Common Roots Farm
August 2019
Updates from the farm field
Volunteers pose with floral bouquets,
Volunteers hold eggs that they have collected.
Volunteers gather for a photo after working on the farm.
Happy Heart campers pose in front of the painting of Summer, the farm dog.
by Heidi Cartan
Executive Director

It’s the busiest time of year on our farm and so much is happening thanks to our staff, volunteers, and partners.

Some highlights:

  • Our abundant flowers are adding splashes of color to our farm. Volunteers are creating stunning market bouquets. We recently delivered the weekly table flowers to Bistro One Twelve. Two Posies, our new partner business, will be adding more regular floral customers in the future, giving us regular buyers of our flowers.
  • Laying hens are healthy and happy. The eggs sell out every week! The girls require a lot of attention, and they are surely getting it.
  • We have a jungle of tomatoes waiting to be harvested. Always popular strawberries are not easy to manage, but they are still going strong. We recently celebrated a milestone: 100 pounds of strawberries harvested!
  • Greenhouse interns are on top of things. You will now find several types of lettuce and fragrant basil and dill on sale at our weekly farm stand and in the CSA basket.
  • We are serving 18 CSA customers with high quality produce weekly in our first year! It’s a challenging task, and we are learning valuable farm management and business skills. Our volunteers are harvesting endlessly!
  • New Perspectives adult day program from Gilroy visited with their participants recently and liked our farm so much that they plan to be regulars. Our inclusion specialist makes sure the farm continues to be accessible and engaging to all types of farmers.
  • Summer, our farm dog, has been immortalized in her new portrait painted by the Happy Heart Studio campers. What a joy to have kids on the farm who help make our inclusion dream a reality.

After visiting our Saturday farm stand recently, a neighbor posted on Nextdoor, “I bought the most delicious strawberries and tomatoes there yesterday.”

Thanks to all who got our summer off to a great start.
Patagonia hosts pop-up farm stand
Sylvia Grape staffs the pop-up farm stand at Patagonia Outlet Santa Cruz.Just a mile from Common Roots Farm is Patagonia Outlet Santa Cruz. As a leader in manufacturing outdoor clothing and gear, Patagonia is an innovative company with a strong commitment to address environmental issues. As its website states, “a big part of Patagonia’s mission involves public engagement.”

Thanks to an invitation from welcoming and creative staff members Buzz and Natalie, Common Roots Farm has been introducing our farm’s produce and our mission to Patagonia customers. We’ve set up a pop-up farm stand in front of the Patagonia store on River Street here in Santa Cruz for the past few Saturdays. Our crew of volunteers, lead by farm team member Lisa Rose, has enjoyed meeting customers and sharing our story with them.

Patagonia makes a big commitment to its environmental values, and we are making strides in stewarding our farm parcel based on similar goals. We were proud to share the news with Patagonia about our recent state grant to plant hedgerows and a riparian buffer along our creek to improve the biodiversity on our farm.

Thank you to Patagonia for this wonderful opportunity and to our dedicated and generous volunteers for representing us at this fun, pop up Saturday farm stand.
“Plant Ninja” in the greenhouse
Natalie Markovics describes her work in the greenhouse to the Cabrillo visitors.Common Roots Farm had the pleasure of hosting Cabrillo College President, Matt Wetstein, and Trustee, Rachael Spencer, for a tour of our farm and greenhouse to see the work of recent Cabrillo College graduate, Natalie Markovics. They were very impressed.

Natalie wrote:

I'm sure some of you have seen me running around the farm and tinkering in the greenhouse but for those who haven't met me, my name is Natalie. I’m Kyle’s (much shorter) counterpart in hydroponic production.

Kyle and I have been working day and night, weekends and weekdays, to get the greenhouse up and running at full capacity. Our goal is to create a beautiful, welcoming, streamlined production house with a full spectrum of systems so everyone has a place to work. We hope to finish creating this space before the winter “off season” arrives.

A little about myself. My husband and I are both disabled veterans and former Department of Defense contractors. We’ve moved around a lot and a couple years ago we (and our boys ages two, three, and eight) made the decision to move to Santa Cruz County so we could attend Cabrillo College’s horticulture degree program together.

I love learning, and as far as formal education goes, I have a Bachelor’s degree in History (with an emphasis on Middle East — East Asia), an almost completed Bachelor’s degree in Social Science, an Associate’s in Information Technology, an Associate’s in Horticultural Sciences (from Cabrillo), and a Certificate in Organic Crop Production (also from Cabrillo). Being a prior military Sergeant, I also have formal experience and academic training in instructing, management, paperwork, and leadership.

Some people refer to me as a “Grower” or a “Greenhouse Manager.” I like to poke fun at myself and say that I’m a “Grow-her” or a “Plant Ninja.” Plants are my passion and they make me happy. Volunteering and dedicating time towards this very innovative and wonderful nonprofit has been a fun blessing.

Next time you’re at the farm, come stop by the greenhouse and take a few pictures of the beautiful plants. We welcome you all to view the progress as the greenhouse morphs into a living masterpiece.
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