Reflecting on 2017

It's been almost 3 months since I said goodbye to my beautiful farm-ily and graduated from the UC Santa Cruz Farm Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture.

Life since then has been a whirlwind of organizing to-do lists and timelines, adjusting to more screen time, balancing new responsibilities and projects without the structure of a 9-5 job, and reflecting on this past growing season of learning, growth, and community.

Since October when I packed up my tent cabin overlooking Monterey Bay and closed a profound chapter of my life, the ideas that had sprouted into dreams and were woven into goals during my time at the UCSC Farm soon became integral to the fabric of my daily life.

The vision I crafted as I dug potatoes and planted ranunculus and cooked meals for 45 of my favorite people has begun manifesting as tangible stepping stones into the future, each leading to deeper understanding of the purpose and potential of those dreams.

No doubt, I have days when fear makes me question if my decision to dive headfirst into self-employment, start a mini farm, and try to start a small baking business is ridiculous...

...but when I reflect on all of the growth, discovery, and change that I have experienced since I left my awesome job at the UC Santa Cruz Sustainability Office last April to start farming, it makes me excited and encouraged to continue moving forward in this new direction. At the very least, I know I'll be well-fed in 2018 with fresh produce, sourdough bread, and support from my community.

Green Gal's 2017, in Summary

I got engaged to marry the love of my life in March in a blossoming orchard off Highway 120.

From April to October, I lived, worked, and learned at the UCSC Farm and Gardens through the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. I learned and experienced more than could possibly be stated in this blog post, but there are a few glimpses into my life on the farm in prior posts.

I baked a whole lot of sourdough bread, experimented with different loaves (tomato basil was a personal favorite), and I learned how to bake many loaves in succession, many times baking enough for 50 people in one day.

I completed my first Permaculture Design Course and received my Permaculture Design Certificate through Santa Cruz Permaculture.

Green Guy and I adopted two cats, Cooper and Coffee.

I dreamed of starting my own garden from the slopes of the Up Garden.

I led two fun and well-attended sourdough 101 workshops: one at the UCSC Harvest Festival at the Farm and the other in the UCSC Village Kitchen through the Food Systems Working Group. Thanks to everyone who participated!

I shared my 150-year-old sourdough starter with dozens of people through the two workshops, among my apprenticeship cohort, and beyond.

I broke ground on a very small market garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains and sowed cover crop to prepare the ground for spring planting. I named the garden Green Gal's Garden

I got my first business license for Green Gal Consulting, which provides marketing, outreach, event planning, workshops, and organizational services in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas with a mission to support projects, programs, and small businesses that connect people to place, the natural world, community, and themselves. Part of this process also included getting my first P.O. box and business banking account, becoming a coworking member at NextSpace, and biking all over San Jose to process paperwork to become official.

I began working with my first client, Santa Cruz Permaculture, to support outreach, marketing, social media, and more. (I'm looking for additional clients, so please email me if you're interested in learning more!)

I've found out what it's like to be self-employed and set your own hours. I learned that my weakness is sleeping in, but I actually get a lot done in the early morning if I wake up and start working right away. I am still not quite sure what my optimal working hours are, and learning more about this for myself is one of my 2018 goals.

I spent a lot of time planning Green Gal's Garden, including creating a marketing survey that is still open for feedback. I'm looking at you, reader!

I submitted my first soil test for Green Gal's Garden and received results that made me smile; guess what kind of soil we have up there! I still need to sit down with a trained eye to identify my next steps for improving the soil.

I put together a comprehensive cash flow analysis for the consulting and garden aspects of the business, which made me incredibly grateful for the years I worked in the UCSC Sustainability Office supporting accounting and budgeting for the Office and Carbon Fund. So. Many. Spreadsheets.

I registered a business license for Green Gal's Garden in Santa Cruz County and signed a lease for the land. Vegetables will be planted and packed into CSA boxes, fruit trees will be maintained and harvested from--it's really happening!

I bought some equipment for the garden, including a backpack sprayer for fertigation (fish emulsion, yum), a digital scale for weighing and pricing, and a first aid kit. 

I started and have made good progress on a detailed crop plan and timeline for the 2018 growing season. It's a big project that's currently marked as URGENT on my to-do list because once it's completed, I can move forward with identifying pricing, signing up CSA customers, and placing orders for seedlings.

If you live in Santa Cruz County or Santa Clara County and are interested in learning more about the CSA once the details are available, please let me know. I also plan to sell surplus veggies beyond the CSA through my email list and/or a website (to be determined).

What about the bread business you've been talking about for months, Green Gal?

As many of you know, in 2017 I also put a lot of thought into starting a very small, locally sourced, organic bread business. I'm waiting until Green Guy and I live somewhere that I can obtain a cottage food operator's license to sell bread from my home kitchen.

As soon as I'm able to do this (which is tricky because we're currently renting an apartment on a short-term lease), I will let folks on my email list, social media pages, and this blog know. Believe me, when my bread is for sale, you will hear about it from all directions!

For now, I'm focusing on consulting work (which could include sourdough workshops if you're curious about learning how to bake bread) and market gardening/farming. I'm also hoping to get a gluten-free sourdough starter going so that by the time I do start selling my bread, I have at least one really delicious gluten-free sourdough recipe to sell.

Happy New Year, and as always, thanks for reading!
Green Gal


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