Today’s CSA Box – Week of July 27, 2015

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

News From the Farm | July 27, 2015

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.

But then, in our lifetime, relatively quickly, starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, heirloom tomatoes moved from backyards, and garden sheds to farmers markets, commercial nurseries, school gardens, urban farms, and upscale restaurants. Full Belly’s early CSA and farmers market customers were a big part of this change.

The plant breeders and scientists that had developed the round, shiny regular-looking tomatoes didn’t welcome the cocky heirloom intruder, as illustrated in a Scientific American article of March, 2009, titled How to Grow a Better Tomato – The Case Against Heirloom Tomatoes: “No matter how you slice it, their seeming diversity is only skin-deep: heirlooms are actually feeble and inbred – the defective product of breeding experiments that began during the Enlightenment and exploded thanks to enthusiastic backyard gardeners from Victorian England to Depression-era West Virginia. Heirlooms are the tomato equivalent of the pug – that ‘purebred’ dog with the convoluted nose that snorts and hacks when it tries to catch a breath.”

At Full Belly Farm, owner Andrew Brait has spearheaded the tomato operation from the start, and his recollection of the growth of our heirloom market is that it came a little bit out of left field.  He says, “People wanted to have a closer relationship to their food source and they knew that all these varieties had been grown for generations, but were disappearing. Many people have a memory of the perfect tomato – maybe they picked it in their grandma’s backyard – and they wish that tomatoes always tasted like that.”

The first generation of Full Belly heirloom tomatoes was pretty rough looking. The scientists were partly right – their skins were fragile, they were prone to splitting, the yields weren’t high (at first), and they didn’t transport well in refrigerated trucks.  All of those obstacles had to be addressed with experimentation and invention.  But as we learned more about the plants, we grew more each year, with 25% growth in acreage for several years in a row.  Now we’ve capped at about 25 acres, and we feel like that’s the right amount for our mix of summer crops.

Andrew got a lot of the seeds for his early heirloom tomato experiments through Seed Savers Exchange – a small, grassroots organization of people who exchange seeds with each other. The cherished varieties that these seed savers kept alive had never been commercial varieties.  Andrew calls Seed Savers Exchange “a grassroots plant variety rescue and seed bank.” 

When Andrew started farming in New England, he realized that many of the crop varieties that had been lost were well suited to New England, in contrast to many of the varieties offered by seed companies, which were appropriate anywhere – thus catering to a larger market. Flavor was easily lost along with the old varieties.

Andrew remembers that there were challenges to overcome in learning how to grow heirlooms at Full Belly. He says, “The majority of the fruit we harvested at first didn’t look remotely like the tomato that we were trying to grow. The shape was too funky, the flesh and skin was too soft, the cracking was excessive, and the fruit was intolerant of too much sun.  They were very different to grow than the hybrid tomatoes that have been bred for uniformity.  The heirlooms had a lot more individual expression.  We had a steep learning curve, figuring out what was sellable and what wasn’t.”  It wasn’t just that we had to learn how to grow them.  The standard pack for hybrid tomatoes was a 20-pound, 2-layer box.  Heirlooms couldn’t be packed that way.  

But over a decade of working with the plants, our quality improved. The next step, after we had a little more experience, was to start saving our own seed. Again, Andrew remembers: “In 1995, we did a big trial of 20 varieties, after getting 25 seeds each from Seed Savers.  We barely looked at them all summer.  One day in the early fall, Dru and I went out and couldn’t believe how beautiful some of the tomatoes were.  I remember one of them that really impressed me was the Persimmon. The seed saving process is amazing – saving the seed, growing it out, saving it again, and in that process we were selecting for varieties that we liked.  Now we have some varieties that we have been selecting for 15 years.”

“For example, we have a couple of sport varieties – off-types – that I found in the field. I would find one plant in a row of 500 that had produced an off-type that was gorgeous.  So we collected the tomatoes from that plant and saved the seed and grew them out and have been doing it ever since.  Our Marvel Wow came from the Marvel Stripe, and our beautiful yellow Zapotec came from the red Zapotec.” 

If Full Belly hadn’t had our CSA and farmers market customers, and a lot of adventurous chefs to sell to in the first years when we started growing heirloom tomatoes, it would have been much more difficult for us.  A lot of growers didn’t have that opportunity, because they felt that the heirlooms were so far out of the box that their customers wouldn’t know where to start with them.  Full Belly’s customers were as much a part of the success of the heirloom movement as were the farmers.   Thank you to our early CSA members for tolerating our experiments – if you hadn’t, the heirloom tomato would never have become the important part of our summer crop rotation that it is now.

— Judith Redmond and Andrew Brait

California State Fair

This display was at the California State Fair, which ended its 17-day run last Sunday. Full Belly produce was beautifully displayed with California Grown Flowers inside one of the exhibit halls.

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Camp Full Belly Farm presents… Family Farm Camp!

Join us for our inaugural summer of family camp Aug. 12th to 15th – with hands on farming activities for the whole family! From harvesting and cheese making to stargazing and creek splashing, this is sure to be a wonderful experience for everyone. For more information, please email education@fullbellyfarm.com.  Space is limited to 10 families, so sign up soon! 

Special Order Add-ons to Your Box

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 csa@fullbellyfarm.com.

Heirloom Tomatoes – $30/ 10 pound box.

New Girl Tomatoes – $30/ 20 pound box.

Roma Tomatoes – $35/ 22 pound box.

San Marzano Roma Tomatoes – $35/ 22 pound box.  

Walnuts (chips & pieces) – $10/ 1 pound bag.

Sun Dried Peaches – $5/ half pound bag.

Sun Dried Apricots – $5/ half pound bag.

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.

Lamb and Chicken Available

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 – becky@fullbellyfarm.com – if you are interested.

Apple Juice & Pomegranate Juice

Our frozen apple juice & pomegranate juice are back.  This juice was pressed from our organic apple & pomegranate crops.  They are not pasteurized.  It will be delivered to your pick-up site frozen. (Sorry, no home deliveries or delivery to the Virginia St, Berkeley site.) 

Apple Juice:  $7 for a half gallon or $4 for a quart

Pomegranate Juice:  $6 per pint or $10 per quart

News From the Farm | July 20, 2015

We put an unusual plant, purslane, in our CSA boxes two weeks ago — well the plant itself isn’t unusual, but it’s not one of those things that find its way to your plate all that often, so it was definitely a culinary challenge!  We aren’t going to put it in again this year I don’t think, but we got so many fun comments as a result, that I decided to share some of them.

Here’s an example: “There was something in our box not this past Wednesday but the one before, that I have no idea what it is, nor how to prepare/cook it! I looked at the website and was still miffed. It looks like a small shrub that was pulled out of the ground dirt and roots and all and if I was to describe it, it looks a bit like something in the cactus family. It is green…” Another member said, “The purslane, for me, was not a winner. I think it was a bit too on the mature side.”  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 13, 2015

We had a farm dinner this past Saturday night, hosted here on the farm. There were 50 or more attendees – a wide-ranging assemblage – customers from farmers markets and CSA, or browsers who came upon the farm seeking closer connection to field and food. It was a wonderful dinner produced from Full Belly Farm products – tomatoes, melons, salami and ground bloody butcher cornmeal for the tortillas. My son Amon and his partner Jenna were the chefs and created a savory dinner and very enjoyable evening.

I was seated with Terril and Eva Ellis, our neighbors and friends who, in their 80’s, have lived next door for many years and have filled their lives with treasures found in a lifetime of imagination and creativity and efforts to deepen the beauty and diversity of their farm. Our conversation was about the lessons learned through experience: things to pay attention to, or best avoided. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 6, 2015

At Full Belly Farm, there can be weeks at a time during the busy season when our entire community of interns, owners, family members, employees, friends, neighbors, camp counselors, campers and visitors find that the heat, the dust, the weeds, and the sheer number of different things clamoring for attention at the farm can become overwhelming. 

We have written in these Beet pages about the Farm’s intentions – we aspire to create a farm that is sustainable, productive and even regenerative – a farm that supports the community around it, not only with nutritious food and nurturing flowers, but with a respectful work environment for employees and a minimum of environmental disruption. In the context of our every day work, those aspirations actually do guide many decisions. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 29, 2015

A Midsummer’s Daydream

Fellow herbivores, omnivores and carnivores, I have a few words and thoughts to share. Take heed as you read this letter, because I mean for this Beet to ignite. A charge in my body pulses through me. No other thoughts invoke such a feeling in me. I cannot help that my hands, my mind, and my soul care so much about food! The pulse I have been charged with I feel I must share. Now more than ever the world must eat organic!  

Growing up on a farm I was thrown into the mud at a pretty young age. Watching my parents work so hard for what they believed in seemed so crazy to me then. However, not getting my parents full attention as a little tyke opened my awareness to the things I could feel around me. Ever since I was a baby, my hands always reached for the dirt.  I fell for it immediately. Most of my childhood pictures would confirm that I even had an appetite for it. Lucky for me the dirt I was holding was healthy, rich and clean.  In just a handful of that sweet soil I wasn’t aware of the trillions of bacteria happily living in it. Nor was I aware that the 100 trillion bacteria in my gut were probably the ones telling me to eat it! I believe that there is an evolutionary romance between our gut bacteria and those in the soil. Pesticides and Antibiotics are like the third wheel on this bacterial honeymoon.  We don’t need them – in fact, they are destroying our guts! Organic soil systems capture more carbon, use water more efficiently in droughts, and produce healthier disease-resistant crops – and all because it is good, organic dirt.  Buying organic is a vote for healthy soils. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 22, 2015

The animal program at Full Belly farm is a way for the interns to experience the responsibilities of caring for a diverse group of animals. As an intern, I have learned how to properly care for laying hens, cows, sheep, goats and pigs as an integrated part of an organic vegetable farm. Antonio Cruz is the shepherd here at the farm, and his wealth of knowledge and experience with farm animals makes every day dynamic and challenging.

Antonio has worked at Full Belly for twelve years, eight of which he has worked full time with the animals. He is from Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero in Mexico, where his three daughters, Almadellia, Esmeralda and Sulmarisandi still live. Besides a few months on a vineyard, he has worked at Full Belly since he came to the US to live with his brother in the Capay Valley. Before coming to the US, Antonio worked on a ranch caring for eighty cows. Every morning at 3am, he and two other men would spend the first four hours of their day milking the eighty cows by hand! As a new milker that finds milking one cow by hand challenging, the thought of milking for four hours straight is very impressive! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 15, 2015

 Farm Day 

It was a small, but happy group of open farm day visitors last Saturday. First we visited some of the Full Belly chickens and talked about pastured animals. The chickens were clustered in the shade under mulberry and quince trees, behaving quite chicken-like, which they might not have had a chance to do if they had been living in battery cages.

Next we got on a trailer and were toured around the easy way, behind a tractor, stopping to discuss any interesting sight that we passed.  We ended up picking apricots and gorging ourselves on the delicious fruit, but not quite spoiling our appetites for picnic lunch.

apricot bliss [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 8, 2015

Farmers markets have been an important part of the Full Belly economic picture since the farm started way back in 1985. As beginning farmers, Dru and I were informed of a market in Palo Alto that was brand new and looking for growers. In those early days we were looking for access to places that might buy some of the organic crops we were producing. 

We had been selling to a local Nugget Market that was bold enough to give our white  Silver Queen corn a try. This was a corn that many of the local farmers were planting on the side of their ‘feed corn’ fields in order to have some good sweet corn for their tables at home.  The flavor of the corn was far better than anything that was on the market, but white corn was not very common. The reception at the Nugget Store was enthusiastic, not only because George the produce manager, was willing to give the corn a try, but also because flavor and freshness assured us access to crowded supermarkets. We were also selling corn to an organic wholesaler in Los Angeles and to a wildly enthusiastic woman from Berkeley named Alice, who would either drive to the farm herself to pick up the corn and tomatoes we were producing, or send someone from her Chez Panisse kitchen to do so.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 1, 2015

Vegetable seasons are sometimes blurry at their beginnings and ends and June is often a month that really makes that point. It can be an awkward month, between spring and summer.  The asparagus is all gone but the melons are a ways off. We call it the ‘June doldrums’ when the farmers market table is piled high with a lot of food staples, and we keep telling the customers how ‘sweet’ the onions are, and how ‘creamy’ the potatoes taste when really all they want to eat are nectarines and tomatoes. 

The calendar says that Summer season begins on the Solstice, June 21st, and until then the heat of the day will drain the tenderness from spring greens like chard and collards. Finally the heat will build up enough, and we will have to abandon the spring crops and make way for the explosion of summer.  At this time of year chefs ask us to add a box of cherry tomatoes to their order, because they know that the cherry tomatoes are around the corner, and they keep hoping that they can scoop all the other chefs by ordering ahead. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 25, 2015

I have always been interested in where my food comes from. As a child I loved going to pumpkin patches and you-pick farms. My siblings and I were always excited to have the chance to walk through a pumpkin patch searching for the perfect and biggest one we could find to bring back home. We would also pick the sweetest berries from the blackberry brambles that grow wild all over Nevada County. As a child I was more concerned with getting the darkest berry and the largest pumpkin. That’s still true today, but there is much more to it now.

We have become detached from knowing where our food comes from. There is an expectation that everything we buy in the store is clean and safe. How can we be sure or know for certain? Knowing more about your food can be your own source of food safety and regulation. As consumers we should be regulating the farming practices we like and don’t like by doing what consumers do best, buying. Instead we allow the government and other agencies to regulate and tell us what is safe.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 18, 2015

To our CSA members and friends,

With a mix of joy and a bit of sadness, I will say my good byes to you all, as I will retire at the end of this month.  I have been your CSA Coordinator for 8 years and have enjoyed many conversations with our members. Thank you for all the joy I have experienced in this position and for the friends I have become acquainted with.

I became a hobby farmer at the age of 48, as my husband retired from his corporate job and we simplified our lives and moved to this valley 12 years ago.  Our home was built in the early 1900’s and moving to this quaint valley took some getting use to. We had a wood burning fireplace and no air conditioning and in this hot area, I wondered if I would survive not having the modern conveniences I was accustomed to. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 11, 2015

Basil

The way some of the crops work on the farm is that once they arrive, you may see them fairly regularly, until all of a sudden you don’t see them again until the following year. That is the case with basil.  Last year, during the 18 weeks of our warm season, from June to October, we put it in your CSA boxes 8 times. In 2013, as is the case this year, the basil started in May and was in the CSA boxes 9 times from May through September.  We mention this, because it helps to provide a perspective on the feast of basil about to arrive: It is transient. If you have time, you can make some pesto and put it in the freezer for winter pasta dishes, as a way to stretch the season. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 4, 2015

Agriculture Climate Benefits Act 

Climate change, and unusual weather may fall with a heavy hand on California agriculture: more frequent and more severe droughts; less water storage in the Sierra snowpack; increased pests and invasive species; heat waves; and reduced chill hours for fruit trees… all of which translate into fewer Full Belly peaches in your boxes? Yes, the peaches may be a problem, but because Full Belly is so diverse, we will try to pick up the slack with more melons and tomatoes.

Setting the Full Belly specifics aside for a moment, people who think a lot about climate change talk about “ADAPTATION” — learning to live with it and reduce our vulnerability – and “MITIGATION” – figuring out how to limit the magnitude and rate of climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. 

In agriculture, we have to do both – and our CSA members can help us.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 27, 2015

Last Thursday I went to a farmers market where there were no cash boxes and no scales.  It was at John Still Elementary School in the Sacramento City Unified School District, one of 42 districts in California participating in a program called California Thursdays.

There were about six other stands featuring locally grown produce, fruit, rice, and even someone making smoothies. At around 8:00am waves of excited kids, arriving one grade at a time, started gathering around, all with their California Thursdays cloth bags ready to be filled. Many of the kids had family members with them and everyone had just been served a California-grown breakfast.

The program was sponsored by the Center for Ecoliteracy, one of several efforts (another notable example is the California Farm to School Network’s Harvest of the Month) bringing fresh and local food to the state’s school kids. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 20, 2015

We have had a number of inquiries about the water situation and it seems time for a Beet article on water and California’s ongoing drought. There have also been questions about whether one can eat almonds without guilt, when many are pointing fingers at new plantings of permanent crops like almonds as a clear example of what seems to be wrong with the investments being made in farming and the water needed to support that farming.

There is little that is easy or clear when it comes to the debate about water in California. The issue is complex, affects all of us and requires that we begin to plan for both times of abundance and cycles of scarcity. Indeed it will be our response to the common issue of scarcity that will require wisdom, restraint and clear thinking as to how the over-promised resource gets divided and allocated among divergent interests. It is not easy to look at water without entering into the complexities of weather patterns, climate changes, year to year fluctuations, indigenous water resources, cropping patterns and historical use. [Read more…]

Keep It Running Smoothly

Our CSA sites need your help to stay tidy. Please help keep these volunteer pick-up locations clean by following a few simple guidelines. 

1. Pick up your box only during the hours listed on our web site and sign-in sheet. These are the hours that the host has set. We do not guarantee the boxes past the designated pick-up times. No credit is issued if you arrive late to claim a box, but find none there.

2. Do not leave a mess! Please stack your empty CSA box as show on the bulletin board.

3. Park in designated parking spots. Do not double park and do not block driveways.

4. Direct your questions to Full Belly, not to the host. Please don’t disturb the host.

5. Please notify us five days in advance if you would like to defer your box.

6. Please check the sign-in sheet for the items we have harvested for you. Please do not take an item that is not listed for your name. Thank You!

News From the Farm | April 13, 2015

We would like to extend a warm welcome to gardening enthusiasts to our unique valley on Mother’s Day Sunday, May 10th for the 8th annual Capay Valley Mother’s Day Garden Tour.  Our valley is home to an amazing array of gardeners and farmers – from a 2 -acre homesteading garden to a 20- acre floral production field, we definitely have something to delight everyone. Nine gardens will be on display sprinkled throughout the valley towns of Esparto, Capay, Brooks, Guinda and Rumsey. Along with the gardens there are other points of interest including the new Seka Hills Olive Mill and wine tasting rooms and the Capay Valley Vineyards tasting room –both of which have special delights for mothers on their special day. Our local restaurant, the Guinda Commons, will be featuring jazz music all day and the Yolo Grange Hall is providing a “local lunch box” for those wanting to purchase a locally sourced meal. The tour is self-guided so that you can take your time and linger at those gardens that really draw you in.  

The gardeners themselves make the day an especially exceptional event. For instance, the owner and head “gardener” at the Capay Oaks garden is a world-renowned landscape architect with projects scattered from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Redding, California! Ron Lutsko designed the famous Sundial Garden in Redding with an emphasis on environmental sustainability including acres of drought tolerant natives. His woodland-oak landscaped garden here in the Capay Valley is a stunning example of this as well and includes hundreds of special species that Ron has collected throughout the state. [Read more…]

CSA Member Kimber Simpkins’ New Book, “Full,” Shares the Healing Magic of Full Belly

“A waft of country air drifted up to me as I pulled apart the cardboard flaps. Carrots, kale, spinach, potatoes, fresh green garlic, oranges, and a little bag of the freshest walnuts imaginable. Before even opening my front door, I unfastened the bag of walnuts and popped a few in my mouth. They tasted like walnut candy: tender, delicately crunchy, and almost sweet. Eating one, I imagined the walnut orchard, its vast, soft green lanes, the huge grafted trees spreading their arms in a wide embrace of the sky.” 

— Excerpt from Full: How I Learned to Satisfy My Insatiable Hunger and Feed My Soul

As a fellow CSA member, you may have had similar experiences when you open up your weekly box and find all the treats inside. The vegetables delivered to us are more than just food for our bellies, but food for the soul.  Take this comment I once saw left on a pick-up site bulletin board: “The asparagus is so good it made me cry.” Aside from how amazingly delicious it is, there’s something profound and healing about knowing where our food comes from, and knowing that the people who grow it care about every single aspect, from the microbes in the soil to the health of those who pick it – and even the effects on the local economy and the world.  In my new book Full, I share my story about how my time at Full Belly helped me heal my difficult relationship with my body and resolve an eating disorder I thought I would never overcome. 

My book on sale now online (my website, http://www.kimberyoga.com links to Indiebound and other online retailers) and bookstores everywhere.  Sign up online for my email newsletter if you’d like to find out more! 

–Kimber Simpkins

News From the Farm | April 6, 2015

April 1st Shenanigans

A few days ago I went to say “hi” to our pigs.  There’s a whole family in the pasture next to my house – Mom, Dad, Grandma and 11 piglets. Someone had turned a sprinkler on to keep the pasture green.  Some of the water was falling on a slope, and the slope was getting muddy as it absorbed the water.  Mama came walking up the slope towards me, perhaps to get a scratch on her snout? No, not a scratch on her snout – instead she lay down in the mud and wallowed around, spreading the mud all over herself. Next she positioned herself just right, across the top of the slope and went slip-sliding down the hill.  This was no accident.  As soon as she could get back on her feet, she walked up the hill and did it again!  After 5 or 6 repeats she was done, and just lay in the mud, enjoying her fun and foolishness on April Fools Day.

new piglett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News From the Farm | March 30, 2015

One of the things that we have been committed to experimenting with in the last few years is reduced tillage on our farm – in other words, fewer tractor passes through our fields and less turnover of the soil. Among other things, we normally use tractors to cultivate out weeds, turn under our cover crops and make beds ready for planting after we have disked a field. There are two ways that we are thinking about reducing the use of tractors and soil turnover.  One is using black poly mulch on our beds and the other is using our cover crops as mulch. The former has proven itself to have been an interim success, while the latter is our ultimate hope and long-term strategy.  

The use of poly mulch on the surface of our beds started about three or four years ago, despite our immense dislike of plastic.  We trialed it in our early tomato plantings, and what we quickly realized was that the plastic cover significantly reduced our energy and water use.  Petroleum comes in many different forms, plastic is one, but diesel fuel is another.  Even after the first time we used the plastic, it was clear to us that we were seeing several big benefits with regard to energy, water and soil/plant health. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 23, 2015

When I arrived at Full Belly back in the heat of July, the farm was well into its tomato season. As a wide-eyed city dweller with zero previous farm experience, coming on as an intern at the height of tomato season was a whirlwind introduction to how hard every person here works to create the beautiful produce that we see in our CSA boxes every week. My very first hours of work on the farm were spent harvesting Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. Several hours after that I was folding tomato boxes for packing and distribution. A few weeks later I was learning the names of forty plus varieties of heirloom and cherry tomatoes so I could help identify them for customers at the Marin farmer’s market. By the end of the summer, we were squeezing buckets worth of tomato seeds to be saved for the very plants that we now see in our fields! 

Over the last few months, it has been incredible to watch those seeds become over 45,000 plants in our greenhouses.  And in the past week, we have steadily been transplanting ALL of those tomatoes in preparation for another summer season! Time flies when you’re having fun farming! One of the most delightful moments that we as interns have in our yearlong internship is witnessing the full circle of farm life, like these new tomato plants. Can’t wait for caprese salad again! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 16, 2015

Full Belly Farm is blessed to have some wonderful folks working here every day, and this week we want to introduce one of them to our CSA members, Inigo Encarnación, who has been working here since 2011. 

Inigo was born in the state of Guerrero, in southern Mexico, in a small village called Huehuetonoc.  That’s an Amuzgo Indian word signifying the tambor, a musical instrument. Inigo has three older sisters, two of whom are now teachers in Mexico. His father grew corn, beans and squash for the family, and had several cows.  Inigo helped out in the fields and enjoyed milking the cows with his father, who he called Jefe. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 9, 2015

Flowers

I remember quite clearly writing my annual “flower article” last year and starting off with a confident statement about how consistent the flowers were despite mother nature’s follies of no rain, warm climate and sudden whacky freezes. Well, this year I might have to rescind that statement  – but just a little. Yes, this year nature’s idiosyncrasies might have fooled us all, including the flowers, with her warm, balmy days all throughout January (the driest and warmest in recorded valley history) then brief flooding in February and then back to a sunny and warm March. How could we not be just a tiny bit confounded to know what the time of year is?

The bulk of our spring flowers were planted months ago, way back in October, which my feeble memory has a hard time remembering. Yes, back when the leaves were turning a golden fall yellow, we were digging thousands of holes for tulips, ranunculus, and iris.  We were transplanting thousands of little snapdragons, godetias, sweet Williams, delphiniums and Canterbury bells. The tractors were loaded up with special seeders and we planted rows and rows of sweet peas, larkspur, nigella, calendula, flax and sweet smelling stock. [Read more…]

ATTENTION ALL SOUTH BAY & DAVIS CSA MEMBERS

 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 Wednesdays

For more details to go Join Our CSA, email us at csa@fullbellyfarm.com, or call 800-791-2110.