Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boot Camp

Yesterday I attended the First Annual Monterey Bay Master Gardners Boot Camp. It was extremely well organized for the first time of doing this. Cabrillo College's Horticulture Department is BEAUTIFUL! Located on the top of a hill with a fabulous view of the Pacific... well, it doesn't get much better than this!

The keynote speaker was Cynthia Sandberg, farmer and teacher extraordinaire from Love Apple Farm. Her message was that if she could do it, so could we. She gave a few pointers, but what struck me was her journey and how mine parallels hers so closely.

Like me, she came to farming through the love of gardening, mainly tomatoes. She has/ had a reputation as being 'the crazy tomato lady'.

Like me, she came from a career that was very different from agriculture. She was a lawyer, I was a career services counselor.

She loves her plants and calls them her babies.

She began to learn home preservation skills (canning, drying) as a result of farming because she wanted to keep the love and care she put into her summer harvest all year 'round.

Her first income from tomatoes was selling extra plants (on the honor system) that she grew from a table at the end of her driveway. That later turned into selling tomatoes and eggs. And then she began to teach classes (For those of you that remember the year - 2009 was the year of 206  - when I was giving away tomato plants from the back room of Bobbins Nest? What a crack up that was!).

Now she is the supplier of all produce for the 2-star Michelin rated restaurant, Manresa. She is certainly regionally recognized, if not nationally. She's been profiled in Epicurious, Saveur Magazine, The New York Times, mentioned on The Martha Stewart Show, and on and on.

Here's an odd coincidence. David Kinch, owner and executive chef of Manresa, is a Johnson & Wales University alumnus. He is also currently the Dean of the French Culinary Institute's California campus, the former Professional Culinary Institute where I worked the last 1 1/2 years in my previous career.

Since 2008, I've made that transition from 'professional' to farmer. Of course the actual work transition was immediate but the transition in my head took much longer. Three years later, I am proud to say I am a farmer. An organic farmer that practices sustainable methods. I have so much to learn and so much to do. It is so exciting!

Thanks for joining me on this journey. And Cynthia - my hope is that in 20 years, Seven Cats Farm will be as well known as Love Apple. Thanks for the inspiration and reminding me that it doesn't happen over night. I foresee a table at the end of my driveway this summer.

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