horticulture at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where she conducted research on fruit crops. Prior to joining KPU, Rebecca was a faculty member in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin where she was the state fruit crop extension specialist and led the fruit crops research lab and extension program.

Rebecca is interested in organic fruit production and the integration of perennial fruit crops in diversified cropping systems.  She is also dedicated to working with community groups, and K-12 schools in developing increased awareness and understanding of sustainable food systems and the importance of agriculture in our communities.

Email: | Tel: 604-599-2568

Mike BomfordDr. Michael Bomford

Faculty, Sustainable Agriculture

Organic Farming, Agriculture and Energy, Ecologically-Based Pest Management, Bog Restoration

Mike Bomford has taught in KPU's Sustainable Agriculture program since 2014. Before returning to BC, he spent 10 years at Kentucky State University (KSU), leading research, extension, and teaching programs related to organic agriculture, with an emphasis on small farms. He completed his PhD at West Virginia University, conducting companion planting research on a newly-certified organic farm. He grew up the son of a District Agriculturalist among the expansive grain farms of BC's Peace River region and earned degrees in plant science and agricultural pest management at UBC and SFU.

Mike is very interested in the intersection between food and energy. He has explored energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming and food systems, and experimented with renewable energy production techniques for small farms. His teaching responsibilities at KPU include the senior series in Agroecosystem Management, and courses in Vegetable Production, Ecologically-Based Pest Management, and Agriculture and Energy. He guides a full-year series of Research courses for senior students, and teaches a graduate course in Food Systems and the Environment.

Coming to Richmond inspired Mike's recent passion for bogs and wetlands. He is trying to learn about bog ecosystems in order to help restore the bog at the Garden City Lands.

Email: | Tel: 604-599-2531

Alex LyonDr. Alex Lyon

Faculty, Sustainable Agriculture

Seeds and Plant Breeding, Agrobiodiversity, Sociology of Agriculture

Alexandra (Alex) Lyon joined KPU in 2020. Her interests in agriculture and the environment developed at an early age during a childhood surrounded by organic and conventional fruit production in Southern California. Her academic training has focused on the intersection of ecology, society, and food production, spanning natural and social sciences. She completed her M.S. in Agroecology and Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with a network of farmers and researchers across the United States to improve plant breeding and seed security for organic farming systems. Moving to Canada in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Fellow at UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Alex continued to lead community-based research to expand the capacity and resilience of regional seed systems.

As a faculty member at KPU, Alex teaches on topics including the history of agriculture, transitions to sustainable food systems, and agroecology as a social movement.  She also supervises students in their independent internships and co-teaches the Agroecosystems Management series at the KPU Farm. She is passionate about engaging students in discovering the importance of seeds and crop diversity in agroecosystems, and awakening students’ capacity to engage in systemic change for sustainable futures. She also works to expand the KPU Seed Program, collaborating with community partners to support BC’s emerging seed sector.

Email: | Tel: 604-599-2574

Tara ImmellTara Immell

Faculty, Sustainable Agriculture

Farm Business Management

Tara Immell is a financial risk manager focused on urban agriculture, agri-food businesses, and waste reduction. She teaches finance with an emphasis on sustainability. When not teaching, Tara can be found growing or preserving food.

Tara remembers exactly when she first heard about our Earth having planetary boundaries and has focused her career on more sustainable ways of doing business ever since. She went back to school in 2015 to study urban agriculture and has been working with British Columbia farmers ever since. As the general manager of farmers’ markets in Burnaby, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver, Tara helped hundreds of small businesses get started selling local products. At the Food Systems Lab at Simon Fraser University, Tara conducted research into reducing food waste. For Cleanfarms, Tara interviewed farmers in Northern B.C. about their plastic waste. Reducing waste is her current emphasis on Tara is now serving on the Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Management Public/Technical Advisory Committee.

Tara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Computer Science from Northwestern University, a Master of Agriculture from Colorado State University, and is a current PhD student of Mathematics Education at Simon Fraser University.


Akshit PuriDr. Akshit Puri

Sessional Instructor, Sustainable Agriculture

Soil Science, Sustainable Soil Management, Soil Biodiversity

Dr. Akshit Puri is a soil scientist with interests in fundamental aspects of soils, sustainable soil management, and soil biodiversity. He has experience teaching courses related to general soil science, plant nutrition, soil ecology, environmental microbiology, and circular bioeconomy. He is passionate about conveying soil science knowledge to the next generation of professionals to assist them in tackling the challenges of contemporary land management. His research expertise lies in soil biology, plant-microbe interactions and nitrogen cycling in diverse ecosystems including natural forests and grasslands, managed agricultural systems, and anthropogenically disturbed environments. He is also interested in comprehensively studying the interlinkages between belowground communities and soil physical and chemical properties, with the ultimate goal of improving soil health.

Before joining KPU, Dr. Puri was an Assistant Professor in Environmental and Applied Microbiology at the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Ireland. He completed his PhD degree in Soil Science from the University of British Columbia in 2020 working on evaluating the role of plant-beneficial bacteria in supporting the growth of conifer trees in disturbed environments. He also obtained his MSc degree in Soil Science from the University of British Columbia in 2015. As a graduate student at UBC, he contributed to the delivery of a variety of courses related to introductory soil science, soil processes, soil biology, soils and the global environment, forest land management, and land, food and community in his role as a Teaching Assistant and Guest Lecturer.


Sahar ZandiehSahar Zandieh

Instructional Associate, Sustainable Agriculture

Sahar Zandieh joined KPU in 2023. Working at the intersection of agriculture and education, Sahar supports day-to-day operations and student engagement at the KPU Farm. She works closely with undergraduate students in the Agroecosystems Management and Research series. 


An early interest in international development led Sahar to explore relationships between food, agriculture, and well-being by completing a BSc in Applied Biology at UBC, majoring in Food & Environment. She went on to work at UBC’s Center for Sustainable Food Systems and the Environmental Youth Alliance. These positions allowed her to engage with vegetable, flower, and seed production systems adapted to small-scale organic farms, and to advance ecological restoration with native species.

Sahar has taught students of all ages through place-based learning and food production.  She is eager to continue learning the history of this land, and to build rich relationships with the people, plants, and other organisms around us.


Alex BissetAlex Bisset

Outreach Coordinator, Sustainable Agriculture

Alex Bisset is an alumna of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainable Agriculture Program, which she graduated from in April of 2022. Alex is interested in urban farming education and how this contributes positively to our communities, which led her to volunteer with organizations such as the Growing Chefs Society, Fresh Roots, and the Astoria Urban Farm. After completion of her degree, Alex worked as a farm assistant and later as the field trial manager at the KPU Teaching and Research Farm. In May of 2023, Alex was offered an opportunity to work at the KPU Teaching and Research Farm as the Outreach Coordinator. This position allows her to pursue public outreach and help connect the surrounding Richmond community with accessible information about growing food. Alex is running the volunteer program at the farm and establishing many exciting projects, including a project to extend the size of the learning garden for kids' camps and other educational activities.

Email: | Tel: 604-377-5037