Best Garden Whiz and Butterfly Savior: Victoria ‘Tora’ Rocha | People Issue 2017 – California News

Best Garden Whiz and Butterfly Savior: Victoria ‘Tora’ Rocha | People Issue 2017 – California News

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  • Portrait by Sam Zide
  • Victoria “Tora” Rocha: “I believe in showing your passion.”

Victoria “Tora” Rocha may now be known for her gardening prowess, but her 36-year career with the Oakland city government started in a much different, but no-less exciting job: an elephant trainer at the Oakland Zoo.

“I believe in showing your passion,” Rocha said. “Passion is contagious, so I wear mine on my sleeve.”

After five years of pachyderm wrangling, Rocha moved on to another animal-keeper position, this time at Children’s Fairyland, which ended up setting her on the path to her current passion: the go-to person at Public Works responsible for Lake Merritt’s parks, and founder of the Pollinator Posse.

At Fairyland, Rocha got an additional part-time job in landscape maintenance, where she worked with, and was inspired by, a group of dedicated and talented horticulturalists.

“That’s where I got the [gardening] bug, being around people that passionate,” Rocha said. “I love taking a blighted area and making it beautiful. There’s nothing more…

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