The “Good Humor Lady” of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market: A Profile of Coral Clark
Growing up on the small island of Harbor View, Connecticut (population 112) Coral Clark learned the qualities of self-sufficiency, inventiveness, and community-mindedness. These characteristics combined to make her the successful weaver, knitter, and farmer that she is today, as well as a beloved member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
Reading Farmer Boy, the second book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s treasured “Little House” series, had a huge impact on young Coral. It taught her that “the beauty of working with anything from the earth is that you can become self-sufficient.” Growing up, her family produced 85% of what they needed to live. Coral has been on her five-acre farm in Ribera, New Mexico for over 30 years, growing flowers, milking her cows, and weaving and knitting. This season at the market, she sold 79 flats of petunias alone, while marketing her yarn and handwoven garments to customers spanning from Hawaii to the Florida Panhandle. She is proud to say that she put four kids through college and built her house out of the money spun.
Coral’s mother taught her to knit and crochet at the age of three. Her brother learned how to knit the nets for his boat, and is an expert wood-worker. She says that “all of my kids know how to spin and work a loom.” Anyone visiting her booth is taken by the beauty of the colors of her yarn. Coral feels that she was always “good with color. All my blends and colors have stories. The greens reflect the trees on the island where I grew up, the browns capture the seaweed that I swam in, the sunset colors remind me of a dust storm of nine years ago, and the purples were inspired by the richly hued lavender seeds in the center of my market neighbor Anna Mae Salazar’s incredible sunflowers from her Flor del Rio Farm: they had chartreuse petals with purple interior seeds. Santa Fe’s most popular color is turquoise, but more blacks and neutrals go home to New York.”
Her wool — primarily a combination of alpaca, mohair, and wool — is all sourced from the fifteen Northern New Mexico Counties. The alpaca comes from a mill and women’s collective in Moro and the mohair comes from McIntosh, south of Moriarty. Lately she has been exploring working with rabbit and hemp. A practicing Buddhist, she believes in “putting seeds of intention out into the community.” She recognizes that we’re all inter-connected: getting her wool from the women’s collective generates revenue for the women in Mora. “Paying the neighborhood kids to come over and weed teaches them the value of working with their hands.”
Coral has been a member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market for 23 years. She served on the Board of Directors at the time of the development of the building. “All of my kids grew up in the market – everyone kept an eye on them. With the expansion of the market, there have been changes over the years. We’re watching the end of a cycle – many of us are over 65 now. We’re happy to see the younger farmers coming in. This is natural, nothing is permanent – things change, like the seasons.”
So why is she dubbed the “Good Humor Lady?” She explains, “I have milk cows, so on Saturday mornings I bring homemade ice cream to give away to the farmers.” A dollop of ice cream sets a sweet tone to start the day and encourages the family feeling that Coral Clark has fostered throughout her more than two decades at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
Meet Coral, at her Coral’s Wool booth #4, on Saturday Mornings at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, 1607 Paseo de Peralta, year-round 8am-1pm.