Courtney Mellblom supplied the beautiful photo of dahlias she grew for the mandala used in today’s newsletter. She is an organic farmer and photographer on the Central Coast of California.
Her maternal grandfather is a botanist and her paternal grandparents grew up on homesteads in Montana, so she’s been imbued with a love of plants from an early age. With a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and French with minors in Sustainable Agriculture and Plant Biology, she did the majority of her coursework for her minors in Spanish at an agricultural university in Costa Rica. Her interest in medicinal plants began when she was learning French in the French West Indies. In Israel she received her Permaculture Design Certificate and began to unearth the agrarian roots of her Jewish heritage. There, she discovered that her spirituality and profession are deeply and intricately woven, and that she didn’t have to separate her Jewish identity from her farming identity because agriculture is the very foundation of our culture and nearly all of Jewish major holidays have an agrarian raison d’être!
Once in San Luis Obispo, CA, she was deeply involved with an organization that employs adults with developmental disabilities to run a garden and maintain the 10-acre grounds. She still remains involved with their summer camp as she now manages an organic farm, primarily selling fruit and eggs, and this season started her own enterprise, Farmermaid Flowers growing and selling specialty cut flowers for the floral design industry.
Courtney says: “Throughout all of my agriculture, plant science and botany classes, I never paid any attention to “ornamentals” that were neither edible nor medicinal because I didn’t recognize their value. After farming with Combat Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, I realized the profound healing and uplifting effects that flowers have on the psyche, and now they’ve got me, hook, line and sinker!” https://www.instagram.com/farmermaidflowers/