Band of Beauty

Wreath maker Shelly Yoshiwara…

If you ask her why she holds wreath classes in her Churn Creek Bottom greenhouse, Shelley Yoshiwara will laugh and admit she’s addicted to seeds. Her gardener heart was suppressed for the decades she lived in Reno with a climate and ground that were only mildly productive. Now she’s on rich soil with weather to grow things and she’s making up for lost time. “I’m trying to make enough money for my seed habit,” she says with a laugh. “I just spent $100 on seeds last night.”

Kidding aside, the wreath classes Yoshiwara puts together at her Sky Farms are a thoughtful use of her skills and passions, which include bringing people together. “It’s just fun to go to a class with your friends and make something and go home with it,” she says. Plus, she says, “I only have one front door and I only have so many people I can give wreaths to, so why not show other people how to do it? Anyone can make one and walk away with a beautiful wreath for their front door.”

This year, to keep things as safe as possible, she’s offering wreath-making classes to small groups of people. “I’m offering to groups of four or less of people who know each other so everyone is comfortable with one another. It’ll be small so people can social distance. It’s pretty much your own little private party.”

Sky Farms has been a retirement labor of love for Yoshiwara and her husband, Noel, who bought undeveloped land and have been thoughtfully bringing in the things that bring them joy. For Yoshiwara, that means lots of flowers. “We’ve created this oasis out here in our backyard and he does all the maintenance. He pretty much does all the prep so I can get in there and plant.

I followed the sun with the plantings and it’s become a bird sanctuary with all of the trees.”

While she says sunflowers are her passion, there isn’t a flower she isn’t interested in, and she may have missed her calling as a flower farmer. She loves following the flower farmers of Instagram and is in awe of the younger women who have followed their dreams of becoming full-time flower farmers.

At 68 years old, she isn’t prepared to jump entirely into a full-time flower farm business, but she does enjoy welcoming people to the farm for classes. It’s a nice balance to the hustle and bustle she used to experience with customers every day at the drive-through coffee shop she owned in Reno.
Seeing the decline in photo mats and sensing the upcoming trend in specialty coffee, Yoshiwara got in early on the coffee craze and converted a drive-through photo mat into a drive-through coffee house in 1991 after having success taking a coffee cart to craft fairs in the area. When she realized that the first thing she and her best friend did every morning of a craft show was look for good coffee, she knew she could fill a niche for others experiencing the same want. “It was a phenomenon,” she says of the business she ran for 25 years and then sold to her children, who ran it for five before selling.

Still, there wasn’t enough coffee in the world to keep her warm enough in the cold Reno winters. “The older I get, the colder I get,” she says with a laugh. “The winters are so long over there.” She and Noel decided to move to Redding, where the winters are more agreeable and she can be closer to friends. “The two months of heat in Redding versus the six months of cold in Reno is a good tradeoff,” she says.

With this better weather, she’s blossomed in her new endeavors with flowers and wreaths. “This year when I planted my garden I tried to gear it toward more dried flowers so I could put more in my wreaths,” she says. She’s dried citrus for the project and goes on long foraging walks with her best friend to bring back additional design elements. “I’ll never look at a weed the same way,” she says with a laugh, noting that they can really enhance the look of a wreath.

Yoshiwara goes out of her way to create a welcoming experience for her students, who she insists will all be capable of creating a unique decoration. She sets out a charcuterie plate and coffee and tea for guests and creates a wonderland of beauty to inspire. “It’s a creative outlet for me,” she says. She’s ready to help it be so for others, as well.

Shelley Yoshiwara’s Sky Farms
Find them on Instagram HERE

About Melissa Mendonca

Melissa is a graduate of San Francisco State and Tulane universities. She’s a lover of airports and road trips and believes in mentoring and service to create communities everyone can enjoy. Her favorite words are rebar, wanderlust and change.

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