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Turning nursery into a horticultural museum
TOP BulletinRainForest5.jpg
ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin correspondent Part of the selection of cactus starters at Rain Forest Nursery.

Jason Schambeck has one philosophy in life that he embraces wholeheartedly.

“I love what I do,” said the Manteca businessman.

That is fully evident in practically every nook and cranny of Rain Forest Nursery which he opened in 2013 on West Yosemite Avenue just east of South Airport Way.

This is not just a nursery. It’s a work of art. More specifically, “my sanctuary garden,” he said with a smile.

It’s also where he expresses his never-ending artistic ideas, horticulturally speaking.

Instead of simply arranging plants and potted trees to fill up space, Schambeck creates visual attractions as though his nursery is a museum. Interestingly, his display pieces are other people’s castoffs which he repurposed to hold potted plants or to serve as backdrop for them. His collection includes several rusty old-model vehicles, an antique tractor, even an old upright piano which he literally rescued from the garbage bin.

The tractor and vehicles were obtained from local farmers who have been his friends through the years. The piano was from Sierra High School. A nephew told him about this musical instrument being thrown away by the school.  Schambeck thought he could use it to good use in his nursery and quickly fished out the heavy item from the school’s trash pile.

The vehicle-turned-planter is home to a variety of flowering plants displayed in the area beneath the open hood. There’s even a feline statue on top of it.

Another car display has a mannequin car repairman which his head stuck inside where the engine is supposed to be.

The old tractor, painted bright orange, even has a farmer behind the wheel. Schambeck laughingly said the farmer is Joseph.

“Somebody else’s garbage is someone else’s treasure,” Schambeck said matter-of-factly.

Those are just few samples of his creativity using plants and “trashed” antiques.

“There are many more things to come, more attractions soon to come,” said Schambeck who studied agriculture in his native Brazil.

He did post-graduate studies in Minnesota and California to further his education in agriculture. It was during one of his visits to friends in Manteca that he was introduced to his wife. They have been married for 28 years and have two daughters. Older daughter Jissily, 21, studied ag at Modesto Junior College and is “learning the business” while working with her father. “She’s our buyer now,” her father said.

Younger daughter Karina, 16, wants to become a biologist and helps at the nursery working on the weekends.

The youngest of six children, Schambeck started in the family business doing construction while his siblings became doctors and engineers.

“I love the outdoors,” was his simple explanation about going into the nursery business.

“I was always a hands-on learner. I learned construction. My father was a farmer and raised beef cattle,” where he started working outdoors, he said.

And that all led to his decision to start a nursery in Manteca.

“I love what I do,” he said.