For many of us, raising our family on an island will remain a dream. But for others, it’s a life they’ve been bold enough to chase and embrace...
For Francesca Munizaga – a florist, mother of twins and founder of The Farm Ibiza – a special place in Ibiza dedicated to growing “flowers, fruits and vegetables using permaculture techniques and love’ – it was probably always on the cards given her own upbringing. She was born in Chile and her early years were spent in what she describes as “a kind of hippy community, on a little beach on the central coast of Chile called Horcone.”
Francesca now lives on an organic farm in the northern part of the island, where they grow their own food and have a pomegranate plantation. While the pandemic has thrown many challenges into their world, here we offer a glimpse of their life, captured way before any of us had heard of Covid-19 and find out how Francesca navigates motherhood. As you’ll discover, no matter where you are in the world, we all have our own struggles and joys of motherhood. Ready to step inside this dreamy home? Here we go. Let’s escape!
*This interview was done before the COVID-19 pandemic (you know, back when we could travel to places like Ibiza and capture these heavenly stories to share with you).
Can you describe your childhood? Where did you grow up?
I was born in ’78 in Chile. In my first years, I grew up in a kind of hippy community, on a little beach on the central coast of Chile called Horcone.
I have beautiful memories of long days on the beach, with big groups of naked women with their beautiful kids, totally immersed in nature with bonfires and so on. My mother had me when she was 19 and my father was a philologist who was 12 years older. At that time he was experimenting with hallucinogens and spirituality.
After a few years, my grandmother encouraged us to leave and follow her to Reñaca, another little beach town, where I went to a Nun’s school and my life become much more structured and very different.
Tell us a little bit about life in Ibiza...
We live on our organic farm in the northern part of the island, we grow our own food, and we have a pomegranate plantation all following permaculture ideals. I have to say that I’ve been in love with Ibiza since day 1!
Besides the natural beauty of the island, here you breathe freedom. I think it comes from the personality of the “payeses;” the people who were born here, who are generally farmers and fishermen. They have always been open to the people who have arrived on the island, without judgement. This has involved painters, writers and bohemians after the Second World War, then the hippies of the ’60s and ’70s. The mix of creatives and “out of the box” people create an amazing atmosphere. So much so that even now, the island – having changed so much – still calls special people who decide to live here.
Of course, summers are a bit overwhelming, as too many people arrive on the island looking for a party. But the good thing is that the island is big enough and you always have secret places to escape from the mundane!
The northern part of the island where I live is still unspoiled and is heaven: there are no clubs, it’s very relaxed but is also international. It is where most of the families who live in Ibiza live year-round.
Life here is really beautiful; you are surrounded by nature, delicious weather and a lot of like-minded and inspiring people, so you never get bored.
What type of mother do you aspire to be? What approach do you take to parenting?
This is a difficult one. As a mother, you always question yourself and you never know if you are doing it right or wrong. Being a mother of twins for the first time has been very challenging. I always feel that I am not enough; there’s not enough milk, I don’t have enough time for each of them, etc…
I give them a lot of freedom and space to explore. Communication is also a big base in our life; there is nothing that we can not talk about. I don’t like to be strict, but of course, there are limits. I try to set my boundaries not around social beliefs or manners, but around respect and empathy with others, which are my pillars of education.
Modern perceptions would lead us to believe that Ibiza is a completely idyllic life … Is this the case? Or do the pressures of modern parenting still exist even in such a gorgeous location?
I love life in Ibiza, but even here you feel the pressure of modern parenting. Why did you vaccinate? Why do you give pizza – full of gluten – to your kids every week? Why don’t you make ice cream at home instead of buying these unhealthy ones at the beach? Blah, blah, blah.
I’m a not very dogmatic person, I love to have a healthy lifestyle, but I also think it is very important to have moments of treating yourself where you indulge. I feel this is part of a healthy lifestyle, because in the end, healthy means happy.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in island life?
The future school situation could be a problem because there are not many good options for children once they turn 12 years old, and there are also no universities. But it is something that I don’t think about too much right now as my kids are only almost 3 years, so there is a long way to go and many things can change!
Also, when it comes to cultural life, here there is almost nothing. But it’s okay, as long I can escape now and then on holidays to great cities.
What’s your favourite part about living in Ibiza?
I love the mix of people who live here and I love the laid back life with this delicious rhythm, that gives you the opportunity to be more connected with yourself and with nature
What sort of example do you hope to set for your children?
Since I’ve had them, I feel a responsibility to teach them how to love and take care of our planet. I try to teach them the importance of growing your food, watering plants, recycling and feeling compassion for whatever is alive.
I also want them to understand how lucky they are and appreciate the beautiful life they have; surrounded by love, beauty and nature, with more than they need. I think is so important to be grateful in life, so I want them to learn to see the glass as full, as this will help them so much in life.
Tell us about The Farm...
The Farm is our life project. Alonso and I came up with the idea of having a little hotel; a place where we could merge all our passions; decorating, hosting, gardening, flowers and food. When we decided to have kids, we decided to follow our dreams. We spent one year looking for properties and that same time to fall pregnant.
It was a challenging process to find exactly what we wanted; something that allowed us to apply for hotel licence, while finding land big enough for agriculture production.
When we saw this property, we knew it was the one. The day before we signed the purchase, we were told I was pregnant!
So Alonso did the renovations by himself; working so hard to have the house ready when the kids were born.
For now, we’re still waiting for the hotel licence, but we have already started with the agricultural work. We planted 2000 pomegranates trees, as we hope to do an antioxidant juice and a range of other products. We are also now growing some cut flowers that I use for my new business, “The Farm Floral Studio.”
We are not in a rush. We trust the process and its rhythm. We also need time to watch our kids grow and to raise capital, so I am sure the license will arrive at the perfect time!
How have you approached your career? Do you actively set goals or targets? Or are you more free-spirited about your progression?
I knew having kids would change my life completely, but until I had them I didn’t understand how deeply. I dedicated the first years to them, with my husband working in Madrid during the week. It just felt right for me to be fully present.
When they started going to nursery and I had some time for myself again, and I wanted to go back to work, but I felt the need to do something that really made me happy, and to find a passion. I want to be an example for my kids and I want them to see me passionate and fulfilled.
I always loved flowers and when I was producing events, the part I loved the most was always the styling (table settings and so on) but I never thought that could be a job. The idea started growing in my mind, and I talked with my husband who totally supported me.
I went to the best flower school in London and here I am, starting my new business. I already have my first contracts and I feel so excited and full; I know I will grow and succeed.
How have you found the experience of being a mother of twins?
Being a mother of twins as a new mother was quite challenging. I always had the sensation of not being enough, not giving enough time to each of them, not being organized enough … But we survived!
I had an amazing maternity nurse from South America who gave me all the knowledge, support and confidence that I was lacking. The kids started growing and developing the beautiful, special relationship that I dreamt of since the day I knew they were twins. (I didn’t have this same connection with my siblings because I have a 10 and 14-year gap with my sister and brother.)
Now I’m the happiest mom, full of love. Of course, they are still very challenging, but I would not change it for anything. Being a mother changed me so deeply. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to grow with them. Children give you an injection of love that you can’t compare to anything in the world.
How has your experience of parenting been thus far? What about pregnancy?
I had the most beautiful, healthy and pleasant pregnancy. No nausea, no pains … Nothing. It was only in the last two months that I experienced difficulties in getting to sleep as I was so big! But I was able to swim, walk and enjoy myself until the day before the delivery.
The delivery was different. Here, twins are considered risky and I had to deliver in an operating theatre, alone. I ended up having a c-section because the babies didn’t turn. This was okay, but I was so nervous about being there alone. It wasn’t how I dreamed and I think it’s a shame that systems, doctors and rules can transform the happiest and most special day of your life. Honestly, I felt very traumatized, angry and sad.
Now, I have a different perspective and I’m grateful to have the gift of being the mother of such shining souls.
What are some of your favourite brands/stores for fashion - for both yourself and your children?
For myself, I really love vintage. One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to go to flea markets and discover secret vintage stores around the world. I don’t believe in fast fashion. Of course, I like some big names that make divine things, but what I enjoy most is discovering and supporting brands that are personal projects, family businesses and those that have beautiful stories behind them. Instagram is the perfect source for this.
And of course, I love to support designers from the island! There are a few that are amazing, like Yvone Sporre, Johnny Mesq and Vicente Ganesha: all of them make clothes for mums and kids and they are a must from the island.
For kids, I really love Liilu Kids and Instagram discoveries; they make the most timeless and stylish mousseline garments that are perfect for Ibiza summers. I also like Bobo Choses and Little Creative Factory, both of which are from Barcelona
What’s your approach to self-care? Do you make time for it? Do you exercise?
I get a bit nervous and I also love to eat, so I try to give to my self 4-5 days a week of Pilates, running or yoga. Of course it’s not always possible, but I do my best.
I love food but I try to eat healthily during the week. Then on the weekend, I give myself all the indulgence I want, as a happy life is all about balance!
What books are on your bedside table?
I’m a book addict! I don’t watch TV or Netflix. I love to read, and while I love real books, since becoming a mother, I use a Kindle so I don’t need to turn on the lights! I read so many different types of books simultaneously; from parenting advice, to novels, spirituality, psychology, history and so on.
What's on your current list of loves?
Flowers! What I love most is to walk in the fields and collect foliage and flowers. I have my gardening scissors in my car so every time that I see something that I like, I stop and go for it! I am also loving tahini for baking, dressings and healthy sweet treats like crackers with tahini, banana and a bit of honey. Try it!