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A team of two

  • Emily Mendell and Ian Healy clean up a row of kale at Handlebar Farm in Sebastopol. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / PD)

Some couples make it a rule not to talk about their jobs once they get home at night. But that's not easy when the two partners work together.

On the other hand, it's good to really know and trust the person one must rely on to get the job done every day.

We talked to three couples — Emily Mendell and Ian Healy of Handlebar Farm in Sebastopol, Graton artists Tony Speirs and Lisa Beerntsen and Francesca and John Vrattos, owners of Yanni's Sausage in Penngrove — who each have made their partnerships both personal and professional.

Here's a closer look at just how they make it work:

Now that they have a spring and fall season behind them, Emily Mendell and Ian Healy of Handlebar Farm in Sebastopol have a better idea of what their customers want them to grow.

Along the way, the couple has also picked up a few important lessons about how to manage a relationship when you're together around the clock.

“The biggest thing that I have learned... is that it's best to not micro-manage each other,” said Healy, 29.

“We allow each other to work independently more than we used to, and we trust that the other person is perfectly capable of doing a good job.”

Although they both plant, weed and harvest the 2-acre vegetable farm, they have each developed their own areas of expertise.

A researcher and planner by nature, the 30-year-old Mendell is in charge of the planting schedule, including what varieties of seeds to plant when, ensuring that the farm has enough ripe produce to sell each week.

Whether it's a local restaurant account or Santa Rosa's West End Farmers Market, Healy serves as the face of the farm. Gregarious and outgoing, he delivers and sells the goods and keeps track of the farm's finances.

Although both were born and raised in the Midwest, the pair met while working together at Denali National Park in Alaska. Later, they moved to Bellingham, Wash., where they both got master's degrees in education.

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