News From the Farm | Week of October 14, 2013

Fall is here and winter is coming soon. All of us at the farm are ready for shorter days, cooler nights and…rain! We absolutely can’t wait for the clouds to gather and give us that much needed winter burst of moisture – cleaning off the dusty, hectic days of summer.

The women at the farm who pick and make the flower bouquets all summer long are very happy as well. As the days become cooler and the fresh flowers come to an end in the fields their jobs move into the “wreath room” using the colorful dried flowers that have been hung from the rafters over the summer months. The barn, which we now call the wreath room, is one of the older buildings on the farm and is sided with beautifully weathered redwood. Inside are hundreds of flower bunches – I wish I could give you a tour! Yellow yarrow, blue and pink larkspur, bright red cayenne peppers, nigella, white winged everlasting, round golden drumstick, baby pink globe amaranth, black-awned wheat, all in gorgeous lines dangling from the old ceiling. As the wreaths and dried bouquets get made, flowers get pulled from the ceiling, and new bunches that have been carefully packed away in June, July and August replace them, making an ever changing array of color.

The six flower women – Isabelle, Fidi, Antolina, Maria Jesus, Gaby and Cele – are seasoned artists and amazing crafts women who deftly make 10-15 wreaths a day with an incredible eye for color and style. No two wreaths are alike even if they all start with the exact same flowers. The wreaths use a base of heavy baling wire (which is plentiful here at the farm) and the flowers are carefully wrapped over the base to create magnificent rounds. Often one wreath will have 6-7 varieties of flower woven into patterns around the circle. The women also make dried flower bunches that are sold to stores and restaurants to brighten up their displays.

The wreath making and dried flowers play a vital role on the farm by creating employment throughout the rainy and chilly winter months. By storing and drying the flowers we have developed an important role for the women in the winter. This satisfies a major goal of Full Belly Farm: to provide year-round employment for our crew, avoiding the troubling scenario of migrant jobs, which displace families from the community. Most of our crew – over 65 people – can count on our farm to provide year round employment making it a more vital place for all of us to live.


Our fresh and dried flowers are certified organic along with all of our crops – in fact we have been certified for nearly 30 years! Growing local and organic flowers is another step in a healthier production system. Many people don’t realize that 90 percent of flowers purchased in the US come from thousands of miles away and are often preserved in toxic chemicals to make that shipping distance possible. Our dried flowers use only the warm air to dry right here in our wreath room!

For those wanting to learn more about wreath making and dried flower production we will be holding our annual wreath making class on Monday November 11th, Veteran’s Day. The class will be from 11am to 2pm and includes a delicious organic lunch, as well as all of the supplies for you to make one wreath for yourself. The cost is $45. Come visit us and see for yourself the beauty of Full Belly dried flowers!

–Dru Rivers