Member Spotlight: Marty Kleiner
1. What is your/family member name(s), your garden bed address the date you joined Vista Garden?
Hi, I am Marty Kleiner and my wife is Laurie. We are in 6 Berry Boulevard. Laurie and I joined Vista Gardens a little over two years ago. Laurie and I have two daughters, Jodi and Jennifer. Jodi is an electrical engineer and works on the wind turbines for Siemens in Orlando. Jennifer is an occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics Lakeland. Laurie is a National Board Certified teacher and teaches high school reading at DC Waters Career Center. I am a retired engineer and cofounded several hi-tech companies in Tampa.
2. What interested you in starting your garden (ie. love of outdoors, organic gardening, great workout, etc?
Laurie and I were at the Community Market and saw the booth for VISTA Gardens. I was recently retired and looking for something to stay active. We lived in Carrollwood Village for about ten years and only knew a few neighbors. At first, I had neither interest nor knowledge of gardening but thought it would be a great way to stay busy and meet new people. Well, it worked. The garden provides a great environment to stay busy, get exercise, meet new people, and grow our own food too. Before I joined VISTA Gardens, I assumed vegetables were grown at Publix.
3. What do you like to grow? What are your "go to" plants?
We grow kale, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, peppers, radishes, onions, and Swiss chard. This year we are trying something new. We are continuously planting new seeds and always have new seedlings to plant. If something is not growing, we take it out and put in a new plant.
4. What's your favorite activity/time of day at the garden?
Since I don't work, I am usually at VISTA Gardens in the morning. If I am not in a rush, I usually try to stop in when I drive by if I see someone there just to say hello. I don't know if you can call it a favorite activity, but I have become an expert at eradicating the beds of torpedo grass.
5. What is one thing you'd like us to know about you?
People ask me all the time why I spend so much time working at VISTA garden. The answer is simple, it is because I can.
It wasn't long ago that my daughter came home from the University of Florida for the summer and encouraged me to go for a walk in the neighborhood. I was afraid to go alone because I thought I wouldn't make it back home without passing out. It took about a month to get up to a mile but I persevered and did it. It wasn't too long afterwards that Laurie and I were walking about a mile and a half to Chili's. Then we started riding our bicycles for longer and longer rides.
This all sounds fairly easy, but when you are carrying around about 300 pounds and have high blood pressure and high cholesterol it is a big deal. It is hard to get up to do anything except to change the channel. I had been on all the fad diets and even went to a dietitian. I lost weight, tons of it. Each time though I put on more than I lost.
A little over four years ago I started learning about things like sugar, unbleached white flour, and corn syrup. The more I learned the more that I realized these were poison for me. So, I cut them out of my diet. I also realized that I very rarely ate vegetables except starchy ones. I started to eat salads - lots of it. I remember that when I first started eating huge salads my jaw muscles would actually be sore from chewing so much. I couldn't understand what was on the ingredients label on fat-free dressings so I just used olive oil. This seemed to work for me and the fat started melting away. The more success I had the more that I learned about food and nutrition. My whole attitude and life style began to change.
VISTA Gardens was and is still instrumental in my mental transformation. Being around the vegetables that we grow ourselves enhances the healthy attitude. I lost 100 pounds and I am one of the very few people that have kept it off for over three years. I no longer take medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I can easily walk the mile now; some of you may have seen me on my four-mile run through the neighborhood or riding my bicycle. Most important, I am a lot healthier for my wife and my children.
Mowing the lawn at VISTA Gardens, digging up torpedo grass, weeding, installing the drainage ditch is all part of my exercise routine now. Come join me at the garden for a work out!