Maybe it was the time I spent on my grandparent’s farm where I ate my fair share of strawberries from my aunt and uncle’s u-pick operation, or just my need for beauty and sustenance through food, and it’s probably a knowing that our survival depends on healthy food systems, that keeps me coming back to farming, people, and the beauty and gratitude of and for food. In 2015, I learned about Nina Yozell-Epstein’s initiative, Squash Blossom Local Food a mission driven social enterprise connecting people and restaurants to the local farmers of New Mexico. Squash Blossom’s mission is “to provide a dependable income stream for local farmers, bring healthier food to our community, and strengthen our local economy”. They are the only wholesale distributor of local produce for restaurants in Santa Fe and have an online farmers market where the rest of us can shop for our local fare.

Today, you can arrive in a new town or city and find a grocery store or restaurant on your smart phone and get dinner. You don’t need to know about water, soil, season, or the state of agricultural life at all to eat. It’s easy, and disorienting. Squash Blossom offers “Blossom Bag” subscriptions where customers can get a curated bag of local veggies weekly, with the option to add farm-fresh eggs, or locally roasted coffee, homemade jams, mustards, local kombucha, goat dairy, and more. They have pick-up locations for their Blossoms bags and deliver them to workplaces each week, such as Descartes Labs and Meow Wolf. Because of the tight network of farmers that Nina has built, all the food that is delivered to chefs and packed in Blossom Bags is harvested within 36 hours of getting to its destination. When you browse their veggie availability on the computer each week, (as it changes with the seasons), all the produce is still in the ground until someone places their order for it.

I reached out to Nina upon learning of this inspiring work, knowing I wanted to be involved, tell her story, and eat that gorgeous local food! Over the past 3 years, she’s invited me out on ten farm visits. We’ve visited orchards, ranches, fields, and greenhouses together. We’ve gone out in each season, witnessing crops at different stages. We’ve seen acres and acres of impeccable fields, some flood irrigated off the traditional acequias, some with high-tech drip systems. We’ve visited indoor microgreen operations, huge free-range chicken yards, and dark, dank, mysterious mushroom warehouses.

“I am from New Mexico, I was born and raised here, and it’s the only home I have. I want to see it thrive, I want to work for it. If we are not stewards of the land, who will be?” says Nina Yozell-Epstein, Founder, Squash Blossom Local Food. Nina sees the work of Squash Blossom as a way to protect the earth, preserve culture and diversity, strengthen the local economy, and imbue health for all eaters. When I photograph her I see the passion, the joy and the love she has for her community, nature and what she does.

“We’re all here [in New Mexico] against the odds. It’s a desert, it’s a short growing season, there is fire danger, there is drought. You don’t think of farming here, yet everything that grows here has that much more flavor, that much more spice, and that’s true for the people too. I want to protect us, I want to protect my community, and the land. Squash Blossom Local Food is about New Mexico, it’s about protecting the most delicate and vibrant aspect of our culture and community.”

Squash Blossom works with over 25 farms throughout New Mexico, ranging from 1-10 acres. Not all are certified organic, but Squash Blossom does require that their growers use organic practices, ie. not using chemical pesticides nor fertilizers. You can see a full list of the farms they work with here. You can also check out which restaurants are buying local ingredients through Squash Blossom here.

Farms are represented in this group of images:
Española Valley Farms, Española, New Mexico
Rancho la Jolla, Danny Farrar, Velarde, New Mexico
Mushroom Cultivator, Stephanie Dukette

Over twenty restaurants are participating. Look for the logo or click here to see the list.

 

Ground Stone Farm | Squash Blossom’s newest farm addition

This year, Nina’s partner, Mathew Ladegaard, started his own farm after almost a decade of working on other people’s farms around the country. He ended up in New Mexico because of his love for green chile. Nina says, “He can stay,” with a smile. They met at the farmers market a few years ago. Ground Stone Farm is just closing in on their first season, selling about 50/50 through Squash Blossom and through the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.

Nina says, “Mat and I love to travel, and I love watching him engage with native weeds/plants/herbs/flowers everywhere we go. He has collected seeds from a handful of countries and grows them out back home. He’s passionate about unusual varieties of crops and things that will thrive in our high desert environment. We signed the lease on our land on January 1, 2018. (We rent a raw plot with no buildings nor electricity from a kind man who wanted his water-rights to be used so that he didn’t loose them, as per the new ‘aamodt’ water settlement in our valley). Mat had his first harvests ready to sell straight through Squash Blossom in April! I carry his salad mix, lettuce heads, radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, kale and chard, currently. He’s a great greens grower, and that is something I’ve never been able to have enough supply of, to meet the demand of the chefs I work with.”

Also included in these photos – artist, educator and farmer, Liz Brindley of Prints and Plants Press

Check out a recent article about Squash Blossom in UNUM Magazine

Follow Squash Blossom Local Food on Instagram

To learn more, visit: Squash Blossom Local Food online

StoryPortrait Media Testimonial from Nina Yozell-Epstein

“Genevieve is a storyteller. In order to tell a story thoroughly and truthfully, to convey the details, heart, and feelings of a place, person, business, or landscape, one must be immensely graceful. Genevieve is. She is first a listener. She approaches her work with humility and observation and is able to receive the landscape and project with such openness. She allows the story to be told to her, so that she can convey it with impeccable honesty and beauty.

I have had the pleasure of working with Genevieve and StoryPortrait Media on a number of occasions through my business Squash Blossom Local Food Inc. We have gone on numerous farm visits together across New Mexico, into people’s homes and onto their land. We have been welcomed into the most intimate parts of people’s stories, cultures and passions, and Genevieve has observed and retold these legacies with such incredible art and accuracy. I have been amazed. She makes her subjects comfortable, listens in depth, and sees the magic in their story. This is what she is able to convey. The final project is something enormously vibrant. 

As a small business owner, having such high-quality photos of the work I do adds professionalism to my business, and encourages customers to engage. Storytelling is crucial for a small local business, because it shows what sets us aside from corporate America. My customers work with me because my business has values, is mission driven, is woman-owned, and offers unparalleled quality. Genevieve conveys these elements that make my business so unique and special through her photography. You can be doing all the right things, but if you don’t tell anyone, then no one will know. I can’t stress enough how important it is to share your passion for what you do in a professional way, so that people can participate! StoryPortrait Media exists to do just that. It’s an asset that all businesses should have, no matter the size, especially if yours is labor of love. Scream it from the rooftops! Let your community know what you are doing! Work with Genevieve to do this with terrific beauty!”   

-Nina Yozell-Epstein, Founder | Director
Squash Blossom Local Food Inc.
www.squashblossomlocalfood.com

 

 

 

Daven Lee’s entrepreneurial story is a Santa Fe story, in that Love+Leche is deeply inspired by the rich agricultural heritage of Northern New Mexico and her healing arts work, biodynamic craniosacral therapy and her Qigong, Yoga, and Sacred Daoist Sexuality work, comes to fruition from the expansive nature of New Mexico, it’s prominence of healers, and body workers, and the environment’s ability to expand the individual as wide open as the sky. It’s her story, and others like hers, that make me love Santa Fe, want to support and work with independent business owners, and help me to believe in my own wild dreams and creations. I have loved a continuing relationship with Daven over the years, creating marketing images and videos for her, as her businesses and ideas behind them expand.

Daven is a certified teacher in several of the MogaDao disciplines, including yoga, a practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and the owner of Love+Leche. I have received biodynamic craniosacral work from Daven, and it is amazing. It’s hard to describe because in some ways it is very subtle, not much is happening outwardly, no elbows in the muscle tissue, no surprise cracks of the neck, and thankfully. With Daven’s intentional, masterful touch and guidance, the body responds immediately and you can feel the intricate work of opening, quieting, organizing, and healing happening on the spot. The time on the table feels like a meditation, a needed respite from the chaos and complaints, a re-centering, and a remembering. I always leave a session with a renewed focus and calm, ready to re-enter and re-engage in life and creative pursuits, and I always leave more curious of the body’s incredible capacity to participate and reveal itself. That is also the benefit of living in Santa Fe, having access to, and including this type of bodywork, in my own life. You can schedule a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy session with Daven here.

Love+Leche is founded on the love of Mother Nature, an appreciation for things natural, handmade, sensual and beautiful; and the passion to create a meaningful life that will inspire others to do the same. Love+Leche’s luscious soap and lotion bars are made with the help of local nanny goats, who give their rich frothy milk and local bee honey.

Capturing the essence of her work and her love for nature and the healing arts was simple as she authentically radiates the very passion she feels. My hope is that telling her story through the photos connects you to the sacredness and beauty of her work.

“Daven’s deep and beautiful personal practice penetrates her teaching. The poetic imagery that springs out of her takes you on a journey of your internal landscape that is both sensual and spiritual. Daven has truly found her calling as a teacher and a modern-day female alchemist.” — Diana Razumny, The Journey Inward Feldenkrais

You can catch Daven on Instagram @davenly and @loveandleche and online at loveandleche.com and davenlee.com to learn more about her work.

       

  • rhea goodman - beautiful story and photos of the wondrous daven lee.
    thanks for the lovely, sensual photos that truly capture her expansive and juicy spirit.

Sunny Rose Healey, AP is a board certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, herbalist, apprentice midwife, and mother of 2 young children. Like all the top experts in their field, Sunny’s expertise comes not only from training and education, but from her own personal experience with chronic health conditions. Her practice gets to the root cause of health concerns – body, mind and spirit. Her story is inspiring and I am honored to help her tell and share a part of it through our recent photo session.

You always meet the people you need to in life, at the right time. I met Sunny at a Mompreneur event in Santa Fe, and then saw she was offering an 8-day Ayurvedic Reset at the beginning of the year. I signed up and it was a wonderful and profound way to begin a foundation of health for the year. I went on to do an 8-week session following it, a deeper dive. In that time, we talked about and observed the ways we nourish, deal with stress and energy, and ultimately how to pause and tune into our own unique bodies, constitution, energy, and spirit. She helped each of us develop a Dinacharya, or daily routine, that includes self-care practices, balancing meals, and exercise, that now acts as welcome rhythm in my life. Every day since this course, my home and days are more infused with beauty, breath, colorful vegetables, and fragrant and grounding spices, warm teas and elixirs, oil, and rest. Like yoga, it’s a practice that while sometimes it’s easy to get off course, it’s something that is now also constantly calling me back home, to myself. Deep gratitude to Sunny for her studies, for her commitment to her own well-being, and to the gifts that she offers back out to other women.

Sunny works with women from preconception through postpartum and supports women to elevate their health at all stages of life using the timeless wisdom of Ayurveda. She also offers group and private cleanse programs. The next group cleanse is September 30 – October 15th. Save your spot at https://www.mamayurveda.com/detox/

As Sunny continues to grow and expand her business, she was looking to make her work more visual and will use the images, and a forthcoming short video, from our sessions on her website, newsletters and social media to promote upcoming classes, cleanses, and lessons. To learn more about Sunny Rose Healey, visit her website: MamaAyurveda.com and on Instagram @mamayurveda

Donna Bone was one of the first clients that I connected with as I launched StoryPortrait Media. We have been working together now for over 10 years, collecting images of her amazing landscape designs. This year we updated her print and online portfolios, both are stunning.

Please take a moment, indulge yourself, and drink in the beauty of greens, and pinks, reds and yellows. Design with Nature gardens explode the imagination and at the same time calm the mind and body, true masterpieces of art and nature.

Design with Nature is a design + build company in Santa Fe.

M o r e   i n f o