2023 Meetings

General Meeting Information

Friday, April 14, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

Description: Coming Soon

Friday, March 10, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

“Starter Gardens Progressing Into Mature Gardens”—Victor Ortega, Co-founder and CEO of My Dragonfly Gardens. Victor retired in 2019 from a fast-paced career in marketing. His lifetime loves of being active, being outside, and of gardening led him, as an entrepreneur, to create My Dragonfly Gardens. Victor’s business consists of landscape/habitat design, permaculture models, installations, and maintenance, with zero footprint. They create natural habitats in residential settings using Florida-friendly and Florida native plants, so there is no need for chemicals and, when maintained properly, one never needs to purchase replacement plants! Social responsibility, sustainability, healthier environment, harmony, wildlife, and education represent their core values and govern everything they do -or don’t. Their practices are in harmony with nature and the environment while meeting clients’ needs and expectations.

“Native Florida Ferns”

—Dr. Carl Taylor, retired NSF Program Director and current researcher at The Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

Carl Taylor earned a B.S. from the U. of Missouri and a Ph.D. in botany from Southern Illinois U. At the Milwaukee Public Museum he developed exhibits, gave educational programs, conducted research, and served as Chair of the Botany Department. He authored the book “Arkansas Ferns and Fern Allies.” Carl has taught courses in general biology, plant taxonomy, and local flora at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Plant Systematics at Old Dominion University. For five years he served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Though retired, he still conducts botanical research at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and teaches in Maine each summer. He and his wife Jerry live in Arlington, Virginia, where they garden in their natural yard and greenhouse, and in The Villages In the
winter, where their small yard is completely Florida native plants.

We meet on the second Friday of the month. We have a half-hour social from 1:00 to 1:30. The meeting with announcements and speakers will begin at 1:30. Plant Drawing ends the meeting.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM--Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Browse new brochures, and Get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM--A short business meeting, Presentation, Plant Drawing

“Small Container Gardening” by Jeannie Crust.

“Beautyberry” by Jo Hudak.

“Supporting Florida Wildlife In Urban Environments”

Maxine Hunter, Ag/Natural Resources Agent and Certified Arborist
Marion County UF/IFAS Extension Services

Maxine Hunter has been a UF/IFAS Extension Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator since 2014. She has a Masters's degree in Agriculture Education and Communication and a Bachelor's degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation both from the University of Florida. Her favorite horticulture topics include integrated pest management, vegetable gardening and edible landscaping, and wildlife management. Prior to becoming an extension agent, she worked for the UF/IFAS Extension Farm to School Program as the Northeast Florida District Coordinator where she assisted with the implementation.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Location: Eisenhower Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

Directions to Eisenhower

One time only at Eisenhower. The Villages took our time at Big Cypress in January


  • Election of Officers
  • Alycyn is speaking on How to Do Soil Testing
  • Kat is handing out soil testing kits
  • Bob Keyes is speaking on Mulching With Leaves
  • Dr. Norma Samuels is our speaker.
    Topic: It All Begins With Dirt

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM--Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Browse new brochures, and get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM--A short business meeting, Presentation, Plant drawing

Prepare to Get Your Hands Dirt-y!

Mulching With Oak Leaf Litter

Bob Keyes Harvesting Oak LeavesBob Keyes will walk us through collecting, shredding, and mulching with oak leaves. He’s even bringing
bags of oak leaves to give away during our meeting!

How to Test Your Soil

Kat Manczak is bringing soil test kits for us to take home and use. She’ll instruct us on how to collect samples and get them processed.

Download Soil Sample Directions and Form and PDF

It All Begins With Dirt!

Dr. Norma SamuelDr. Norma Samuels
Central District Assoc. Dist. Extension Director with UF/IFAS Extension
Chair, Caribbean Agricultural Extension Providers Network
President, Board of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services

Before migrating to the U.S., Dr. Samuel worked with the Ministry of Agriculture in Antigua and Barbuda on a research station and with the Plant Protection and Quarantine Unit. Her B.S. and M.S. are from the U of Georgia. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication with an emphasis on International Extension and a minor in Nonprofit Organizations from the University of Florida. 

She has 18 years of experience as an Extension Agent in the areas of residential and commercial horticulture, Master Gardener Coordinator, and 4-H youth development. Dr. Samuel has expertise in the areas of pest management, volunteer development; risk management; human and organizational capacity building, and of the extension system in the US and the Caribbean. She has led and or participated in several international Extension projects in the Caribbean and Ghana. Dr. Samuel has over 300 publications in newspapers, newsletters, and peer-reviewed papers and curricula and is the recipient of numerous professional awards.

Soil Sample Directions

  • Use a zip-lock type plastic bag or furnished paper bag.
  • Collect about one cupful of DRY SOIL.
  • Write the location on each bag: "front yard", "back yard", etc.
  • On the form, select the type of analysis desired.
  • Follow the form directions to complete.
  • Enclose payment.
  • Mail.
  • Results will be sent directly to your email or phone within a few days to one week.


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