2018 Reflections and Ready for a Better Year!

This past year was hard, to put it lightly. 2018 was full of challenges that brought me to my knees, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and forced me to grow. In retrospect, I’m grateful for these challenges, as I am a much stronger person now because of them. I’m a believer that life does not give anyone more than they can handle at any given time.

That being said, some of the challenges I’ve navigated included financial losses and burdens. We had an unexpected frost and hail storm in April after I planted all my summer starts. I lost over half of my crops that I paid another farmer to start for me since I didn’t have a greenhouse. That was a huge set back. Then, my cat had to spend nearly 2 weeks overnight at UC Davis for two unexpected surgeries, which was caused by stress due to moving. I moved several times. That statement sounds simple, but the process of not knowing where I’m going to live, but knowing I have to move and then doing the actual moving with a toddler is SO not easy. One of the places I lived at over the summer I had to evacuate from the Camp Fire. The house was safe (Thank God) and the fire was contained less than a mile from where I was living at the time.  The experience of being an evacuee and not knowing whether I would have a home to return to felt like one of my worst, most vulnerable points in my life. I had no control over this other than how I handled my own emotions. 

To put the cherry on top of everything, I was asked to leave the farm. The place I had been growing flowers for the last three years. I had built up the soil beautifully, but it was more than that. The farm was my sanctuary. While I was moving constantly, trying to find the right home for my son and I, the farm remained our constant home away from home. To lose this was devastating to say the least.

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If any of you follow astrology, this was the year I entered my Saturn return. It makes total sense that I was shaken and moved in order to re-align on my true path. It was painful and challenging, but the point of this post is not to have a pity party. I did enough of that for myself in 2018. I’m simply reflecting on what was real and what these forces were that forced me to grow and get to know myself on a much deeper level. Honestly, looking back, I have nothing but gratitude. 

It would also be foolish of me not to re-count the amazing things that happened in 2018. For life is a balance, and for every sour experience, there is a sweet one following (if you let it). I found love again in the spring of 2018.  I almost didn’t allow it for myself, but I’m so glad I did. This man I am dating has been the best gift I received this entire past year. He stood by my side and helped me navigate these challenging waters with calmness and compassion. He brought me back to reality and re-assured me throughout the countless times I’ve felt ungrounded. He’s helped me both physically and mentally, and held space for me in love and light. I’m so grateful for him and to continue loving this beautiful soul. 

Another highlight was finding my new place and my new farm! This is also something my man helped me manifest. Because I had to move, and because I knew I needed a new place to farm in 2019, I was convinced that I could find a place for BOTH my home and my business.  I did! It took a while and learning to say no to a lot of opportunities, but finally I landed here. I moved in October, and sowed a cover crop before our first rain in late November. Since, I’ve been working on moving out of my old farm. 

And where did Nalin fall into all of this? Well, he turned 3 in March 2018 and it turns out, three has been the most challenging year for him (and the parents). There was no such thing as the “terrible twos” with Nalin. He was such a joyful two year old! However, when he turned three is when he started asserting his independence and having tantrums on the regular. Of course, the constant up-rooting and moving didn’t help. His Dad also had to move twice. Thankfully, we’re both settled now for the foreseeable future and Nalin is growing into a respectful, loving little guy. He’s been enjoying his Waldorf pre-school immensely and his father and I are both committed to being the best parents we can be. We’re always assessing ourselves, observing Nalin, and adjusting as necessary. 

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I’m ready to embody and move into this next phase of life. 2019 will be the year of opportunities and more growth. If you follow Tarot, last year in 2018, was the year of the hermit for me. I was very introspective and kept to myself. I grew A LOT within myself and got to know myself deeper than I imagined. I worked through old conditioning and patterns. I released unhealthy thoughts and actions and learned how to navigate challenges in healthy, positive ways. 

It’s great to look back and realize the lows and highlights, but my focus is not staying there. I’m stepping into a new reality and a new way of living. I have dreams, aspirations, and goals this year to focus on.

Now this year, 2019, is the year of The Wheel of Fortune for me. This could not be better or timelier! Apparently, the wheel of fortune year means I will have luck on my side in every aspect of life… love, relationships, business, etc. New opportunities will come my way and I will experience even more growth! Of course every card has a flip side and this could mean the total exact opposite for me. However, I’m trusting in my intuition and I truly do feel aligned. I don’t feel like there’s much more “shaking” that needs to be done here. Regardless, balance will be key for me. Learning how to truly balance my relationships, my work, my parenting, and my self care so that I can continue to be aligned and on my highest path!

On New Years Eve, I chose to do some journaling and meditation. I wrote a list of intentions. This is different than “resolutions”. I never liked that word. Instead, I chose to have intentions. There is a subtle shift there, but a powerful one. With resolutions, if I don’t accomplish them, I am bound to feel guilty and uninspired. With intentions, I am simply stating what I would like without any pressure attached whatsoever. So, a few of my intentions (in no particular order) are:

-      Trust in my intuition, my inner knowing as well as the Divine

-      Welcome and Accept Support

-      Let go of Fears, Worries, Doubt

-      Breath through Anxiety

-      Re-center/Continue to call my energy back to myself

-      Honor my Body and my Needs

-      Prioritize Nalin

-      Share Abundance

-      Deepen Friendships

-      Regular Meditation and Yoga

-      Entertain New Opportunities

-      Clear out Patterns/Thoughts of un-worthiness

I feel pretty happy with these intentions and like they’re totally within reach. I’ve also been feeling into a particular word that I want to embody for that year and that word is: Trust

I’m looking forward to this New Year and experiencing what’s in store. I also invite you to ask yourself, what are some of your new intentions?

With love and light,

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Katie

How to Support Yourself During the California Fires

It is a devastating new reality to be consistently experiencing the effects of the fires that have been erupting in California.

My heart goes out to those families who’ve had to evacuate and to those who’ve lost everything. Words cannot even express how devastating this feels.

A lot of us have been enduring smoked fill skies, and noticing adverse health effects. Headaches, nausea, dry skin, cough, runny nose, etc. I’m personally experiencing several of these symptoms right now, and if you are too, you’ll want to read on.

I felt inspired to share my personal self care methods for times like these. These are some simple, easy, and supportive things we can do to help our bodies in dealing with the smoke.

  1. Wearing a Mask.

    This is huge. If you choose to do nothing else, but one thing- this needs to be it! Think about it… You’re not just inhaling tree smoke, but you’re inhaling all the various chemicals from buildings, cars, homes, factories, etc etc burning down. Those white N95 ones will protect your lungs and you can find boxes of them at hardware stores.

  2. Hydrate

    Smoke is so, so drying and your body is working on detoxifying it all. So drink plenty of water throughout the day and TEA!

  3. Tea

    My favorite herbs to steep for a respiratory tea are Grindelia/Gum Plant, Yerba Santa, and Tulsi. Mullein is also a good one. Marshmallow Root is amazing as well, but you have to make a decoction of that first (Boil, then simmer water with the root in it until the liquid is reduced by at least half) and add a splash of that to tea. Drink as much of this tea as you can per day. If these loose herbs are hard to get a hold of, Yogi Teas makes a nice respiratory blend with many of these same herbs in it!

    Other herbs that are supportive for their mineral content and moving toxins out of the body are Nettles, Horsetail, and Milky Oats.

  4. Immune Support

    Again, your body is detoxifying a lot of crap from the smoke so you want to support yourself as though you’re clearing an illness. My favorite immune support herbs are Echinacea and Elderberry. I also like making a tea with Hibiscus which is naturally very high in Vitamin C.

  5. Magnesium

    You are probably depleted, so taking a supplement of this is key!

  6. Limit Sugar and Alcohol

    I’ll repeat it again… your body is detoxifying right now. That takes a ton of effort and theres no reason we need to be putting more toxins into our bodies at this time.

  7. Skin Care

    Dry brushing… something I’ve recently been getting into, is excellent for stimulating your lymphatic system which is helping your body to move toxins out.

    Salt Baths are wonderful for nourishing your skin and putting the minerals back in.

    Moisturize! This smoke is so drying and it’s a good idea after every shower to moisturize your whole body. Sometimes I’ll use pure coconut oil for this. Any natural oil, shea butter, or salve is great.

  8. Sinus Oil and Steams

    If you’re having issues with your sinuses, you can give them some reprieve with a sinus oil. I love mine from an herbalist which is tulsi infused olive oil mixed with essential oils of peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus. Rubbing this inside my nostrils is the best thing! You can also make a steam. Bring a pot of water to a boil over the stove and add one or more of these same herbs- Eucalyptus, peppermint (or anything in the mint family), and lavender. Put a towel over your head and place your face right over the pot and inhale the steam!

    Additionally, if you have a diffuser, I really recommend the Breath essential oil blend from DoTerra.

I hope this helps! Stay safe, hydrated, and moisturized. Lots of love.

May the rain come soon!!

Blessings,

Katie

How did I get into Farming Flowers?

I get asked this question a lot, so I thought I’d make a post about it. It depends on how far back you go. I could let you know how I’ve grown flowers since I was a little girl. How my mom let me have my own garden space in all the houses we’ve lived in and let me have complete control over it. I could tell you how we would spend hours at the nursery oohing and ahhing over plants deciding which should come home with us and if we had enough space to plant them among our existing plants. These formative years have played in major role in why I grow flowers, as it’s something that has soothed my soul for as long as I can remember.

However, farming and gardening are completely different. How I landed into FARMING flowers was through bees.

Yep, that’s right. It was through our pollinator friends. I studied biology at a small liberal arts college in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and managed to land two internships during the summers of my undergrad BOTH in regards to studying native bee populations… one was through The Chicago Botanic Gardens and I was based in the prairies of Minnesota, and the other was through Oregon State University. It was both of these experiences that helped me land a summer research assistant position through UC Davis. The very next day after I graduated with my bachelors in Biology, I was driving my new leased Nissan Sentra out to California. I was doing it! This Wisconsin girl has always wanted to travel Westward, and this was my chance.

It’s safe to say that I became enamored with California right away. I was in Davis, which is a particularly charming town with an infamous farmers market, permaculture community, and beloved food Co-op. Artists are celebrated in Davis, biking is the preferred mode of transportation, and no one looked at me funny for wearing tie dye. It was safe to say, I felt home.

The pollinator research team I was a part of took me all over the county to various farms of all different sizes. We observed, counted, and took samples of native bees from farms that were huge, mono-crop, and conventional as well as from smaller, more diverse organic farms. This opened my eyes to farming in a whole new way. First off, I realized the bounty of crops that could be grown here and not just during the summer, but during the winter, too! Being from Wisconsin, my view of farming had been very limited to corn, soy, and dairy. I still remember the very first time I saw a pomegranate tree. It was full of flowers, and I was full of wonder. There are a lot of other crops I saw, and tasted for the first time. Persimmons, kumquats, jujubes, and loquats were some of those. Additionally, eating a FRESH PEACH off the tree for the first time was an ethereal experience. I had fallen in love with the idea of farming and growing all these amazing crops. I knew that when my research term was over a few months later that I would not be ready to go back to Wisconsin. So, the day came when my summer bee work was complete and I was desperate to learn farming.

Bombus vosnesenskii on vetch

Bombus vosnesenskii on vetch

By some luck or divine order, I got a job working for Toby Hastings at Free Spirit Farm. His was my favorite farm that we studied bees at. He grew the most gorgeous organic vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, and blackberries on 3 acres. Later, he added chickens to the mix. He gave me a chance with zero farming experience, and I learned how to harvest all of these crops with speed. I learned what quality looks like as his San Francisco restaurants accounts only accepted the absolute best. I would pick his brain about growing these crops at any chance I got, and I filled my belly with the freshest and tastiest food I’ve ever experienced. I also worked harder than I ever had in my life, but felt strong, healthy, and fulfilled in doing so.

Sun golds at Free Spirit Farm

Sun golds at Free Spirit Farm

It was my second season working for Toby when I had this Ah-hah moment. I could farm flowers I thought! I knew a lot of farmers struggled to make a decent living with growing vegetables, and I also knew that flowers were a luxury item and commanded a much higher price than vegetables. Plus, I have always been passionate about flowers! I thought my idea was brilliant, and when I get an idea, I go full force into making it happen. When I wasn’t harvesting for Toby, I was researching and dreaming of farming flowers. I bought The Flower Farmer book by Lynn Byczynski and signed up for The Specialty Cut Growers School, which took me up to Washington in the Spring of 2013 to learn from Diane Szukovathy, Dennis Westphall, Vivian Larson, and Joe Schmidt. This was incredibly eye opening, inspiring, and charged me in a way that I needed. When I returned, I got started. Through connections, I found a private piece of property to grow my flowers on in the same town as Free Spirit Farm, where I was still working. I set out to farm by spreading compost on the field, laying out irrigation, and starting seeds at my friends’ place in a dilapidated plastic hoop-house. I had grand plans of doing a flower subscription/weekly bouquet share while still working for Toby because I couldn’t afford not to have steady income. I would farm 8 hour days harvesting vegetables and then head over to my flower plot to farm another 2-3 hours before going home. My days were long, and if you are at all familiar with California central valley summers, my days were also brutal. I’ve never experienced such intense heat and nonetheless, working in it all day long. Somehow, this still didn’t deter me from farming. My bouquet subscription plan did not work out, but I did manage to have a standing order of 10 bouquets/week with the Davis Food Co-op. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into farming and it gave me back fulfillment, abundance, and a sense of purpose. Although I realized at the end of the season that I needed to explore different options for farming, I felt hooked on farming flowers not only as a job, but a way of life.

My first patch of zinnias

My first patch of zinnias

I’ve come a long way since this first go at flower farming. I’ve learned a lot and still am constantly learning. Mother Nature is the most humbling teacher, and I’m filled with stories of not only successes, but also epic failures. Though I have been gaining confidence of myself, as a farmer as the years go on, there was a HUGE learning curve in the beginning, not only to farming itself, but also to growing flowers in a completely different climate. Wisconsin zone 5b is vastly different from California zone 9b. I often reflect back to these earlier years of farming when I feel like things are particularly difficult. I remember how I just dove in, fearless and strong willed. I remember the joy I was gifted in return, and I know that I can keep going.

Have a look through these images to see my first go at flower farming in 2013. I’ve narrowed it down as best I could to 15 images. It’s a mixture of farm photos with some of the first bouquets I’ve made. As always, thanks for reading!