It was my parent’s 32nd wedding anniversary last week. To me, along with wishing them a happy day and giving them a big sloppy smooch on the cheek, this also meant working along side them on the farm on another hot summer day.
There are challenges and incredible benefits to working with my family members. As sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers, we are all joined in the valiant effort of trying to feed the souls and bellies of those who surround us. Additionally, we all try to remember to ask how weekends went, how children are, and check in with each other on a personal level. During these long summer days, it would be easy to slide into work and forget that we are family.
I am the youngest of the Muller/Rivers family. Known to many Full Belly Farm customers as ‘the one who never comes to the farmers markets’ (unfortunately true, due to the fact that my mental math is far inferior to those older siblings who attend weekly). Beyond my farmer market shyness, I am also beginning to be known to some as Full Belly Farm’s ‘in-house florist,’ a title I much prefer.
As the youngest of four, I have always had an adventurous spirit. My older siblings returned to the farm after their time at their respective universities without hesitation. Though my first inclination was to rebel against this trend, I, too, excitedly moved back from college about a year ago after completing my studies in Sociology at the University of Oregon. My goal in coming back home was to find a way to combine my interests of farming and art into an enterprise on Full Belly Farm.
I always chuckle when people scratch their heads as I tell them that I am aspiring florist and farmer – they have clearly never met my mother. If they did know my mother, Dru, they too would be aching for a few beds to plant flower seeds and searching Craigslist endlessly for a few acres or a barn to test out the ‘farming lifestyle’ for awhile.
My mother makes farming look incredibly romantic. With her soft windblown hair, bright blue eyes, innocent smile and calloused hands, she makes even the toughest farmers crumble like the softest loamy soil in pure adoration. Even goats, known to be the most stubborn of the farm animals, follow her as she leads them confidently across the farm.
She is truly a goddess in farmer form, and is known to many-a-future-farmer enthusiast as one of the pioneers of organic farming. She, along with a few others helped to start one of the first campus gardens in the United States at UC Davis, and in the 1980’s went against the conventional grain and began a sustainable and organic farm in Northern California. If that doesn’t sound exhausting enough, while working full time to create one of the most fertile farms in California, my mother and father (with the help of interns, crew members and fellow farm owners) also raised four adorably-blonde-energetic-screaming children.
When I was young, my mother would spend hours filling buckets with flowers to arrange for markets. While she worked, her hands a blur of clippers and blooms, I napped in the back of trucks and in boxes, exhausted from my days of difficult exploring. As I grew older, I began trying to master the names of the many different types of flowers we grow and started to learn how to arrange our organic flowers into creations – bouquets and flower crowns and love potions.
Full Belly Floral is now a subset of Full Belly Farm and has grown into an enterprise from which I can offer uniquely arranged and sustainably grown flowers for weddings and events. Most importantly, I get to do what I love every single day while enjoying the company of my family and extended family (those interns, crew members and farm owners who help raise me). It is exciting to have the support of our longtime customers – those who have been with us since the beginning and have helped nurture our farm’s growth.
If you would like to learn more Full Belly Floral and flowers we grow here on our farm, I would encourage you to sign up for one of the floral arranging classes I will be teaching in the next few months. I will be leading a hands-on farm fresh flower design workshop at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival on Sunday, October 4th (www.hoesdown.org). For more workshop information, please visit http://fullbellyfarm.com/events/full-belly-floral/.
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