I've had the pleasure of making so many friends and colleagues on this flower adventure, but this one little pistol really stands out. The first time I met Alexis, owner and "la granjera" of Soul Food Farm, I knew the two of us could get into something fun, possibly dangerous, but definitely exciting. That same day, she told me "girl, you've got something big." I'll never forget her words. She was the first person to say and actually mean this in a positive light. (I had a boss who once told me "you know, you walk in the room and take up all the space." This was definitely not meant as a compliment, nor taken as one). But Alexis's words filled my head and warmed my heart. And though I'm pretty sure I turned five shades of red, then stark white, and as I shook it off, it was the start to one sweet adventure.
Alexis and I have worked together on various occasions from photo shoots, to events, to dreaming up plans for a flower farm. This last year Alexis has started planting a crop of flowers for cutting. She’s had much success with her gorgeous lavender fields, olive orchards, and hundreds of chickens, naturally there has to be another project in order. After all, I’m pretty sure the lady never stops moving much less sleeps. So there we started. Alexis grows the flowers, I get to help cut them down (I know makes me seem like a real dream killer huh?)
This fall after many talks and dreams about a little flower farm, workshops, field trips, and true hands-on learning environment, we caved. We decided to host our first Farm to Vase: Floral Design and Foraging Workshop. We wanted to share with others the magic of the farm and give everyone a chance to learn, create, and of course get a little dirty.
The morning of the workshop was gently warm with a thin looming fog in the air. Our months of 90 plus degree weather was finally cooling into chilly nights and dew-filled mornings. The farm looked glorious in its royal greens and gold. Tiny pumpkins lined the fields alongside the last tomatoes of the year. We could hear a hint of chickens in the distance but mostly it was just peacefully quiet. And we were giddy with excitement.
Our workshop participants arrived to the farm with welcoming smiles and aprons ready for the day ahead. After a brief introduction, we toured the farm with fields of ripe fall vegetables: chilis, eggplant, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, grasses, olive branches, and various cold weather blooms. I gave instruction on cutting, foraging, plant species, and of course a stop in to visit Wanda, the sweetest farm goat. Then participants were then set free to forage the farm for their design materials.
We gathered after foraging for instruction on how to make a garden style floral arrangement. Participants matched their foraged items with other selections of California-grown fall blooms we provided. What they created was phenomenal! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Every time I looked up, a new and totally different design emerged from the workshop participants. I kept telling them they were hired. And truthfully, they were really fantastic.
The workshop came to a close over a shared meal in the calm of the olive orchard. Delectable eats prepared by Alexis, her husband Eric, and my husband Adam featuring local farm vegetables, delectable cheeses from another farm just up the road, homemade pasta dressed with pesto, Soul Food Farm eggs with aioli and olive oil, Acme bread, and Pink Lady Rose from a woman vintner in the nearby valley. Rebecca, our workshop assistant, dressed the table with mixed matched china, hand sewn napkins, and silver for an understated but elegant table setting. It was the perfect end to a delightfully fun-filled day. Over lunch we shared stories and laughs. So many ladies from all walks of life coming together to share one special day on the farm; creating, exploring, laughing, telling stories, feeding our bellies and souls. It was truly remarkable.
Alexis and I are eager for our next workshop in April 2016. The spring blooms will be at their peek and ready for snipping. We can’t wait to share in this experience with you so stay tuned and sign up early. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@thepollenmill @soulfoodfarm) to stay up to date on our announcements.
A huge thanks to our Farm to Vase Team: Crystal Lynn Photography for the truly beautiful photos, Rebecca for thinking of all the things I need before I even know I need them, Eric for mastering the kitchen and helping to make the most delicious truly farm-to-table meal, and Adam for running around, do anything, and helping everyone. We couldn’t have done it without out you. You are so appreciated. XX~ Kim & Alexis