Using the word “envy” as an imperative, may seem a bit bold or odd, but when it comes to Amy Whelan, how can one not? Her talents include (in no particular order, certainly not chronological order): food stylist, flower grower, flower stylist, therapeutic recreation therapist, pie maker, river rafter, and all around promoter and lover of nature. Really!
Amy lives with her partner, Rishi Schweig, in Inverness Park where she grows flowers as just one of her small endeavors – her term. Courtesy of our local garden genie and bee brain, Rufus, she has a relatively new hive with happy bees close to poppies, (huge purple ones) sweet peas, zinnias, amaranth and so much more. The bees arrived as a swarm within days. Why wouldn’t they? Amy’s garden provides what she needs to deliver those gorgeous arrangements to Saltwater weekly and whenever Luc hosts a special event. Walk up Vallejo from Perry’s and keep looking right. You’ll hear the bees and smell the flowers before you see them in all their drought resistant effulgence. Her Fish Hatchery Flowers is named for the ground it’s on, once the California Trout Farm with at least one remaining cement tank running down into the eponymous creek.
Dear to her heart, and clearly her soul, is Cedars of Marin where Amy has worked for twenty-five years with special needs adults. In the Textile Arts Center on the Ross campus, Amy has created a huge and wondrous garden where participants learn how to be in nature; how to grow food; healthy eating; the joy of working together. Have a look at this lovely video: “Lettuce Bee Healthy.”
That’s just now. Asked how she landed in West Marin, Amy smiles remembering her early love affair with nature. And she was lucky enough to have a wonderful neighbor, Sarah Allen, a Point Reyes National Seashore scientist who brought Amy out to see the elephant seals one day. As with so many of US, that did it. Amy met Rishi, Rishi dated Amy, and the rest is, as they say, all sunshine and flowers.
But wait! In the 80’s Amy ran a river rafting service in Alaska where males with shotguns ruled and she didn’t want one. Amy also worked at Comfort in San Anselmo where she helped with catering and met the wife of a guy making the movie Forrest Gump who said, “Hey, you should be a food stylist!” So, she was.
Take a breath! For the last nine years, Amy has served on the board of the Point Reyes Farmers’ Market. She had a lot to do with coordinating those way cool chef presentations. She is very serious about reminding folks that there are still many row crop farmers nearby, supporting our locavorian good health. Get ready! The opening of the market is next Saturday. Be there, be well, be happy.