Gloria Wallace Greene comes from a long line of farmers. And while growing up on vineyards in Sonoma County where her adventurous viticulturist father, Harold “Bill” Wallace, was busy developing new wine-growing techniques, she was in charge of the family garden, along with canning and pie making. These skills have served her well over the years.
In 1996, Wallace Greene and her husband Patrick founded Flora Farms, a 25-acre organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, where they grow a variety of vegetables and fruits. Over the years, the business has grown to include a 125-acre ranch in nearby Santa Anita where they humanely raise pigs, goats, rabbits, and chickens (for meat and eggs) without hormones or antibiotics.
The ranch is practically a self-contained farm-to-table town: Wallace Green and her team have opened a restaurant, Flora’s Field Kitchen; a grocery store, Flora Farm Grocery; a bar, Flora’a Farm Bar; assorted shops; and 10 Culinary Cottages—handcrafted straw bale cottages—where people live. (Some are still for sale, but only to those who receive a private invitation.) Wallace Greene says the expansion of Flora Farms was a natural progression: The grocery store provided their customers with the farm’s produce, meat, and homemade goods, and the Farm Bar was built because “people liked to hang out and enjoy cocktails,” she says. We’ll buy that logic.
Modern Farmer: Why do you consider yourself a modern farmer?
Gloria Wallace Greene: Because having grown up on a farm or ranch, I learned at a very early age you need to be able to think outside the box to sustain this way of living. And I feel like with Flora Farms we have been able to incorporate the community by providing people with what they need before they know they need it.
MF: Why is it important to you to support local agriculture?
GWG: We started our local farmers market here at the farm and it was an alien idea for our community at that time; by disseminating seeds and organic growing techniques, organic farming has become part of the fabric of our community.
MF: If you could grow or raise any food or animal, what would it be and why?
GWG: I would like to raise Indian Runner Ducks. They are ducks that look like penguins and they are the most amazing pesticide you could find. You can turn them out into an organic field and they would eat any bug, but they would not disturb the plants. They are really cool. I would like a whole herd of them. They are fascinating!
MF: What’s your favorite vegetable?
GWG: I love all of our legumes. They are just beautiful and when they are right off the vine, they are incredible. This climate in Cabo is really wonderful for legumes—and tomatoes!
MF: If you could give other modern farmers any advice, what would it be?
GWG: Don’t go into for the money. It just can’t be for profit. You have to really love farming and find your joy in growing and raising things.
MF: Do you have a farming/agricultural hero? Why do you admire them?
GWG: Yes, my dad. He was the first viticulturist in California from UC Davis, and he was a pioneer in so many techniques in growing grapes. He was a believer in a lifestyle that you create yourself.
MF: What was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in regard to farming? How did you solve it?
GWG: Our first year we started growing basil for the local “ejido” (in Mexico, an area of communal land used for agriculture) and we monocropped our whole field with basil—and in our second year of doing that, we got a blight that wiped out the whole crop and the entire field. We just decided that we would never monocrop again.
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