I am so excited to hear and see all the positive happenings around our Prickly Pear social media and video campaign. A few months ago, Michelle reached out to Mona to help with reviving the succulents from our wedding. Mona was gracious enough to teach us how to have a bit more of a green thumb. After staying in contact, we came up with a social media and video campaign to help Mona step up her game to reach a larger audience and raise funds for the next phase of her business. We were able to collaborate on two videos. The first was about her passion of helping people in the Disability community. The second video was specifically to raise money to build out a larger space for the Prickly Pear. We are so happy to see her community show up to support her vision of a succulent garden and raise enough to get into a bigger space to do so in the next few months. Mona was recently featured in the Sacramento News & Review for their Best of Sacramento 2018 issue. Thank you for trusting us with your story, Mona.
I needed to start this farm.
Rubie Simonsen doesn’t fit the traditional paradigm of a farmer. She’s in her 20s and wears a Frida Kalho t-shirt and has a leather portrait of Kalho on her keychain. She is part of a growing number of millennials intent on making something of the world that surrounds them.
Last year Simonsen went through a seven-month intensive program for first time farmers run by Center for Land-Based Learning based out of Winters, California.
The urban farm on the corner of 5th and C Street in West Sacramento owned by CLBL. Simonsen uses it to grow her crop of specialty herbs that will be the basis for her business, First Mother Farms.
Lemon Balm takes up an entire long row, sage and lavender varietals a couple others. There’s even a row of artichoke planted previously that will be used as a dye. Her favorite crop so far? Marigolds. She touches a plant from each row in turn with a slightly blistered hand.
”I was at my last job,” She says “Sitting at my desk, looking out the window and all I could think about was my farm.” She continues, "I needed to start this farm, to have dirt under my nails and see something grow.”
What is your motivation for the work you have chosen?
I've had the opportunity of working out of the same space as Rocket Department for the last few years. Last spring I met up with them at Maker Faire 10 in San Mateo, Calif. Their Prism Challenge was a laser and mirror feat of engineering technology that was so well attended they had little down time last year.
This year I met up with them as they prepare their most recent light technology installation piece, Project Obelisk. They first showed this installation at TBD Fest 2015 in Sacramento, Calif., a music and food festival organized by Clay Nutting and Michael Haggis.
After spending most of the week preparing for the Eleventh Annual Maire Faire in San Mateo, Calif. the Rocket Department packed all their goodies into a U-Haul and headed off to the event location two hours away in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San Mateo Event Center.
This, their third year coming to the Bay Area Maker Faire will be the year that they have two booths, one showing off the light installation, Project Obelisk, and the second selling their learn to solder kits for emerging makers and engineers of all ages.
Emma Fletcher, a five year attendee and one of the Rocket Department teammates, said the Maker Faire has been instrumental in creating awareness about the learn to solder kits,
"Its been a huge inspiration... This is our first year having a vendor booth and we are really excited to bring the learn to solder kits here and the reception has been awesome. We launched Hue this weekend with our first run of 100 and we're almost sold out. There's about five [units] left. We brought 150 Blink and we're down to the end of that as well."
I met up with Rocket Department Sunday morning, while Andy C. searched out Adam Savage from the TV reality show, "Mythbusters." A little earlier, Andy A. and Kaleb worked the Project Obelisk installation. They occasionally had to tell a few of the youngest faire attendees to please get down from the polyethylene cubes and to stop climbing on them.
One exciting transaction at the Learn to Solder booth Sunday afternoon was when a customer bought 30 of the Blink kits. The company has been selling the kits online for several months, but this was their first large scale in person product sale.
Keep your eye out for what Rocket Department lights up next. I know I will be.