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The Members

Who We Are

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Marcy Biller

Gardener

What is your favorite crop?

Carrots!  I love the beautiful colors of my rainbow mix crop!
How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

Vista Gardens is a peaceful place, close enough to my home, but far enough away to allow me to absorb the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.  Truly an escape from “the city”

What do you cook up with your harvest?

I try to use as much of the crop as possible.  I’ve made arugula and carrot top pesto and used the brassica leaves in stews.  But my husband and I munch on raw veggies the most.
What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

I have enjoyed learning that it’s okay for a crop to fail.  This also applies to life, doesn’t it?

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

I am a lifelong exerciser.  But I am non-committal to any particular type.  I have a home gym and belong to a gym.  I have a fake Peloton, but like riding outside.  I dislike running, but I would love to be a “runner”.  As long as I’m moving, I’m happy!

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Yvonne Scalise

Gardener

What is your favorite crop?

Beets, tomatoes and collards (because my husband loves collards!)
How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

There’s a calm about being surrounded by nature and its beauty.

What do you cook up with your harvest?

A favorite beet salad, Caprese salad, and collard green soup.
What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

The importance of composting.

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

Entertaining family and friends over a good meal.

Yvonne Scalise
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Nicole Jagusztyn

Gardener

What is your favorite crop?

Arugula. I love the fresh salads I make from my garden and incorporating arugula is a must!
How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

My life is so fast-paced and technology-centric. I am grateful for the quiet, peaceful time I spend tending to my garden.   

What do you cook up with your harvest?

Lots of greens! My weekend breakfast is curly kale and eggs. Dino kale and broccoli are dinner favorites. And I always have some sauerkraut fermenting on my countertop. 
What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

I try to focus on one element of gardening each year. This year, I have been focused on soil enrichment and fertilizers. As a result, I have barely used any fertilizer and focused on building my soil, and my current garden has been the best yet. 

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

I have a young son, so we like to explore new parks around the area for the hiking trails and playgrounds. 

Nicole
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Sanjay, Nathan, Mary

Gardeners

How long have you been a member?

We joined the community in time for the 2023 Fall growing season.
 

What is your favorite crop?

I don’t have a single favorite crop, but love growing a mixture of fresh vegetables. The variety is always the exciting part.

How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

Being in nature is always exciting. I have always enjoyed working with plants. It started in my younger days, when I worked in the garden and built a small nursery with my father. Being able to have the same experiences with my son and my wife is probably the best part of being at VISTA. Another thing I enjoy immensely is meeting new people and getting the opportunity to be part of the VISTA community.


What are your volunteer activities at VISTA?

I volunteer in the House of the Rising Seeds, which gives me a chance to learn about planting seasons, crops, as well as be able to grow seedlings we can all use.

 

What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

We keep learning from all the seasoned gardeners. I recently learned about liquid fish emulsion, trimming the tomato plants properly, what crops would be good to plant when.

Sanjay
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Donna & Richard

Gardeners

Where is your raised garden bed?

You'll find us on VISTA Gardens' map at CW5, a few beds southeast of the AARP gardens (DW7 and 8). Our garden has a tall, homemade, white trellis at one end.

 

How long have you been a member?

We’ve been members for 3 years.
 

What is your favorite crop?

Hands down, okra. But tomatoes and lettuce run a close second. We were tempted to answer compost because without it, the rest wouldn’t be worth mentioning.
 

How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

Our time at VISTA feeds our need for friendship with kind people who love working in God’s natural world, who love being with folks from every walk of life and who love to have fun. It also allows Richard to do some construction. He’s not great at it, but Marty is a great and patient teacher. We can’t thank everyone enough for the help you gave us during Donna’s down time.
 

What do you cook up with your harvest?

Okra -fried, in soups, in waffles, in salads, and in kosher- style shrimp (substitute chicken) gumbo. We’re southern.
 

What are your volunteer activities at VISTA?

We Chair the Flower Garden Committee and enjoy speaking about our flowers to visiting groups. Richard helped build the Cutting Flower Garden pergola and the planters and bench beneath it. Donna is the queen of weeding wherever the critters show their unwanted heads.

 

What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

We have learned how to prune tomato plants, that there are different kinds of soil emoluments, that you can’t protect tomatoes from a hard freeze, and that organic fertilizers like fish emulsion work better than synthetic kinds. 

DonnaRichard
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Tim Spearman

Gardener

What is your favorite crop?

The Aspabroc variety of broccoli and all cherry tomatoes.  Also, raising worms that create vermiculture for the garden!


How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

It helps me better connect with people and disconnect from work. 

 

What do you cook up with your harvest?

Salsa made with our cherry tomatoes and peppers. We eat a lot of salads and use our kale, mustard greens and lettuce. We also make pistachio or walnut parsley pesto for meat dishes. 

 

 

What are your volunteer activities at VISTA?

Previously, I picked up and composted material from the Community Food Pantry for the Compost Committee but had to suspend that due to a recent move.  Since then, I helped with construction of VISTA’s stalls to contain mulch and soil.

 

How long have you been a member?

I joined VISTA in time for the Fall 2023 growing season.

 

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

Kayaking in the mangroves and canoeing at the Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park.

Tim
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Beverly Stansell

Gardener

What is your favorite crop?

Greens!  Collards, mustard, Swiss chard, and kale.


How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

I enjoy the peaceful atmosphere in the garden when there is not a lot of activity going on.  A quiet place of calm in a chaotic world.

 

What do you cook up with your harvest?

I prepare the collards and mustard the way my mom did.  She was Canadian, but cooked for a Georgia boy (my dad), so she learned the Southern way.  The Swiss chard and kale I prepare the Sicilian way, with a little EVOO and garlic.

What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

I have learned about composting, soil preparation, fertilizer, and cover crops.

 

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

KayakinYoga, free weight exercises, hiking, travel, taking care of my 2 miniature schnauzers, membership in a philanthropic educational organization that provides scholarships for women, and attending various live entertainment venues.

Beverly Stansell
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Jane and Rick Jackson

Gardeners

What is your favorite crop?

1st Burgundy broccoli, 2nd tomatoes, 3rd carrots, 4th bush beans, 5th peas

 

How does your time at VISTA feed your soul?

We find comfort in knowing the garden is natural, giving us wholesome vegetables free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. The flowers, bees, birds, and butterflies are very special and offer many opportunities to photograph them in their natural habitat.

 

What do you cook up with your harvest?

We share our harvest with friends and family. They appreciate eating freshly-harvested vegetables and herbs that taste so true.

 

What new information/learning have you acquired as a result of gardening at VISTA?

We have absorbed so much about seasonal planting, soil management and amendment, crop thinning, watering, composting, and friendship. We cherish the advice from experienced gardeners.

 

What is your favorite social, exercise, or other non-gardening activity?

Meeting new people and photography.

Jane&Rick
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