*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes
It feels as though there is so much to write about at this moment in time: the blooming almond trees, the 75° weather, winter/spring cooking, and our new farm babies. We got news yesterday that our neighbors at Pasture 42 welcomed a beautiful little girl into the world. Delphine Louise joins Arlo Alois Muller (4 months) and Teodoro Rodriguez Ochoa (3 months) in the one and under crowd here in Guinda, CA. Since our newest little farm boys have not gotten an official Beet welcome, here they are with their ringleader, Rowan. We are elated to introduce them to you.
These beautiful babes are not the only thing growing around here. Our farm kitchen (shown below), which will be host to farm dinners, classes, value added products, events and many other uses is nearing completion. The paint is on the walls, the stoves have arrived and the landscaping is underway. The building of this new addition to the farm has taken just under two years, and the planning goes back even further than that. Needless to say, we are all chomping at the bit to get in there and cook! We hope that this new space can be a gathering place for our community, both local and extended (including you!) It also represents the farm’s desire to grow not just in acres of vegetables and babies (although those are good too), but also in new and exciting directions. In uncertain economic and meteorological times, our strength is in our diversity of activities and talents. For Amon and me, this building is a dream come true! We hope to see you at a tour, dinner, or if you happen to be passing through, do stop by and say hello. We can’t wait to show you around!
–Amon and Jenna Muller
Full Belly will soon be delivering produce boxes every Friday to a site in the Glenview neighborhood in Oakland (near Lake Merritt). The program is a partnership between Full Belly Farm and Sea Forager, a company that offers fresh, sustainably sourced seafood, so you will be able to sign up for a weekly or biweekly seafood package as well. For information about Sea Forager Seafood, visit www.seaforager.com. The site is listed on our web site (http://fullbellyfarm.com/join-our-csa/neighborhood-delivery-sites/east-bay-csa-sign-up/) as a potential new site to gauge the interest first. If you are interested in joining, please fill out the on-line application form and we will contact you when we have a start date.
All of you, plus your families and friends are invited (and urged!) to come to the farm at least once this year. This year we will have three Open Farm Days: Sunday March 22nd, Saturday June 13th, and of course, the Hoes Down on October 3rd. As those days get closer, we will post details on our web site and in this newsletter.
On June 13th we are also offering a special dinner after the tour for anyone who wants to stay longer. The dinner is part of our monthly Farm Dinner series (http://fullbellyfarm.com/events/full-belly-kitchen/) featuring sumptuous dishes made from farm products. This year our June dinner will be a little less formal than those in other months and it is open to a few more people. The cost is $50 per person. Reservations and payment in advance are required for any of the dinners and they fill up quickly. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a dinner spot.
South Bay CSA Members
The Full Belly Winter Market stand at Flea St Café, Menlo Park is moving to the Chocolate Garage (Gilman St, Palo Alto) starting Jan. 10, 2015.
CSA boxes will be available for pick up at BOTH sites. Pick up hours are:
Flea St Café – 10am to 1pm on Saturdays
Chocolate Garage – 9am to 1pm on Saturdays with Market hours 9am to Noon
Davis CSA Members
There are TWO new pick up sites in Davis starting January 2015.
East 8th Street, Davis – 3 to 7pm on Wednesdays
Mace Ranch, Davis – 1 to 7pm on Saturdays
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.
Oranges – $7.50 for 5 pound bag -OR- $15 for 10 pound bag
Sun Dried Peaches – $5/1/2 pound bag.
Almonds – $12/1 pound bag
Walnuts – $10/1 pound bag.
Almond Butter – Creamy or Crunchy – $14/1 pound jar.
Iraqi Durum Wheat Flour – $3/1.5 pounds.
Iraqi Durum Wheat Berries – $3/2 pounds.
Safflower Oil – 500 or 250mL bottles – $15/ 500mL -or- $10/ 250mL.
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.
For those interested in our certified organically raised lamb we have a limited amount available for delivery to a CSA site near you. Sorry no home deliveries. Our lambs are all born and raised here at the farm and are fed 100% on pasture, organic vegetables and hay. The lambs are harvested at Superior Farms in Dixon, CA. (Please note this is not a CCOF certified facility and the finished product is not CCOF certified.) They are sold by the half lamb (20 lbs) for $185, or whole lamb (40 lbs) for $350. (Sorry, temporarily sold out. Please contact us if you want to be put on the waiting list.)
We also have soup chickens for sale. These are 2-year old egg-laying birds frozen and packed with heads and feet, that are great for making broth, soup or stew. The cost is $11, delivered frozen to select CSA sites. Sorry no home deliveries. Please contact Becky – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you are interested.
There are few seasons on the farm that we meet with such jittery anticipation as lambing season. For the next few weeks there will be a flurry of “getting ready” tasks as we approach the February date when the first lambs are born. Fences must be set up for the hugely pregnant moms, greenhouses constructed for housing the tiny new lambs and their mothers, supplies purchased for any lambing emergencies. There are 85 ewes this year that will be giving birth in a one month time period to over 120 babies which can get really chaotic if you are not prepared! We have been raising this many sheep and lambs for over 20 years but still feel taken by surprise each year as they begin.
One of the hardest things is “psyching” ourselves up for the sleepless nights ahead. Despite the fact that 90% of the lambs will be born without any fanfare there are potential issues that can arise and we must be there any time, day or night, to help out. We do lamb checks every two to three hours during the night and as frequently throughout the day. Rainy nights and the full moon will definitely bring on a barrage of lambs – a well documented fact known by shepherds throughout the ages – so we have extra recruits on those nights. [Read more…]
Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, is offering a one-day event in which Alan Savory and Nicolette Hahn-Niman will share their message of hope for the environment. Savory and Hahn-Niman will speak about how cattle grazing plays a key role in revitalizing the world’s damaged grasslands. There is a charge for the event: students are $35; general admission is $75 and VIP is $130. Tickets and additional information are available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1117550
Full Belly Break
I have family in Japan, living in Chiba City, about 45 minutes from Tokyo (using the efficient trains). During the Full Belly break, my husband and I had the wonderful experience of spending 2-weeks traveling with family, visiting Kyoto on the main island, and also several places on the smaller islands of Naoshima, Shikoku and Kyushu.
When we travel, we like to try new foods and avoid “westernized” restaurants. In Japan, this can result in experiencing startlingly new and foreign textures and flavors. Slimy, crunchy and chewy textures abound. Meals are usually presented as lots of small plates, rather than one main dish with sides. It was not at all uncommon to have a meal presented to our group at an Inn, or at a home we were visiting, for us to have no idea what some of the dishes were. Perhaps some form of soy? Or fish? Or maybe egg? [Read more…]
Happy New Year to all of our Full Belly Farm CSA members. We are happy to be back in action and ready to deliver your delicious boxes for 2015!
Here are a few notes from the field, observed over our break.
At this time of year we usually have young plants growing in our greenhouses, prepared for transplanting to the field at a stage in their lives when they are less vulnerable to weed and weather pressures than if we grow them in the field from seed. This year, we have probably the largest set of transplants in the greenhouse (lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, greens etc) that we’ve ever had before. But December presented a challenging greenhouse window. Our climate is usually sunny even when it rains, but this year there were more than two weeks of very cloudy, cool, humid weather in December. This created the perfect conditions for rot and mildew diseases in the greenhouse that we have not typically had to deal with. With additional ventilation and care in watering, we were able to pull through and will be transplanting into the field in the next week or two. [Read more…]
Full Belly Farm has been awarded the 2014 California Leopold Conservation Award. We hope to use this opportunity as a way to deepen the conversation about land stewardship and conservation in agriculture.
Happy Holidays to all of our members. Thank you for your support in 2014. After our break, we will be delivering boxes again starting the week of January 6th. Here are photos of some of the delicious Thanksgiving dishes that we shared here at the farm. We hope the photos will help to inspire your holiday cooking!
Hard to choose from so many delights! About 50 people joined us for dinner. [Read more…]
Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is a wonderful film, and an artistic exploration of soil. Filmed on four continents, it examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Farmers (including Full Belly farmers) and ranchers are included in the film. Organic farms like Full Belly place a lot of emphasis on caring for their soil as a path to healthier food. We were very impressed with the film and can recommend it to our members.
Friday, December 5th, is World Soil Day, starting the United Nations International Year of the Soils. Our friends at Lily Films, producers of Symphony of the Soil, will be presenting the film at the U.N. in New York, and streaming the film free from their web site at: http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com
Often people give a gasp when they inquire about the number of guests who will be at our farm home for Thanksgiving dinner and we reply casually: somewhere between fifty and sixty. The numbers have grown slowly over the years because our family, friends and farm have too and this year will be no exception. Fifty eight confirmed guests and then some more that we have surely not counted! The dinner is exemplary of everything that makes up the best parts of this little farm here in the Capay Valley: community, camaraderie and of course the blessings of the incredible food. Our community includes members of the immediate farm family — Andrew and Anna and their two towering teenage sons who could most likely eat an entire turkey themselves! Judith’s family always graces the dinner with her beautiful mother, Noné Redmond, one of the our farm’s longest and sweetest supporters and Judith’s siblings, nieces and nephews who live nearby. Our apprentices who hail from New York, Japan and parts of California will be here with a few sisters flying in to see where their big sister works on a crazy organic farm. Some of the farm crew will be with us including Inigo, the resident carpenter, Jan, our relentless and passionate farm manager and her partner Jordan. Our own family, which is now twelve including the two newest members who will be making their first appearances and may not eat much except from their loving moms.
And the community circle grows wider still to our neighboring farms. Friends from Riverdog Farm who we have worked so closely with all summer will be at the table, and Spreadwing Farm family and interns will be here as well. Fran, the chief organic buyer from the wholesaler Nor-Cal produce, who was married here this fall and has become our fast friend will come for the first time, along with childhood schoolmates and nieces and nephews who now live in the valley with their children. The list goes on and becomes an amazing amalgamation of all of the best we could ever hope for to join us in this special day of giving thanks. [Read more…]
Good Food Community Fund
With the help of our members, our CSA program has been donating CSA boxes to two wonderful organizations, the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic and Montalvin Manor Elementary School for many years. The way it works is that you can include a box donation when you pay for your boxes, or you can donate your boxes when you go out of town (with 5 days notice). You can also designate funds to go directly to the Good Food Community Fund if you wish. For the first time in many years, our fund is significantly in arrears, so we hope that some of you might consider contributing.
The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic in Oakland is a licensed primary care facility that serves low-income women with cancer. The Clinic provides free therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, massage and Chinese and western herbs. An in-home comfort care program is available for clients with end-stage cancer who are too weak to come to the Clinic. The post-treatment program treats and supports women who have completed their allopathic treatments. For more information about the Clinic, visit their web site at www.charlottemaxwell.org. [Read more…]
As we described in our Beet last week (11/3) we are in the midst of a major overhaul of the database that we use to manage our member accounts. If all goes well, it will take us until about mid-November to complete. As we said, please let us know if you notice anything that is incorrect in the records that you see when you pick up your box. One of the byproducts of the move from our old system to the new one is that we may email you your renewal notice twice – our apologies if you do!
Fall. Finally, the farm’s heartbeat has begun its descent back to a resting rate. For the past seven months, the heart of the organism known as Full Belly has been pulsing with growth and energy. Millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables have made their way into thousands of lives, fueling hearts and nourishing bodies. Hopefully some of that food found its way into your mouth this year. Whether it was a sun-kissed peach, a vine-ripened tomato, or a heavenly muskmelon, it is our passion to bring you the beat of the farm with this delicious produce.
I believe that Mother Nature doesn’t get enough credit for the product of her toil. I know that each tree this year pushed its roots further and deeper then they have in a long time. Stretched thin in a time of drought when water was so scarce, our trees found a way to keep their fruit all the way until it was harvested. The oak trees around the farm still managed to produce so many acorns making sure that all the creatures of the valley are well stocked and fattened for the winter. Our plants grew and fruited despite the myriad of challenges pitted against them. This resilience and perseverance of nature is truly inspiring. [Read more…]
For some time, Full Belly has wanted to develop a system for our CSA members that will allow all of you to place your orders and renew your boxes on-line, without the added step of emailing or calling the farm. This is not because we are moving away from our commitment to building relationships with all of you, but more because it is a necessary convenience demanded by the current marketplace.
There are several ‘off-the-shelf’ programs that we could have chosen, but because we want to maintain the flexibility that we currently offer, we decided to build our own program, and the first phase of that effort has been completed. During the next month, we will be electronically moving all of the data from our old system to our new system. This includes many important details and is a little bit complicated. [Read more…]
I had the honor this week to serve on a University of California Cooperative Extension hiring committee. Cooperative Extension plays an important role in fostering the university’s applied research for the direct benefit of agriculture. Cooperative Extension dates back 100 years as a federally mandated agricultural extension service administered through individual state land grant colleges and universities. Coop Extension, in one capacity or another serves every county and every state in the country. With a mandate to address the practical needs of agriculture, extension agents or advisors are essentially university field agents providing scientific information for the needs of agriculture. Small farmers in our area, with our distinct issues have been under-recognized and underserved.
I am thrilled to report that for the first time ever, a Small Farms Advisor will serve Yolo, Solano and Sacramento Counties. Forty-seven candidates from more than 4 countries, 10 states and territories and numerous parts of California applied for this position. We interviewed 6 highly qualified individuals with advanced academic backgrounds, extensive small farming experience, and proficient outreach skills, intent on finding someone to fit a very broad and demanding list of qualifications. As is much the case in farming, this person must be a “Jack/Jane of all trades”, fielding a wide spectrum of small farming issues: agronomic, horticultural, entomological, business, marketing, etc. Unlike most extension posts, which are specialist positions, the small farm advisor wears more of an umbrella than a hat. [Read more…]
Hannah Muller created this float called “The Future of Agriculture” for the Esparto High School Homecoming Parade. (There were other little kids for most of the parade – but they had escaped when this photo was taken.)
Every year Full Belly offers a class to our members so that all of you have the opportunity to learn how to make a beautiful dried flower wreath right here at the farm where the flowers were grown and dried. The wreaths make perfect holiday gifts, and they last for years. The class will take place on Veteran’s Day, Tuesday November 11th, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We will serve you a delicious organic lunch and provide all of the supplies that you need. The cost is $45 for adults and $25 for children (we don’t provide child care). Class size is limited, so please call or email to reserve a spot: 530-796-2214, or email@example.com.
With 80 or more people working at Full Belly it is sometimes daunting to get to know everyone. There are field crews, a packing-shed crew, CSA customer-support staff, irrigation crews, an animal-care crew and a marketing team, just to mention a few. Occasionally, we take space in the Beet to feature one of our staff, thinking that our members may also like to get to know the people that pick their vegetables. Previously, we have always interviewed someone who has worked at the farm for many years, usually year-round. This week, in contrast, we talked with Angel Martinez who has only worked at the farm for a short while.
Angel started working at Full Belly a few months ago, at the height of the summer busyness, and in that short time he has been assigned quite a variety of tasks – “a little bit of everything” as he put it: packing peaches; planting strawberries, onions, broccoli and cabbage; sorting nuts; working on the almond-sheller; pulling stakes out of the ground in old tomato fields; pulling up plastic row cover and drip lines from finished fields; and of course, picking vegetables like eggplants and chilies. [Read more…]
As I look back on my first two weeks as an intern at Full Belly Farm, I find it hard to believe that I have only been here for that long. I have already had the amazing opportunity to learn, experience and do so much that it feels like I have been here for much longer.
I applied to be an intern because I wanted to learn about all aspects of organic farming and from day one here, I have been able to jump from project to project to see how many different parts come together to make Full Belly Farm.
I worked in the packing shed with Joaquina, the shop manager, where I helped pack and put together CSA boxes and orders for stores. I learned how to correctly wash and bunch greens and root vegetables like rainbow chard, dino kale, Tokyo turnips and watermelon daikon, and I sorted through giant bins of harvested garlic and onions to find the best looking ones to be sold. [Read more…]
The Full Belly web site has a recipe page with an index that contains many recipes from past years. When you get your box, if you aren’t sure how you are going to use one of the vegetables, the wealth of recipes that we have collected is worth a quick visit. The best way to use our index is to look at the list on the right hand side of the screen and click on the vegetable you have in mind or click the link in the electronic newsletter.
There are definitely vegetables that you will get in your CSA box that will stump you temporarily, but over time, once you experiment with them, you may end up developing a favorite way to use them.
Because the pace of our activities keeps all of us so busy, and because so many of us go out to eat a lot, getting people to eat their fruits and veggies from a CSA box can be a hard sell. It involves preparing and cooking your meals at home, which takes time. But there are lots of reasons why the effort is worth the trouble, not the least of which is that the increased consumption of locally grown organic fruits and vegetables will pay off in improved health. Besides, once you get into the habit, it really doesn’t take all that much time! Home cooked food really is healthier, tastier, educational for the kids, and less expensive. [Read more…]
We don’t have photos of this year’s Hoes Down ready yet, but the weekend went really well. If you have a favorite photo we invite you to send it to us and we will share it with other CSA members.
It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking to open up our farm to so many people. It is a huge benefit to us that so many of our CSA members are part of the Hoes Down. We know that our CSA members will help us to keep the farm safe.
Our volunteers were particularly inspiring this year. We have many that come back year after year and know their jobs well. The experienced volunteers teach the new volunteers what to do, and with 400 volunteers all working together, this kind of help is priceless.
It takes us a while to get all of our figures in place, but every year so far, the Hoes Down has been able to make generous donations back to the community. Thank you all so much for being a part of this wonderful Harvest celebration!
We are Tidy!!
We are tidying this week in preparation for our big day here on the farm. Yesterday we had a crew of 40 volunteers cleaning up, stuffing scarecrows with new wheat straw, designing and building a 500-bale straw fort, erecting the tipi, painting signs, making tamales, and spreading 25 tons of mulch to settle dust and make the farmyard neat and beautiful. This week, along with our regular pick, pack, weeding and planting schedule – we are ready-ing and steady-ing for Hoes Down.
After a long and dry summer, where days were pretty intense and a layer of dust had settled over and in about everything, a half inch of rain this past week washed and polished what was looking pretty drab. One can just see the trees and grass exhale a collective sigh of relief as the cleansing moisture wiped our world clean. It was a baptism, a purification and a regeneration. We welcomed and celebrated the transition as one of the marks of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. [Read more…]
Faces from the Fields
Maria Machado has worked at Full Belly Farm for five years, sometimes packing tomatoes and at other times picking fruits and vegetables. Her husband Sergio works at the farm as well, on the irrigation crew. Last June, Maria was put in charge of her own picking crew. We wanted to tell a little bit of her story to our CSA members since Maria is an important part of the chain of many hands and many people’s dedicated efforts, that result in the CSA boxes that you enjoy every week.
On a recent afternoon when Maria’s crew was picking padron peppers we sat and talked for a few minutes. The weather was a bit cooler and more comfortable than it has been in weeks past. From where we sat, when I reminded Maria that most of the people getting CSA boxes live in the city, and may never have worked on a farm, we couldn’t help looking around and feeling happy to see the hills on either side of us, the trees providing shade to sit under, and the sounds of the wind moving across the field. [Read more…]
The farm is shifting and easing into the start of a fall season. As days shorten, so do our work hours – now starting at 7 am and finishing by 5. The crops that we cultivate and seeds planted reflect the fall and winter approach. Andrew and Jan are planting fall greens, carrots, beets and broccoli. Potatoes are emerging and we hurry them along to size up and set tubers before any frost determines their lifespan. Gone for 2014 are melons and stone fruits. Tomatoes are beginning to show their decline as they head toward the end of a long and fruitful season.
Thoreau wrote “Love each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.” Indeed, the conversation about seasonality is a deep and significant historical awareness that we may be remembering, in turn enriching and connecting all of us to the ‘food shed’ that supplies our communities. We may be moving to the shared responsibility that is central to a vibrant and healthy food system – where those who eat are responsible for those who produce, and those who produce know their farm patrons, acting as stewards of the resources that support those patrons. [Read more…]
Hoes Down Harvest Festival!
Another summer has come and gone. Baby goats were born, tomatoes were packed and pages on the calendars turned. The farmers on Full Belly Farm generally do not count time day to day. Instead, we see the changing seasons by the events that have become the constant reminder that another year has passed. The fall is a time when the Full Belly farmers celebrate the beautiful harvest of another year. 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 as we plan for the celebration that reminds us all to share the beauty of rural life, and lets us share our farm with others. This year marks the 27th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival – we hope you will join us. In case you need 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 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…]