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Oakland, CA

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The Farm - Mendocino
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The Farm - Mendocino

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A few weeks ago, I booked an overnight at The Farm in Mendocino. The drive itself is a mesmerizing get away through Redwood trees, driving slow past apple farms and wine tasting rooms. When the road meets the ocean for the first time, it is breathtaking.


The Farm is about one mile from the coast in the small town of Albion. Founder Michele Schwartz is preparing my cabin - the Cedar Room - when I arrive at the gate. 

Michele is a member of the Fiber Shed and an artist who created The Farm to bring people together to learn about different artisan techniques through workshop retreats. I signed up for the class in felt making and plant dyes, knowing nothing about the hands-on process but knowing about the Fiber Shed by talking to member producers across the United States.

The Farm celebrates the "Little Things" that are built into every part of the grounds. My cabin is surrounded by trees. I am a few steps away from the outdoor work space, bathroom, shower, and sauna. It is clear that here the personal details will make it memorable. It begins with dinner in the main house.

 

I meet Michele and the other workshop teacher Meredith Law who is an artist and owner of Meredith Law Design. Dinner is made and presented family style by Michele's daughter. After helping myself to sole and potatoes, we start to talk about our businesses; then what we think of creating versus creativity. Michele tells us why she built The Farm: "I wanted to create a place where people could go and experience the power of creating and even the healing that comes from creating."  

When I'm ready for bed, I follow the tiny lights under glass jars that mark the short path to my cabin. Tomorrow is a full day.


On Saturday, ten women come together to dye fabrics in five different metal buckets from Eucalyptus leaves to black beans. Meredith styles a table of local plants and tells us to create whatever we want and to forget the rules. Lunch is served while the dye projects steam. Art felting is next -- and Meredith promises great discoveries.

 

 

After creating a tree-scape from a watercolor, I'm anxious to get home to keep creating. I also think my daughter might be excited to know how the bright purple came from carrots, cabbage, and rose tips.
When I travel, I don't always want to hit the hot spots but feel in some way obligated or my visit would be incomplete. I know now that maker places like The Farm offer a great option. And if hands-on workshop retreats are intimidating or have never been a travel consideration, you can be sure that The Farm and people like Michele Schwartz will welcome you and make you feel at home.