Woodside, California

I like to shop local when I can, to save on food miles as well as ensuring I’m eating good fresh produce, so I was delighted when Karen Morss agreed to donate 50 lemons to the cause. Karen’s sweet Meyer lemons are organically grown just a few miles from my current temporary home in Woodside. A half dozen have now been incorporated into some buckwheat crackers (lemon and asparagus flavour) that are drying out in my dehydrator as I write.

As well as lemons, I got a hefty dollop of inspiration when I went to meet her. Karen is a one-woman dynamo. At about five foot nothing, she makes up for lack of height with an abundance of energy. After running her own software company for 20 years, she decided to get her pilot’s license. But she didn’t think the flight school was up to scratch. So she bought it and improved it until it was good enough – acquiring a test pilot husband into the bargain.

She’d promised herself 5 years with the flight school, and true to her word, she sold it on the 5th anniversary of the purchase. Then she wrote a screenplay for a movie about the Wright Brothers (still to be made), which involved reading 2400 pages of handwritten letters written by their sister. And now she grows lemons. She rattled off her life story with a briskness that I suspect she brings to all her dealings. I imagine problems and obstacles get very short shrift.

This is her first year of lemon production, and already the yield from 40 tiny trees is exceeding all expectations – which pretty much sums up Karen’s life.

I asked Karen what her one top tip for success in business would be. This is what she said:

My father said it best when he told me he would rather see me sell apples on a streetcorner than become the VP of General Motors. That way I would always make my own destiny. I am a big believer in making destinies! If you can dream it, you can believe it. If you can believe it, you can do it.

Photo: Each of the trees is named after a woman who has inspired Karen at some stage of her life, and I was immensely flattered when she asked if she could name a tree in my honour. So after Roz the Albatross, we now have Rosalind the Lemon Tree. The photo shows me with my namesake. I’m the one on the right.

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