How Farmers and Food Makers Balance Motherhood and Business Ownership

Selina Knowles, Communications Coordinator
May 10, 2024

A selfie of three people smiling on a farm
Sara and Cleo Evett and Sandi McGinnis-Garcia on McGinnis Ranch. Photo courtesy of McGinnis Ranch.

“The perspective of being a mother and working in a professional setting is often overlooked,” says Raquel Goldman, a mother of four and founder of Norte54. All parents are familiar with the creativity, flexibility, and patience required to raise children, but what does it look like to balance this duty with running a food or farm business?

For Mother’s Day, farmers and food makers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Mission Community Market share what it’s like to manage a food business or farm while raising children. Below, hear from Raquel, Jen Musty of Batter Bakery, and Sara Evett of McGinnis Ranch

A selfie of two people at the farmers market
Raquel and Noah Goldman at Mission Community Market. Photo courtesy of Norte54.

Paving a Nonlinear Path and Teaching Cooking Skills

After 15 years as a stay at home mom, Raquel started questioning what she wanted to do next. She had always felt called to cooking and baking, so she embarked on a pastry program at the San Francisco Cooking School in 2018. After completing her program, she honed her skills while working at the restaurant Nopa. 

She was also laying the groundwork for her own business, Norte54, which she started as a pastry box delivery business during the pandemic in 2020. Now, Norte54 is a regular at the Mission Community Market, offering seasonally inspired pan dulce (Mexican pastries).

Reflecting on her culinary journey, Raquel shares, “I’m really proud of jumping into school, working at the restaurant, and now working for myself at the farmers market. It felt risky, but I’m really happy because baking is such an integral part of me now.” She adds that baking also pulls on some of the skills she’s honed as a mother, including time management, people skills, multitasking abilities, and feeding people.

Occasionally, her kids come to help her out at the farmers market, and Raquel is able to share the experience with them. “It’s not just about having their help and their company at the market, but they get to see their mom in a different light. They’re like, ‘Oh my God. Look at all these people that come to get your stuff. That’s cool, mom.’”

At home, Raquel says her kids, Lucas (20), Davi (18), Noah (16), and Josh (14), have grown up to be self-sufficient in the kitchen. Their interest in food, in part, comes from growing up regularly eating home-cooked meals. “I do think it’s important to have them aware of how to cook, where food comes from, and what’s healthy for you,” she says. “But also, even if you’re the greatest chef in the world, you can have a kid who just wants to eat dino chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, and there is this aspect of being flexible.”

Raquel’s advice for mothers is, “Make sure that you have support, that you can reach out to your community, and know that the path isn’t linear. There’s no prescribed way to achieve what you want.”

A woman holds two twin babies at the farmers market
Jen Musty holds her twins at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Leaning on Community and Encouraging Food Curiosity

“As a parent, and especially as farmers and food makers, you have to get creative to make it work,” says Jen Musty, founder of Batter Bakery. “I think we all know that whether something needs to be harvested, baked, packaged, or whatever it is, you just have to figure out a way to make it happen.”

Since Jen had her twins, now a year old, operations at Batter Bakery have looked a little different. “Before kids, I wouldn’t think twice about pulling all-nighters, working 17 hour days, or whatever was needed,” she says. As a new mother, she’s had to redistribute how she uses her time and energy. “It was the first time in my life I physically couldn’t do it all myself.” Now, she leans more on the Batter Bakery team of 6 full-time and 2 to 3 part-time staff.

Before having her kids, Jen thought that owning her business might have prepared her for motherhood. These days, her message to herself and other mothers is to “embrace the chaos and also be forgiving with yourself, your partner, and your kids.”

Jen practices this in the kitchen at Batter Bakery as well as at home. As she encourages her kids to be curious about their food, Jen often holds them up to show them what’s happening on the kitchen counter. Sometimes, she even involves her kids in the process.

“Making food with babies is ridiculously messy and disgusting—there’s food all over every surface of our house—but we really try to embrace the mess so that they can explore and appreciate food,” she says.

Jen hopes to pass down the importance of where food comes from to her kids. “We don’t just go to the grocery store and buy something processed off the shelf,” she’s teaching them. “We want to know where our blueberries are coming from, and how we can turn them into something nutritious.”

When her kids grow up, she looks forward to bringing them to the farmers market. She says, “I want the market community to be a part of their life. I want them to grow up surrounded by food and the food community.”

A selfie of a woman holding a baby on a farm.
Sara and Cleo Evett. Photo courtesy of McGinnis Ranch.

Being Kind to Oneself and Tending the Earth for a Better Future

“When kids know where their food comes from and how much care goes into it, they’re more respectful of it,” says farmer Sara Evett. “It also makes them a little bit more adventurous as far as trying different foods.”

Sara has been farming with her aunt, Sandi McGinnis-Garcia, since 2013. Both grew up on the McGinnis Ranch and attended farmers markets as children. So, when Sara’s grandfather retired in 2015, they stepped in to take over the family farm and began transitioning it to organic. Three years later, in 2018, Sara’s child, Cleo was born. 

“Having Cleo at the farm with me all the time has given her a special childhood, and it’s definitely shaped who she is as a little being,” says Sara. “She is obsessed with reptiles, birds, and plants and can tell you what herb is what.”

It’s not all birds and butterflies though, as Sara does find it challenging to balance being both a mother and a farmer. “Your mind is always in a lot of different places. You’re trying to think about your business, your harvest schedule, your planting schedule, and your child’s schedule.” 

She explains that one of the biggest challenges for her is being kind and understanding to herself in the process of finding a balance. To herself and anyone experiencing a similar struggle, she says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Surround yourself with good people, and it will make both farming and mothering a little bit easier.” Sara’s support system is part of the reason that she hardly misses a Saturday at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. 

As Cleo grows up, Sara is proud to share the beauty of growing plants sustainably with her daughter. “Organic growing is magical, and we’re proving that you don’t have to have very much to make an impact on the planet and in the food system,” she says. “We don’t have a huge farm, but we have our own little spot where we try and make the world a better place. And, she’s a part of that.”

Support Batter Bakery and McGinnis Ranch at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday and Norte54 at the Mission Community Market on Thursday.

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