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Eagle in November
By Rye Muller
Still, smoky air settles in the valley
The hills appear as paintings in fall’s cold haze
Days of November
Yesterday we sowed our cover crops,
Today, rain falls kindly on that soil
Seeds set free
Fruit trees that speckle our land
Welcome winter winds
Yellow leaves blanket orchard floors
The sleepy sun sits low in the sky
A shadow twice my size at noon
Days of dusk so it seems
Fall brings a quiet stillness
Spring brought flowers and summer the fruit
Now we listen
Naked trees with canopies of blackbirds
Resting together, hardly moving
Until the Eagle stakes its claim
Silence makes easy prey
If they dare move
Coddled in dry nests
Golden hills of the valley now turn grey
Worn by sun and hoof
Wait patiently for rain
Not all is seen in fall pastel
Bright turnip, carrot and beet
Glow beneath our feet
Buds on the tree dream of spring swell
Coyotes sing to solstice moons
Rivers rage and rise
Two Eagles build a nest
Atop the tallest oak tree
Mates for life this mighty pair
Somehow they see a glimmer of spring
Tomorrow’s warmth in today’s cold hands
Wing in wing they prepare
Hatching love, a sprouting seed
Egg to Eagle, grain to bread
To this the farmer bows his head
Let us always remember
To give love, peace and thanks
For the Eagle in November
Full Belly Farm is taking a 4-week break in December/ January. We will NOT be making any CSA deliveries from December 6th through January 3, 2016. We appreciate and Thank You so much for your support this past year!
Happy Holidays from Full Belly Farm!
We are excited to offer shares of our pasture raised, organically fed hogs. Born and raised on Full Belly Farm, these pigs have never been confined, have had acres to roam and root around, and are the perfect addition to your holiday feast!
Your investment of $80 will yield approx. 7 pounds of pork.
The following are the cuts of pork included in the Holiday Share:
2 packages of bacon – 1 cottage style & 1 regular style
3 packages of sausage – 1 fresh sausage, 1 bratwurst style & 1 Italian style
1 package loin chops – 2 chops per package
Additional pork cuts available for add on:
- Pork Fat – 4.5lbs – $20
- Pork Soup Bones – 5.5lbs – $20
- Pork Offal – includes one each of liver, heart, pancreas, and kidney – $20
- Trotters (feet) – 8 pack – $30
Shares can be picked up at our Farmers Market stands or at our farm. Sorry, no shipping. Existing CSA customers may have shares delivered to select CSA sites.
To order, please contact us! Orders for 2015 must be placed by November 30, 2015.
No matter what the World Health Organization says, Full Belly farmers are eating more bacon this winter – and you should too!
It is so easy to increase the amount of Full Belly in your life! CSA members can special order almost anything from our farm to be delivered to your pick-up site. Sorry, no Virginia Street special orders. If you would like to order the following items, please contact us at 800-791-2110 or email@example.com.
Almond Butter is Back! – $15/ jar – ask about bulk orders
Almonds – Raw $12/ pound -OR- Roasted $7/ half pound -OR- Tamari $7/ half pound
Walnuts – $10/ pound
Iraqi Durum Wheat Flour – $3/ 1.5 pounds.
Iraqi Durum Wheat Berries – $3/ 2 pounds.
Cotton Bags (11.5 x 12.5 inches) – $8 for 5 bags (includes sales tax).
Please place your order at least five days prior to your intended delivery date.
Our frozen pomegranate juice is back. This juice was pressed from our organic pomegranate crop. It is not pasteurized. It will be delivered to your pick-up site frozen. (Sorry, no home deliveries or delivery to the Virginia St, Berkeley site.)
Pomegranate Juice: $7 per pint or $13 per quart
Please Return Our Green ‘Stop Waste’ Boxes
Full Belly used to pack your CSA fruits and veggies into waxed cardboard boxes. Now we use the hard plastic, green ‘Stop Waste’ boxes. We made this change in late 2013 because although we were able to reuse the waxed cardboard boxes a few times, they had to go to the landfill once they started to break down. Because of the wax coating, they were not recyclable and without the wax coating they really didn’t hold up for more than one use. The hard plastic Stop Waste totes that we use now have proven extremely durable — we are not aware of even one box that has broken since they were purchased. That means that these boxes can be used over and over again.
Every week, for 48 weeks of the year, 1,100 families get a Full Belly CSA box. That’s a lot of boxes (52,000 — but who’s counting!) We calculate that more than 6 tons of cardboard waste are avoided every year as a result of replacing the waxed cardboard with the permanent hard plastic boxes. We used an Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Emissions calculator and estimate that switching from waxed cardboard boxes to reusable plastic totes has resulted in an annual rate of greenhouse gas emission reductions of 34.1 tons. So the program is a success in many respects. [Read more…]
There are many threads of experience over the last few weeks that might be woven into a Beet article this morning. Last night, the board of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance came to the farm for a tour and dinner. Fifty folks, mostly from the midwest, were here as part of their annual board meeting in Sacramento. We had an afternoon walk down the county road that divides the farm and talked about our approach to farming and the reasons that our farm is designed as it is. Most of the farmers were corn and soybean growers and all were tied deeply to these two crops that dominate the midwestern landscape.
A walk is the best way to talk about the farm and about our approach to soil health, insect ecology, integrating livestock, cropping patterns, diversity, economic viability and creativity. Our evolving farm design came from the fertile minds of four partners, great employees, and increasingly now, from the contributions of our children. [Read more…]
Full Belly has opened a new CSA pick up site in the “Inner Sunset” neighborhood on Lawton Ave in San Francisco. The new site is listed on our web page. If you are interested in joining, please fill out the on-line application form. Please spread the word and tell your family, friends and co-workers about the new CSA site. Thanks!
What is happening at this time of year in Full Belly Farm’s fields? Our CSA boxes give a hint of changes, containing cool weather greens alongside the last of summer’s harvest. Does the change in season bring a change in rhythm to the farm? We still have a big crew working every day, and one person who can answer these questions and who is very important in organizing the day’s work, is Juan Jacobo Berrelleza, known to us all as Pancho.
Pancho lives a few miles up the road from the farm with his wife Nina, and two kids Joel (16) and Julia (12). He has worked at Full Belly since 1992 when he was 18, with only a short break for several years when he farmed with relatives.
I asked Pancho to talk with me about his work so that I could share some of his story with our CSA members. He was a bit reluctant to take time away from a long list of things that he was hoping to get done. This interview wasn’t on the morning’s list. After talking with him, I understood that he carries in his head, knowledge of all of Full Belly’s equipment, the crews, the fields and their condition, and a timeline of what needs to be finished in the window allowed by our climate and cropping plans. [Read more…]
Many of our crew members celebrate Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is a Mexican holiday when family and friends gather to remember those who have died. Traditional decorations include marigold flowers, and those in this beautiful room are from Full Belly Farm. (Photo courtesy D. Runsten.)
Since 1992, Full Belly members and Clinic volunteers have supported delivery of 5 CSA boxes per week to clients of the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic in Oakland. You can be a part of this program by letting us know that you want to donate one or more of your CSA boxes (for example when you are going out of town) or by making a direct contribution. We currently have boxes scheduled through the end of 2015, but there are not sufficient funds to continue beyond that point. A letter from one of the Charlotte Maxwell volunteers follows.
We want to express heartfelt gratitude from the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic to Full Belly CSA members.
The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC) provides free integrative care to low-income women with cancer. As a CMC volunteer and long-time Full Belly Farm CSA member, I am delighted to know that the women who come to CMC in Oakland can get the same life-sustaining produce that I am fortunate enough to receive every week in my own box from FBF. [Read more…]
We are eeking our way into fall this week. Temperatures have been quite warm and the relief of chilly nights and cool days hasn’t yet come to us. The year has been noticeably warmer in both the exceptionally warm and dry January and February, and a noticeable multi-year pattern of warm and dry fall weather.
There have been some interesting repercussions of these patterns. Instead of the year being a gentle push between winter storms, we started the year with a sprint. Dry weather means that the soil is dry enough to plant, cultivate and harvest – and irrigate. When there is little rainfall, we have made the deficit up with irrigation from the wells on the farm and from Cache Creek flowing on the east side of our farm. The pace didn’t slow down this year. As a farmer, one doesn’t know if the window in a dry February will be closed by a cold wet March, or a prolonged wet spring that doesn’t allow one to get into the fields to plant seed and grow spring and summer crops, so one plants when the soil is ready. A dry spring means that the work doesn’t slow down – generally until late fall. [Read more…]
One of the highlights of our spring this year were the beautiful flower fields and the wonderful flower bouquets that we made in record numbers. From Agrostemma to Zinnia, this was a record year for flowers. As one of the people who often helps to organize the store orders that come in every day I have been struck by the fact that our flower buyers had their orders in often and early, while in contrast it was sometimes quite an effort to track down the produce buyers. Our friends in the stores don’t want to miss out on the flowers!
Some of you may have seen our “wreath room” — a small barn at the farm where we hang fresh flowers from the ceiling to dry. This barn has seen many people coming and going over the years, and it had a very close call in the early morning last Sunday, when the strong Hoes Down wind blew a spark from a grill towards some bins next to the barn, which smoldered for a while and then almost burnt the whole barn down. A camper alerted the Rivers-Muller household and quick work soon put the fire out, but not before some damage had been done to the north wall. What a close call! [Read more…]
Hoes Down Festival Fun!
Our Hoes Down has come and gone — but it left some magical memories. Adventures and fun filled the day. One of the most memorable moments will go down in the history books. It occurred when the heavens opened up with a downpour that sent a few folks running for cover while the farmers jumped for joy. Our sound man ripped out the electrical connections and moved his crew on-stage to clear off his equipment and get it out of the rain. The band on stage was The Dixie Giants. When they lost their sound system, they gazed at the heavens and took a deep breath. Stepping off the stage, they were engulfed by the crowd where they continued their Dixie magic, leading the crowd on a short meander. Finding a tent that they could fit under, they continued to play their amazing music to a crowd of ecstatic, hollering fans. Within 5 minutes, the rain had stopped and with a diminished sound system the next band was soon able to play, but not before the Dixie Giants finished their set with inspiring acoustic music that set the crowd afire. Lightning had been lighting up the sky for some time, and it continued for hours. In the campsite no one took their eyes off it and everyone lined up in their lawn chairs to enjoy the beautiful light show, something that few native Californians have ever seen before in their home state. [Read more…]
On Sunday night we all went down to the creek to watch the lunar eclipse. It was the perfect end to all of the farm cleaning that was done that day to prepare for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival this coming Saturday.
I have two weeks left in my internship. I arrived on the farm a year ago Sunday, and was initiated into the Full Belly life through the craziness that is the week before Hoes Down. When I look back on my time here, I am amazed to see what I have learned and accomplished.
I learned how to work in a greenhouse and plant the seeds that became the transplants which grew into all of this summer’s melons and tomatoes. I sat on the sled on the back of a tractor and transplanted acres of asparagus and winter greens. I learned how to harvest and pack watermelon daikon and sun gold cherry tomatoes, among other varieties of produce, for restaurant orders and CSA boxes. I was taught how to pack those orders onto pallets and load them onto delivery trucks, and then I got up at 3:00 AM the next morning to sell those vegetables at the Farmers Market. [Read more…]
Another summer has come and gone at Full Belly Farm. Baby goats were born, tomatoes were packed, and our bellies were filled with delicious summer bounty. The farmers from Full Belly generally do not count time in ‘day-to-day’ – instead, we observe the changing seasons by the way the mornings feel (the cooler the better!), the flavors of the fruit, and the events that take place in our valley. The fall is a time when the Full Belly farmers celebrate the whirlwind that is our summertime. It is a precious time, full of total exhaustion and excitement, as we mark our calendars and create no fewer than fifty “to-do” lists to prepare for the wonderful festival that reminds us all to share the beauty of farm life. This year marks the 28th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. We hope you will join us. In case you need extra convincing, we have created a list of the Top Ten Reasons to come to the Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Full Belly Farm:
#10 – The Location – If you and your family have yet to visit Full Belly Farm, this is a perfect time to do so! Not only are there walking tours (three of them!) of the entire farm throughout the day, but you will also get to see the animals and crops that we watch over each year. Come see a working farm get transformed into a full-on Festival! [Read more…]
I began working at Full Belly Farm as an education coordinator. The other Beet articles that I have written have all been based around that. I love being part of the education program that the farm has, but those responsibilities do not always fill up my time. There are other projects I find myself working on during the year. These include the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, which is right around the corner. I don’t have to tell you that, as I am sure you have already purchased your tickets. Farming projects such as planting, packing, harvesting, and weeding also fill my time. However, the projects I love the most are connected with cooking at Full Belly Kitchen (http://fullbellyfarm.com/events/full-belly-kitchen/).
In May we completed our certified kitchen and it is beautiful. The inside is crafted using exposed wood, lovely butcher-block counter tops and large hill-covered storage rooms. The outside is covered in reclaimed redwood panels from barns around Yolo County. Other parts of the building have sand and clay from the creek bed to give it a natural adobe look. On top of all, that the grounds are excellently landscaped with native plants growing all around. My favorite part of the whole building though, is the fun and imaginative creations happening inside. [Read more…]
Richard Rominger (behind) listening to Jerry Brown (center) at the Day in the Country fundraiser (9/13) for the Yolo Land Trust. Dozens of chefs from all over the Bay Area and Sacramento regions used locally grown products to wow hundreds of guests. The display (left) features donated late summer tomatoes, quince, apples, winter squash, cucumbers and peppers.
Our crew started this morning, Labor Day, at 7:00am. We had been starting at 6:00 and then 6:30, but as days shorten, the workday changes with the morning light. Like so many mornings over this long summer, our crew of 85 men and women came to work to pick, plant, clean fields, change pipes and pack our harvest for distribution to the many purchasers of our produce. For the more than 30 years of this farm, we have all worked on labor day—perhaps missing the central point of the day, to honor and acknowledge the contribution of those who keep our world moving.
Most California farms probably were at work today—I know of few who can stop to relax. There is harvest for example—that window when the crop is ready and the market has a place for what you have tended and raised. To miss or slow for even a day changes the ability to be at the market tomorrow, for example Tuesday’s farmers market would be a bit emptier. Wholesalers, restaurants and stores expect crops to appear and abundant displays to be refilled. [Read more…]
My sister recently asked me to participate in a project to get writers, scientists and artists to write letters to their children’s children, telling future members of their own family living at the turn of the century, what it was like to be alive during and after the historically crucial events of the U.N. climate talks in Paris at the end of 2015. The project is a national effort of alternative weekly newspapers that will connect with millions of readers.
To Future Farmers,
I can’t imagine what it will be like for you, so many years in the future, but I hope that some elements of the California landscape are still there for you. I hope that the terrifically productive, deep soils that grow so much sweet and sustaining food will endure. I hope that the beautiful full moon will still be floating across the night sky encouraging seeds to sprout and grow.
When the oak trees that I planted here at Full Belly Farm are 100 years old they will still be youngsters. As teenage oak trees, they will tower over the comings and goings – native Californians watching the changes coming over the landscape. Sometimes I try to imagine the lifespan of the oak trees on our farm. Some of them were here when the Indians roamed. All of them have their roots deep in the California soil. I hope that some of the oak trees that I planted will still be here for you, the future farmers, overseeing your planting, weeding and harvesting. I hope that they will still be healthy in your time. But if the climate has changed drastically, what will happen? [Read more…]
Amon and Rye Muller digging post holes for the new Full Belly Farm sign that has gone up at the top of our road. Next time you visit the farm, you will get to see it!
It was my parent’s 32nd wedding anniversary last week. To me, along with wishing them a happy day and giving them a big sloppy smooch on the cheek, this also meant working along side them on the farm on another hot summer day.
There are challenges and incredible benefits to working with my family members. As sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers, we are all joined in the valiant effort of trying to feed the souls and bellies of those who surround us. Additionally, we all try to remember to ask how weekends went, how children are, and check in with each other on a personal level. During these long summer days, it would be easy to slide into work and forget that we are family. [Read more…]
You are all invited to the 28th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival taking place on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th at Full Belly Farm. Make a corn husk doll, paint a gourd, tour the farm, make ice cream, or try your hand in any step of the process from sheep to shawl. Dozens of hands-on workshops are offered on topics like organic fruit trees, grass-fed beef production, cow milking, herbs and flowers, small farm equipment and more! All of these activities are included in the price of admission. We have our music lineup chosen, from the contra dance led by Driving with Fergus to Wolfthump, the Dixie Giants and The Humidors.
The Hoes Down is hosted by dozens of Capay Valley Farms and community organizations. The real muscle of the day are hundreds of volunteers who become a part of the Hoes Down by giving their time at one of the food booths, in the children’s area, in the parking lot — or in many other ways. Volunteer shifts are 3 or 4 hours and we appreciate all of our volunteers by offering them free entry and camping. We are ready to sign you up for your shift — You can contact the Hoes Down volunteer coordinator through a portal on the Hoes Down web site volunteer page — we’ll get right back to you.
All proceeds from the Hoes Down are donated back to community organizations that participated in the weekend. For more information: http://www.hoesdown.org.
Our amazing Full Belly Farm Market Crew – from left to right:
Shohei, Ellen, Becca, Ben & Baron
One of the kids in the Sprouts Cooking Club (www.sproutscookingclub.org/), where they teach kids how to cook!
The Lunch Table
As an intern at Full Belly, one of my responsibilities is cooking lunch once a week. Every day we gather together to pause and share a meal. It is a much-needed respite after a long morning and provides the nourishment and energy we all need to finish the day. Sitting down alongside your friends and coworkers is lovely, but to be honest my lunch day is often the most stressful day of the week. The interns all take the responsibility of cooking a nourishing and filling meal for the hardworking farmers very seriously. It can lead to a lot of worry over having made enough, making sure there’s protein and other nutrient-dense foods, and hopefully that it tastes good as well! But, as is often the case, situations that are the most challenging turn out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling. Despite the ever-present anxiety of my lunch day I have learned so much in our little hodgepodge intern kitchen. It is in the kitchen, creating dishes out of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables grown on this farm, that the purpose of what this farm does rings the most true: we’re growing food.
Of course I’ve only stated the obvious, but with the busyness of summer rushing by us, and the whirlwind of each day exhausting us by nightfall, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. There is a reason each farm worker gets up before dawn, puts his or her all into every undertaking, and keeps at it until the work gets done. And that reason is your dinner plate. I can’t think of any other job or task that has such a tangible and meaningful purpose. Working on a farm makes one realize that food is more than just a commodity picked up easily at a grocery store, something cheap or expendable. Rather it is something you have devoted great quantities of your energy into and in turn is something that nourishes you and returns your investment fully. There is something soul-satisfying about cooking with vegetables that you have had a hand in seeding, planting, weeding, and harvesting. But fortunately it isn’t necessary to be a farmer to have the same sense of well-being about the food you eat. Planning your diet to include mainly seasonal foods and what is grown near you will inevitably connect you more closely to the cycles of nature and bring you into a community of people striving to turn the tide of our food system. [Read more…]
Full Belly’s Farmers Market stand at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco last weekend.
“Here in California
The fruit hangs heavy on the vine
There is no gold
I thought I’d warn you
And the hills turn brown in the summertime”
So wrote Kate Wolf in the early 1980’s. This song was, and remains, one of my favorite folk songs of all times. Having spent my childhood roaming the green hills of verdant Vermont in the summer, California came as a shock to me upon moving here in my late teens. It was as if winter was summer and summer was winter, in some strange disorienting fashion. In fact, thinking of it in these terms has helped to reorient my California seasonality these many years later. The summer hills here are dry brown, akin to the dead of winter in a January Vermont below-zero season. Things die and are reborn in the spring there; here it is the dry summer that is reborn with the life giving rains in the fall. [Read more…]
The Heirloom Tomato
Many of the tomatoes that we call ‘heirlooms’ today were developed in home gardens in the 19th century. Without refrigerated transport or large-scale farming, tomatoes were grown according to the characteristics of each region, and eaten vine ripened. Although the majority of the tomato varieties grown in the U.S. before the Civil War have long since disappeared, a small number of gardeners in many different regions kept growing the varieties they knew, whether green or orange, bumpy or freckly, pulpy or crisp.
In the1930s and ‘40s, agriculture turned away from this wide array of open-pollinated crops and towards a narrow range of hybrid crops. As this occurred, there was a substantial increase in the scale of farming, the widespread application of synthetic fertilizers, and the growth of agribusiness. The tomato changed radically. The long reign of the uniformly bright red, round tomato had begun. Standard sizes and shapes were easier to distribute, and were considered more attractive on grocery-store shelves. For decades it was nearly impossible to buy an ‘heirloom’ tomato, and gardeners had to search far and wide to find the seeds. [Read more…]