Meet our Team...

Asha  Vitlacil

Asha’s love for plants began in early childhood. By the age of six she adored planting seeds in little cups and watching them grow, and by age 8 she was winning ribbons at the county fair for her cactus and succulent arrangements. After finishing her degree in Communications at UCLA, Asha began studying permaculture and getting involved in environmental campaigns while working at a medical start-up. In 1998 she founded the Unity Garden Collective, a volunteer organization that planted organic gardens for low-income individuals and communities. This led to over a decade in nonprofit management and international aid work before she founded Rhizome Urban Gardens in 2013.

Today Asha specializes in teaching people how to grow their own food organically in urban areas. She loves the idea of edible landscaping, food sharing, and the art of making places beautiful in ways that promote the ecological well-being of the land and community.

Spira Leena

Spira specializes in backyard vegetable production in urban areas. Spira’s education started in the swamps and pine forests of northern Florida, growing up with gardens, chickens, and other backwoods homesteading.

Spira studied permaculture at the Merritt College Horticultural Department and received his certificate in 2011. His passion is designing gardens that produce a maximum harvest of organic food with minimal input, while supporting natural ecosystems. Spira is an avid beekeeper and seed saver, and loves to teach others how to save and plant seeds.

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Julia Beitel

Julia is happy to be carrying on a family tradition through her work in landscaping.  She is an accomplished stone mason and has a wide breadth of experience in the field. She enjoys visualizing designs that balance the aesthetic and the practical, and that tread lightly on the environment. 

Originally from the East Coast, Julia has called San Francisco her home for the last decade, and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Environmental Studies. Since graduation, she has worked as a project leader for Rhizome. Her work includes everything from stonework, patios, installations and maintenance, all of which she infuses with a creative touch. 

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Yuba Walker

Yuba Walker was born and raised in New England and grew up playing in the forest, spending time on local farms, maple sugaring, and growing vegetables at home. She was homeschooled and spent all her time studying plants, collecting rocks, tracking cloud formations, and testing soil.

 

At fourteen, she started to work on an organic, high-intensive, no-till farm and fell in love with regenerative agriculture and soil health. She moved to the Bay Area in 2015 and focused on urban farming, pollinator gardens, and drought resistant plants. She loves the intersection of food justice and gardening in urban spaces. Yuba joined the Rhizome team in 2021, where her extensive experience and passionate enthusiasm is an invaluable asset to the team.

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Veronica Giessler

Veronica completed her Bachelor of Science in Botany and Biology in 2019 at SF State University, then joined Rhizome to apply what she had learned in the classroom toward creating healthier ecosystems. She has an eclectic background ranging from working as a Lab/Field Research Aid in plant function, ecology, identification and greenhouse set up, to volunteering at the Human Society tube-feeding seas lions at the Marine Mammal Center.  She has extensive knowledge of inside and outside plant collections from all over the world. In her words, "plants are my passion and I'd love to make the city I live in a more beautiful and sustainable place."

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Noah Politzer

Noah grew up in warm sunny Southern California and has always enjoyed spending his free time immersed in the beauty of nature’s deserts, forests and beaches. Noah moved to San Francisco in the Summer of 2022 and immediately joined the Rhizome team. Before moving to the Bay Area, he received an Urban Gardening certificate from San Diego City College’s Sustainable Agriculture program and volunteered at a small educational urban farm.

 

Noah likes all types of plants and gardens but is most passionate about regenerative landscaping, healthy soil, water conservation and growing fruits and vegetables efficiently in the urban setting. He’s looking forward to his next chapter helping Rhizome’s clients grow ecologically sustainable San Francisco gardens!