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.