Thursday, September 27, 2018

An Interview with and Tribute to Nancy aka "Farmer Jones" of Alta Vista Botanical Gardens

Nancy, tell me a little about yourself, your background and how you came to work with Alta Vista Botanical Gardens.

I was born in San Diego and raised in Lemon Grove, attended UCSB (with a year in Germany) and earned my teaching credential at SDSU.  I finished my MA in Special Education in 1979. Don and I have been married since 1974; our two sons grew up in North County and have graduated from UCSD and UCLA respectively.  After 28 years in the classroom, I retired from teaching elementary school in Vista Unified in 2006.  I was asked to come to AVBG to help start their Children’s Garden in 2008, I joined the AVBG Board, and “Farmer Jones” ended up as Chairman of the Committee.  We ran a contest to name the Children’s Garden and chose “Bugs, Birds, and Butterflies.” In addition to the existing small Earth Day Festival, we added the Fall Fun Festival in 2009 and are celebrating our TENTH FFF on October 20 this year.  It’s a great experience – creating scarecrows, bobbing for apples, decorating punkins, making crafts, and enjoying the ambience of the Gardens.  Vendors, food, and a plant sale are all part of the Fall Fun Festival experience.  Many student and adult volunteers – and our dedicated Board members – make it a super day!

About how many kids do you filter through your program each year and what brings you the biggest joy working with kids and in the gardens?

After our first FFF in 2009, we started monthly Kids in the Garden classes and still offer them on the second Saturday of the month from 10 am to noon for a low $5 fee; these classes are free for family members.  The schedule is listed on the AVBG website .  We also offer field trips for students in local elementary and middle schools, as well as homeschool groups.  We have served 4000 kids in ten years of Kids in the Garden and field trips.  My greatest joy is seeing kids relax, open up, hike to the bottom of the hill and back up, and make discoveries out in nature.

What are your hopes for the future with your program?
I hope that kids and their parents will become more familiar and comfortable in the outdoors, and appreciate the beauty and tranquility of nature.  There’s a BIG beautiful world out there and experiencing it first-hand is a million times better than on an electronic device!  We will continue to offer outdoor experiences and hope to expand programs as more teachers and families discover the Hidden Gem that is Alta Vista Botanical Gardens!

I see you also work with The Woman's Club of Vista. What does that program do in the community and how can someone become involved if they wish?

Membership in The Woman’s Club of Vista GFWC is open to all – women and men! I served as President from 2013-2017 and currently serve as Treasurer.  Our Club is 102 years old and we’re growing with active members who are ready to volunteer!  We work on projects with organizations in the community (such as AVBG, Operation HOPE-Vista, Women’s Resource Center, Gently Hugged, Rancho Buena Vista Adobe, Alabaster Jar, and many others), and we donate supplies and food. We celebrate our Donation Day every May when we donate to organizations suggested and supported by our members.  In June we award scholarships to students graduating from six Vista schools.  Our busy Club has won awards for our projects from our international Federation.  The Club’s website is .  Contact information is in the newsletter which is posted on the website.  All are welcome to visit and join!

What city do you reside in, and what do you love about it?

We have lived in rural Vista since 1987, and we love the open spaces and parks for hiking and nature experiences.  I love the people I am privileged to work with – curious kids, caring parents, and devoted volunteers.  It’s small-town Vista every day, with many opportunities to grow and serve – which is how I fill my days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Rancho Buena Vista Adobe Tours

Rancho Buena Vista Adobe, located at 640 Alta Vista Drive (across from the Civic Center) is a beautiful, fascinating, historical adobe dating back to 1845 that has been preserved for your viewing pleasure by the city of Vista. In fact, if this adobe had not been built, the city of Vista as we know it would not be established today as the surrounding area was built around it to support its function!  Learn about the history of the adobe and the many families that lived in it, as well as what life looked like on this homestead. Also onsite are a lovely gift shop and art gallery with rotating presentations.

Tours are provided for a nominal fee on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 10am and 3pm (last tour starts at 2:15).  Guided tours are also available. Admission: Adults $4, Seniors $3, Students $1 and children 12 and under .50.  The adobe also has field trip opportunities for local schools as well as summer programs. Different events are held on the grounds throughout the year and it is also available for wedding and special occasion rentals.  What a beautiful backdrop it is!  If spooky is your thing, join in the Spirits of The Adobe tours ($25) that take place select evenings once a month. For more on that, call 760-643-5275.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Carla and Linda's Walking Food Tours (Both Vista and Oceanside Tours Available)

Boy did I have a fun afternoon on my first ever walking food tour! I recently went on the maiden voyage of Carla and Linda's Walking Food Tours NEW Vista tour with a group of wonderful food-loving people. We started our tour at Starbucks in the village where we all assembled and introduced ourselves. Our first stop was Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern & Grill, where after a brief walk we enjoyed crispy plantains topped with pit-roasted mojo pork and dressed with cilantro, citrus sauce and me so honey cream. Next visit was Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen for house-made pasta with veggies, sausage, micro greens and a carrot reduction sauce. Next we looped around to When Pigs Fly BBQ for a smoked rib with slaw. We finished our tour by walking back to Little Cakes Cupcake Kitchen to indulge in our choice of cupcake. I selected chocolate peanut butter and it was divine. 

All along the tour we were blessed to be able to chat with the chefs and owners/operators and find out more about them, their food and restaurants. While on the walking portion of the tour Linda told us great little facts about different pieces of art and businesses along the way. One of the fun things about these tours is that ahead of time we have no idea what we will be served. We just show up and enjoy!

I highly recommend this experience and you might want to know that they have an established Oceanside tour as well. I definitely plan to do this again in the future. Find out more at

Friday, September 14, 2018

More on Artisan Shop Lotus Moon Market- New to Downtown, Historic Vista

I thought I would introduce you to the talented and delightful Sophia, owner of Lotus Moon Market that just moved to 347 Main St in downtown, historic Vista, and help you get to know her and her mission.

Tell me about yourself Sophia: I grew up Navy and was raised in a small town an hour west of Seattle. I went to college at the Art Institute of Phoenix, worked full time as a Graphic Designer, and finally moved to Vista in 2015!

How and when did you get started with Lotus Moon Market? I started off making crystal jewelry (Sup Goods) as a part time gig while I worked full time; I did street fairs and local markets throughout Phoenix and carried it over when I moved to California. I was a vendor at local street fairs and even did a few in Temecula. Along the way I've met so many talented artisans that I thought it would be nice to have a shop dedicated to makers (for those who have missed the markets).

At the end of January 2018, the company I was working for closed and laid everyone off. That's when I decided to make Lotus Moon Market come to life! It's funny because the universe really works in mysterious ways! I had this makers market shop in the back of my head for probably over a year before I actually made it happen. I even had my logo and name drawn out already!

What is your goal for the store and what are your future plans?
90% of the shop is handmade. I work with a lot of local artisans (around the US) and work with global artisans as well. The global artisans are all fair trade meaning they get a fair wage for their creations living in underdeveloped environments so that they are able to sustain jobs feed their families and communities. That's really important to me. My goal is to help small businesses and artisans by showcasing their hand made creations.

The future of Lotus Moon Market has so much potential, especially in this new amazing location. I really want to really bring in the community. I eventually want to host workshops to learn how to make macrame, jewelry, essential oil rollers, etc. I'd like to host events like plant swaps, maybe have a farmers market type thing a couple times a month. So many possibilities! 

Why Vista and what do you love about the city?
I chose a location in Vista because I live here! I also think there is a need for a handmade focused shop here. I've seen similar stores in the coastal cities, but nothing in Vista (or not to my knowledge) I have been a vendor of the Vista Vintage Makers Market multiple times (now Artifact), Vista Night Out, Winter fest, and Alley Art Festivals so I know there is a market here. There is so much talent and art in Vista and I am thrilled to be located here.

More about San Diego Botanic Garden (Encinitas)

Can we talk for a moment or two about one of my favorite places in San Diego County, San Diego Botanic Garden?  Did you know that they were recently named one of the top 10 gardens worth traveling for in North America?  WOW! You might want to know that they have been around since the 1940's. It's a 37-acre "botanic wonderland" that features zonal plantings from all over the world, beautiful waterfalls, rotating sculpture gardens and a special Children's Garden with plans to build an educational center.  No doubt plants cultivated at the very beginning are still thriving. Did you know that some of these plants have lives that will outlive the average human, and then some?  It's truly amazing that this garden grows and develops with the decades that pass. Almost every time you visit, something will be new and different. For the last 24 years, Julian Duval has been at the helm serving as president and CEO. Julian has done tremendous, great work but is now retiring and passing the baton to Ari Novi.The two will work together through the transition.

San Diego Botanic Garden hosts a plethora of fun, festive and educational events throughout the year and you will be happy to know that if you are a San Diego County resident, you get free entry to the park every first Tuesday of the month. There is a small parking fee, but it is waived if you have four or more in your car.

Regular pricing is $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and active military and $10 for kids 3-18.  The garden is opening 9-5 daily except for Christmas.