by LIZ ONUFER | photo by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Lifelong Love for the Outdoors

volunteer_nichols2It was his mother’s love for the gardens that originally drew Dave Nichols to the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens. “It must have rubbed off on me,” he admitted. Today, Dave is a volunteer at the gardens and the event organizer behind the Meading at the Garden event.

The annual event, held every April, is a social affair of beer, wine, mead, and music that benefits the Alta Vista Botanical Garden (AVBG). “This year brought both exposure and awareness to AVBG – a hidden gem in Vista,” Dave shared. “It also raised some much-needed funds for maintenance and expansion.” Organizing the event was an opportunity for Dave to combine his interests, allowing him to honor his mother’s love for the gardens and share his love for meading and home brewing. The annual Novemberfest at AVBG, sponsored by the Amigos de Vista Lions Club, is another opportunity for Dave to support the gardens. He also volunteers for the AVBG’s Earth Day festivities, and seeks to help by spreading awareness about the gardens wherever he can.

Name: David Nichols
Community: Vista
Profession: Communication Engineer
Family: Two surviving brothers
Hobbies: Cooking, good food, good beer, gardening, enjoying the outdoors
Favorite Local Spots: Mother Earth Brew Co., Backstreet, and Breakwater Brewing

Dave began making mead, a honey-based fermented drink, about 12 years ago on a friend’s recommendation. Also known as honey wine, a variety of fruits, spices, and vegetables can be added to flavor the drink. “I have a small orchard on my property and experimented with citrus and tropicals to produce my first few creations,” he said. “I enjoy the creative part of meadmaking the most. It is expressionistic, and therefore artistic, but also requires solid principles rooted in science to achieve consistent quality and results.”

His use of honey for meadmaking has made Dave aware of an issue currently faced by both meadmakers and gardeners. “Being a meadmaker has brought me in touch with a serious situation we’re facing with the health and well-being of the bees,” he shared. The use of pesticides has been a contributing factor to the Colony Collapse Disorder, impacting the bee population. “I believe that organic and sustainable living is the best way we can help our bees, and ourselves,” Dave shared.


His lifelong appreciation of the outdoors began as a boy during hiking and fishing trips with the Boy Scouts. A 92081 resident since 1970, Dave appreciates the great variety of activities of the Southern California lifestyle, including surfing, snowboarding, and gardening. “I enjoy the mix between suburban and rural settings that Vista offers,” he acknowledged. “The peaceful surroundings at the garden provide a quiet place I can escape to relax and think about whatever’s on my mind.”

Name: Alta Vista Botanical Gardens
Mission: To maintain and expand and educate the public on nature and the benefits of a botanical garden.