News From the Farm | October 14, 2019

Olive harvest has begin  — 

The Full Belly Harvest Festival took place last week long before the big Fall harvests were done.  The only Fall harvest we had completed was our almonds, and that was achieved by farm owner Paul Muller and several assistants working long dusty days while missing some of the staff that had helped in years past and have now moved on to other jobs.  

Observant Harvest Festival campers enjoying the peace of our walnut orchard might have noticed that while there were many walnuts on the ground, most of them were still on the trees.  I think this is the first Hoes Down that has seen campers in the walnut orchard before the harvest has even started.

Our employees probably find it amusing that we profess to our guests that the Harvest Festival is a time to put your Hoes Down — the crew barely took a breath away from harvesting Winter Squash, again something that some of last weekend’s guests might have noticed lying in many of our fields as the vines die around the fruit, exposing it for our crews that walk through picking it up one-by one and placing it into big bins that will be stored over the winter. The photo is Bonifacio’s estimate of how many boxes we need to sell!

It is a time to celebrate though, an inflection point as we turn the page on summer tomatoes and say goodbye to another season of melons and peaches.  Andrew spent several days last week planting garlic and the crew has been weeding the carrots. We are starting our olive harvest this week. Soon all of the tomatoes will be untied from their trellises and all of the trellising stakes will be taken out of the ground.  

Our loyal and much appreciated CSA members have all noticed the abrupt appearance of greens and turnips in the CSA boxes — Mother Nature’s way of saying that the long days of summer have turned over to the cooler nights of Fall.  Thank you all for seeing us through another Summer.  Blessings on your Fall meals.

 

—Judith Redmond

News From the Farm | October 7, 2019

A small sampling of the diverse pumpkin carvings at the Hoes Down.  — 

The Hoes Down Harvest Festival came (10/5) and went leaving many happy memories.  It was a tremendously successful, smooth day thanks to the help of hundreds of wonderful volunteers.  Thank you to all of our CSA members and other friends who came out to enjoy the farm in this perfect weather.   We are so thankful and appreciative of you all! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 30, 2019

Howdy y’all! Full Belly Farm’s Education team – Sierra & Haley here!  We’re back to teach you the ABC’s of the Hoes Down Harvest Festival! If you like these, you’ll LOVE what we’ve got cooking for you, coming up on October 5th.  

OOnly a few days until the Hoes Down! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 23, 2019

For the past thirty-one years, there is one particular autumnal day where Full Belly Farm is magically transformed into a bustling festival.  That festival is what we lovingly call, The Hoes Down Harvest Festival. It is a time to throw down our hoes from our hard summer of work, and kick our heels up in celebration! 

If you’re reading this, chances are that you already know about Hoes Down.  You’ve tasted the heirlooms, visited the marketplace, sat-in on workshops, and camped beneath the trees in the walnut orchard.  But do you know how it all comes together? [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 16, 2019

Stilt Walking at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival  —  

Howdy y’all! Full Belly Farm’s Education team – Sierra & Haley here! It’s been a couple of years since our last Hoes Down Harvest Festival, so we thought we’d give you a quick reminder of all the fun to be had, coming up on October 5th! Lo and behold, here’s the first installation of the ABC’s of the Hoes Down Harvest Festival:    

A – Agricultural Workshops 

Interested in how to raise chickens, discover native plants, or learn the fundamentals of natural building? Well the Hoes Down is the place to do all that and more.  There are over 25 workshops available with the price of admission.  

B – Barnyard Animals

Visit all of your favorite Full Belly Farm regulars that help make this farm run.  Stop by and learn how Eclair gets milked, what our lucky pigs get to eat, how our chickens move around the farm in their mobile homes and how our sheep get shorn.  Don’t forget to visit the FFA’s petting zoo too! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 9, 2019

Produce cornucopia at Day in the Country  —  

Full Belly has been pretty busy lately.  First of all, we hope to put our best foot forward for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival on October 5th and with the summer focus on harvest and crop production, many corners of the farm have been overlooked and now need to be tidied up.  We hope that our CSA members are able to visit the farm for the Hoes Down since it is one of our favorite days of the year.  Note that your tickets have to be bought on-line in advance this year.  There will not be ticket sales at the gate. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 2, 2019

Seems like we may have a great crop of pomegranates, come October and November.

We recently wrote a letter to Governor Newson’s office about two climate change bills introduced into the legislature that have very little funding for agriculture. The bills would enact a bond act in 2020 that the Governor’s office is developing.  Here are excerpts from our letter:

I am thankful that increased attention is being given to prevention of and restoration after drought, wildfires and floods. I am a farm owner in Yolo County California, farming along Cache Creek in the Capay Valley.  My farm and home have been directly impacted in the last decade by significant wildfires (County Fire, 2018 and Sand Fire, 2019), frightening flooding of Cache Creek, and the impacts of the most recent California drought.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 26, 2019

Alex and Frederick raking the almonds into a central line, ready for the sweeper (shown below) to pick them up.

 

 An Ode to Thank the Capay Valley Farm Shop for the Use of Their Awesome Forklift

It was late on a summer’s night

Many hands had not been on deck 

Projects were piling up

bellies were growling

Worry wrinkles were deepening [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 19, 2019

Here are a few photos snapped on a Saturday at Full Belly:

Leo bringing in the Jimmy Nardello peppers coming out of the field by the bin.

Rye sorting Red Lasota potatoes. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 12, 2019

Our wonderful intern crew transplanting broccoli  —

This column, News From the Farm, is a chronicle in the life of the Full Belly Farm organism, through the eyes of various writers who are ridiculously immersed in every aspect of farming and thus want to reflect upon the hidden underbellies, layers and intricacies that are part of the life of a farm.  I want to state at the start that I understand that not everyone finds farming quite so fascinating, and only mention this because I have a fear that such might be the case with this week’s topic which touches upon farm liability insurance and the reasons why the Full Belly policy was abruptly cancelled.  The reader has now been warned and may move on to other more scintillating topics, as he or she might wish. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 5, 2019

Our onion harvest is quite picturesque at this stage, with burlap bags full of onions lined up along the beds.  First we undercut the onions with a tractor blade, then we pick them up off the beds and fill up the bags.  We have about an acre of onions ready to be harvested, the question is, how to fit the onion harvest in between giving our attention to all of the more perishable crops that need our constant daily vigilance? [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 29, 2019

We have benefitted tremendously from our Full Belly internship program which brings energetic, positive and inquisitive young people from all over the world to the farm to learn about sustainable agriculture. The benefits go beyond a great work team and into the realm of life-long friendships. Yuma moved on from the farm last week. He hails from Japan and is going to be at UC Davis for a couple of months — but that feels like a long way away after 15 months of working and living together.  

Deeper Significance in the CSA Boxes

We are writing to introduce you to Mary Cherry, who is helping to start Family Harvest Farm, a 3.5 acre urban farm that will be located in Pittsburg, California.  The farm will employ transition age foster youth and teach them to grow organic produce, along with other skills.  Family Harvest Farm is still getting off the ground, and in the meantime Mary has been busy organizing cooking classes for youth using facilities available through the Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP). [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 22, 2019

Alfredo’s crew picking tomatoes  —  

I want to comment on an Opinion that appeared on July 16 in the New York Times, “The Sad Lesson From California.” The article laments the lack of union representation for farm labor in California despite statute that allows union organizers on farms.  The author states that despite the right to collective bargaining, farm worker “wages and conditions are for the most part arguably no better than decades ago.”  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 15, 2019

Barely any cucumbers make it home because they are so delicious!
(Thank you to CSA member Hallie Chertok for the photo!)  ––  

The story was told a hundred times and always began like this: “It was early July, the beginning of the hot summer, and Mama had fallen in love with a handsome young farmer who lived close by to Grandma and Grandpa. So Mama went out near her home and picked two big beautiful buckets of ripe, juicy blackberries that she found along the river edge. She took those blackberries home and baked them into a golden-crusted pie with the blackberries tucked inside. Later that day she drove out to where she thought that farmer lived and found his house along a long country road. She left that pie on his doorstep with a simple note that said, PLEASE ENJOY THIS PIE MADE WITH LOVE and in small letters at the bottom she wrote her name. Well, pretty soon that young man came home and ate up that pie and pretty soon after that they were married and pretty soon after that they moved to this house where you were born and where we all live now. Now Go to Sleep, Goodnight” [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 8, 2019

Each season’s weather passes forward its imprint on the following season’s crops. Late spring rains are remembered when there are diseases in the peaches during the summer.  A spike of heat in early June can interrupt the pollination in ears of corn resulting in kernel blanks when the corn is harvested.   

Sometimes those predictions come true, but not always.  Our stone fruit trees are looking great, contrary to the worries during all the rain we enjoyed last spring.  On the other hand some of our corn does have blanks in the ears, each missing kernel representing one silk strand that wasn’t successfully pollinated.  High heat is a common explanation for blanking in corn. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 1, 2019

July already. The crew just brought in four bins of orchid watermelons hopeful that they would all sell well before the July 4th holiday.  This is the first big watermelon harvest of the season — each summer brings it’s string of ‘firsts’ as we look forward to each crop. 

Walking across farm fields, down furrows and over graveled roads I know that crew members have also walked these furrows over and over, year in and year out. Every square foot of ground has been travelled by many other eyes and grown uncounted seasons of crops. Walking down a field of freshly prepared, unplanted beds I came across a pile of feathers, all that remained of a bird — Probably this was the scene of a fierce struggle the previous night. It was fresh and I think that I was the first to stumble upon it.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 24, 2019

First sip of milk! This calf, named Twinkie was born on June 19th — 

For many years, we have been fortunate to be part of an inquisitive, forward thinking, creative and passionate community of food entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. Our relationships with our customers have enriched our thinking and have been part of our farm’s evolution. We have many examples of crops that we started growing as the result of  a customer or chef’s suggestion. We have been swept up in the enthusiasm of food pioneers who happened to be our customers.  Alice Waters and her staff at Chez Panisse were early farm supporters. Walter Robb, Mark Squire and Bill Fujimoto are examples of passionate shop keepers who have supported us, and every week, for the past 35 years, farmers market and CSA customers have whispered likes and dislikes into our ears feeding us new ideas about what to grow. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 17, 2019

The Full Belly Irrigation crew in the potato field: Jose, Conrado, Manuel and Arturo  — 

This is the thirsty time of year when pumps are running and water is flowing 24/7 all over the farm.  There are more than 300 acres of fruits, flowers and and vegetables that have to be taken care of and at Full Belly, the fields don’t come in easy 50-acre contiguous blocks.  Three acres here and four acres there, all managed differently.  In the late spring, when fields are turning over from winter to summer, pumps have to be put into position, drip tape has to be set up, and systems have to be in tip top order.  You see pipe trailers being pulled all around the farm, and Arturo — the irrigation crew leader — driving around everywhere in his red truck.  When Arturo talks on the radio he sounds as if is running in hyperdrive. [Read more…]

News From the Farm

Just as many of us were about to go into weekend mode, on Saturday afternoon, the Sand Fire sent the northern Capay Valley into a controlled panic. The fire started in the hills just behind Rumsey, off of a road that had been washed out and was inaccessible to fire equipment.  The high winds and hot weather threatened to push the fire down the valley towards Guinda.  It loomed above farms and ranches, where people, houses, animals and crops were in harms way.  Around here, the evacuations include animals, so horses, goats, cats and dogs were moved in a very short time, with all the decisions and coordination that entails taking place in short order. [Read more…]

News From the Farm

Pancho spreading compost, with hills and clouds in the background –

There’s a Farmer in Everyone –

Five days of every Full Belly work week, a group of lucky Full Belly farmers – mostly the interns, the owners and the families of owners – all get to sit down for a quick midday meal that is prepared in advance by one of the interns.  For these lunches, there can be 14 people plus kids, and even a few unplanned guests, that pour through the kitchen door at noon, looking for something to eat.  Cooking for that many people can be intimidating no matter what, but when you only have a few hours to get everything ready and your cooking experience is limited, it can be a tall order. [Read more…]