This is a guest post by Jennifer Everett, Farm Manager for California Floral Greens in Watsonville, CA. Jennifer also serves as a Commissioner for the California Cut Flower Commission.
You can follow Jennifer on Twitter.
It has been almost 5 1/2 years ago now that I asked myself, “why would a texan move to California to become a farmer?” At that time, my father, Jim Everett, was offering me a chance to move to the sunny state of California and manage a total of 120 acres of floral greens. I had been teaching chemistry for the last 7 years and was looking for a change of pace, when the opportunity arose. I was born on our family’s farm in Florida and have been raised as my dad’s right hand pal since I was a little girl. I remember staying up all hours of the night to turn on water (to keep the plants alive) with my dad. I have such great childhood memories of wanting to be just like my dad! California was my opportunity.
The first step was to figure out where in the world Watsonville, California was and then visit and see if I could make my home there. Being from San Antonio, TX, this city gal had never heard of this small town on California’s Central Coast.
I instantly fell in love with the weather!
I remember walking the farm for the first time and thinking how great it would be to wake up every morning and smell the ocean breeze mixed with the baby blue eucalyptus. The fragrances on the farm in Watsonville were so strong and it just put a smile on my face. I also remember seeing the huge heads of the different hydrangeas being grown and thinking they would never grow like that in Texas.
Second step was agreeing to take the job and move my whole life to Watsonville. The farming community in Watsonville is wonderful and there are so many fellow farmers willing to help out and offer their advice and expertise to me. I soon realized that growing greens in California was very different than in Texas, and had to make adjustments. These adjustments have made growing in California a pleasure and also much easier to produce the lovely and high quality of greens we have become known for. I love when customers ask for “California Grown” leather! Our climate and growing practices make my leather top quality.
The last step in my journey was to accept that I am now just as happy to say I live in California as I am saying I am from Texas. I have grown to love California and the great conditions we have for farming. One of the tasks on my plate is turning on the water during cold nights and ensuring the plants survive, but our California winters are less frigid than in Texas (a major plus). I really have come full circle and have become my dad. Another great thing about CA is the lack of pests and diseases in this area. This prevents us from having to use very little chemicals to protect our crop. Instead, I am able to focus on adapting to a “greener” growing operation and have put deployed an army of beneficial insects that do the job I need to protect my plants. I never imagined having such a cool pest management program on my farm (my dad still cannot fathom that I’m using good bugs to fight off the bad bugs!)
As I prepare to start my own family and give birth to my first child, I am proud to say that he will be a born right here in this great state of California. I hope he will grow up on the farm learning to love everything I do here.
Of course, “CA Grown” will have a whole new meaning for my family!
[Find more photos of my farm on Flickr]
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