More Extravaganzas! September 10-16

...And look at us now!
 

During a warm, sunnyTuesday lunch hour we gave a presentation about Shifting Gears to interested Marin Academy students and faculty. On the right you see us showing off our spirit merch from back in the day....

 

We wanted the MA garden to be a stop on our journey--a symbolic end--because our friendship is rooted in MA, and particularly in the soil of the garden. We shared many lunch hours talking about our crushes there in a wooden gazebo that no longer stands. Our freshman year we were both on a minicourse all about local food in the Bay Area; one of the minicourse days included a garden work day in which we amended beds and built compost bins (those are still there! woot woot!).

 

Marin Academy is also where we began to think critically about food. No longer was it an enjoyable thing we grew up eating with our families (food is love, after all!), it also became a locus of political, social, and environmental importance. The first time I learned of the concept "food justice," in fact, was from our beloved biology teacher Mark Stefanski's mouth (Stefanski For Peace on Lake's shirt above!). Under Mark's encouragement, we were both involved in the garden and the MA-Canal Sustainability Project, installing garden beds in the Canal, a predominantly Latino immigrant neighborhood near MA.

 

When we reached out about our idea to visit the garden to our mentors and teachers still changing lives at MA, like Mark Stefanski and current Thoreau Chair/math teacher/fireball/wonderful human Jen Cote, we were immediately swirled up in a blanket of love and support. Ever since my first day at Marin Academy, I have felt held. Unstoppable positive support and encouragement has accompanied us through every step.

 

It is no exaggeration to say if it weren't for MA, there would be no Shifting Gears. Its campus was the cradle of our lifelong friendship; its education provided us the concepts of food justice; its community of teachers and mentors gave us the confidence to pursue our interests in creative and hands-on ways. In a sense, Jen Cote even provided the seed of the cross-country bike trip idea when on a hike one day she told me about her post-college cross country bike trip with her best friend, Sal My Pal, who currently teaches at Bentley School in the East Bay.

 

Thank you, Marin Academy, for being our school for life!

September 10: Closing Where It Began in the Marin Academy Garden
Almost ten years ago, as Freshmen in high school, we met at Marin Academy in San Rafael. The student garden was just getting started, and it proved to be a place where we spent a lot of time together....

A bucket list board current students erected in the garden. The garden is increasingly becoming an educational space used for formal classes as well as gardening extracurriculars.

Andrea Davis-Cetina of Quarter Acre Farm, Sonoma, CA

 

Because we were unable to visit her farm, Andrea was kind enough to write a guest article for us!

How beautiful is she?!

"Do You Work for Your Husband?"

And Other Things People Ask Female Farmers

 

by Andrea Davis-Cetina

 

It’s true – I get asked that question a lot. But when people learn I’m a young, female farmer, their first question is often – how did you get into farming?

 

I grew up in Maryland surrounded by disappearing farmland. The fields and barns of my childhood showed me the importance of sustainability and community, which became a passion that has guided my education and career.

 

When I was attending Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, I fell in love with agriculture particularly small- scale farming.  I focused on local food systems for my senior thesis because I could see the positive effect that eating locally had on the local economy.  When a customer buys potatoes from a farmer within their town, the farmer uses the money to pay for supplies from a local store, in turn the local store pays employees, and so on - allowing the money to stay in a community longer creating and sustaining a viable economy.  

 

I moved to California in 2005 and quickly got my hands dirty by creating and maintaining edible gardens for restaurants and private clients.

 

In 2008 I took the leap to start Quarter Acre Farm on a 1/4 acre of land.  Following my passion and enthusiasm towards natural and sustainable methods I decided to have the farm certified organic through CCOF in 2010.  Quarter Acre Farm has grown a little over the years and is currently 3/4 of an acre.

 

Now – about that other question.

 

It wasn’t until my second summer of apprenticing on a family farm that I realized that the boss was always a man.  I have been fortunate that my male mentors/ employers have always been very supportive of my interest and work on the farm.  But now as a farm owner I often find that the public is the most surprise that I am the owner of my farm.  As I’m selling at the farmers’ market I often get asked if I'm working on my husband's or my parent's farm, or maybe I'm just a farm employee selling at the farmers' market.  Most people’s image of a farmer is of a man sitting on a tractor.  How do we change this image to better reflect reality?

 

When I see something that I think needs to be changed, I’ve always been one to work toward results, even small ones.  So I’m doing my best to show people what a farmer looks like.  I’m making sure that they know not only that I am a farmer, but also that other farmers that might not fit their preconceived image either.  There’s a lot of talk out there about how to grow your business, especially for women entrepreneurs (and farmers are entrepreneurs!). But for me, and for most farmers I think, it’s not just about my farm and my CSA – it’s about connecting people to a lifestyle of living sustainably and supporting diverse local farmers. I try to get that message out with an active online presence and interacting with my community at farmers’ market, garden talks, and organizing/ networking with fellow farmers. I’ve also been really lucky to partner with a local radio station on a weekly show, where I get to talk with lots of local people working on sustainability issues and living a local lifestyle.

 

So while the question “do you work for your husband?” used to bother me sometimes, I welcome it now. It’s just another opportunity to get people talking – about female business owners, about farmers, about local living and about how to change our communities for the better. 

All her husband's hard work... just kidding! Find Andrea and her glorious certified organic produce at the Sonoma Farmer's Market

Here, Andrea skillfully uses the kind of small "appropriate technology" that diversified farmers need to do their farming time- and labor-efficiently. Access to this kind of equiment is a huge need we saw accross the country. 

Photo credit: In Her Image Photography.

Please visit quarteracrefarmsonoma.com!