Today’s CSA Box – Week of March 30, 2015

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

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.

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Andrew at the San Rafael Farmers Market.

First, when the beds are covered with plastic, the weed pressure is next to nothing and we might end up doing one very light tractor cultivation on the sides of the beds in the furrows, rather than having to do multiple cultivations across the fields. This significantly reduces tractor traffic, but also reduces hand labor that we might otherwise need for weeding and hoeing.  In the past, in the early tomatoes, we needed to do a lot of hand weeding. We covered the early plants to protect them from frost.  When the beds are covered, it creates a great environment for the plants, but also for the weeds and when we uncovered the beds, there would be a bit of a jungle to deal with. Now that we are using black plastic mulch in the early tomatoes, we have the tomato plants growing through a hole in the plastic, and very little weed pressure. The labor savings is tremendous.

There’s a second reason that we have tempered our dislike of black plastic: We are seeing 25% to 30% reduction in water use. The mulch covers the bed and helps the soil to retain the moisture much longer – it is not being lost to the evaporation. Because of the drought conditions, we’ve been looking at ways to increase our already fairly proactive water efficiency practices, and we are really impressed by the water conservation from the plastic mulch.  We not only used it on summer crops last year, but also on some fall crops that were planted in late summer. The water conservation and the success of those crops was remarkable.  They may have been some of the most productive and best crops we’ve ever grown.

The third reason, and in many respects the most important reason that we came around was that we have found that the ground is incredibly friable under the black plastic. Without mulch, the biology dives deeper and all the critters and microorganisms are deeper in the soil, out of the heat and dry zone.  Now, we see activity all the way up to the top. With the plastic mulch, moisture is retained in the bed all the way to the surface, so we see roots all the way to the surface of the soil. The effective biologically active rooting zone has increased, which means direct plant benefit from this soil improvement.

But plastic is still plastic, no matter what you call it. Unfortunately, the plastic is only used for one year, after which we pick it up out of the field and send it to be  recycled. We understand that there is a down side to using it, but we see it as a stepping stone to a more regenerative, cover-crop-based mulching system.  

Our long-term experimental approach, an alternative to the plastic mulch, is to figure out how to use cover crops to mulch our beds and reduce or even eliminate our tillage. There are a couple of ways that we have been experimenting with this.  In one system, we chop the cover crops in place with a tractor implement that has knives on it that chops and drops the biomass, creating a coarse mulch. After the chopped up cover crop dies, it creates a dry mulch in place that we leave on the bed to smother out weeds.  We then plant our crop through the mulch using a coulter disk that slices open enough of the soil to sow seed or transplant small plants.   

The other thing we’ve tried is to roll the cover crop down with a chevron-shaped crimper. This tool was developed by the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania and has been on loan to us from U.C. Davis. This tool rolls down the full-standing, waist-high cover crop right in place and crimps the stems every 6 to 8 inches.  This kills the cover crop, leaving it lying on the ground as a heavy mulch. Again, we plant through the mulch and hope that weeds will be smothered by the cover crop covering the soil.

There are some big practical hurdles around weed and moisture management in the systems that we are experimenting with. Whenever we irrigate, some of the cover crop may regrow.  If the mulch is not totally effective, some weed seeds will germinate. And this year, because the beds are all so dry since there has been no spring rain, we aren’t sure how to get the optimal moisture window for planting. 

We’re making this up as we go along. It is a grand experiment. We have a compass bearing, but don’t know exactly how to get there. The reason we are so interested, is that as farmers, our primary focus is on soil health. In that pursuit, we spend a lot of effort to build soil structure. Soil health is the net result of biologically dynamic, nutrient rich, intrinsically populated conditions. When we turn the soil over using tractors and tillage implements we are disturbing it, if not destroying the physical structure that has formed. We recognize that we have crucial biology in the soil and we are realizing that the tillage is counterproductive to establishing and maintaining underground habitat for the diverse community of microbes, fungi, arthropods and earthworms. In the final analysis, it is the health of that community that ultimately defines the health of our soil.  

– Andrew Brait, Judith Redmond

Spring Break is Coming!

Will you will be out of town over Spring break? Please let us know 5 days in advance if you will not need your CSA box. Thanks!

Special Note to our NHI members: The NHI, Emeryville site will be closed April 3rd. NO CSA box deliveries will be made that day.

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.

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.

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.

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.

News from the Farm | March 2, 2015

 Lambing Time

The trick is to be extremely quiet. Don’t slam the truck door, don’t make a squeak as you squeeze through the gate and don’t, whatever you do, turn on your flashlight yet! The night check is all about listening first – your ears alone will tell you right away what your check has in store for you. There might be a ewe cooing to her freshly born lamb over here, while another ewe is maahh-ing desperately over there – has she lost sight of her lambs in the orchard, is there a predator nearby, or is she about to go into labor? Sometimes one ewe will give birth to three lambs and another ewe is absolutely sure those three lambs belong to her, and at 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s up to you to figure out which ewe they actually belong to. Sometimes there are two ewes that have obviously given birth, four lambs around their legs, and you witness all four lambs nursing from both ewes. Sometimes there are a few fresh lambs in one corner and no ewes taking ownership of them. Sometimes there is deafening silence, which means you can head right back to bed. (That one doesn’t happen very often!) I’m talking about lambing season, folks, and for the animal team here at the farm, this season’s almost over.

Farming animals is quite different from farming vegetables. For example, a farmer can plant a seed, water it, weed around it a few times, and then let Mother Nature take the reigns for a while until it comes time to harvest. His carrots won’t die if he takes a day off. On the other hand, a farmer who keeps animals has many mouths to feed other than his own, every single day. And it doesn’t stop at food – they need clean cool water, fresh straw for nest boxes, clean coops. The cow has to get milked at dawn and dusk, the eggs need to be collected in the morning and afternoon, and everyone needs to be moved to new pasture every couple of days. It’s a rather demanding trade, this animal husbandry.  [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 23, 2015

What we put in the CSA boxes last year

Veggies in Your 2014 Boxes

(Not including Fruit or Alliums)

Number of weeks out of 48 

Bunched Greens

41

Carrots

24

Potatoes

22

Lettuce and Salad Mix

19

Beets

16

Eggplant

15

Tomatoes – mostly heirlooms

14

Peppers (Flamingo, Jimmy Nardello)

14

Winter Squash (mixed varieties)

13

Broccoli

13

Cabbage (Green, Napa or Red)

11

Herbs (chives, dill, parsley, rosemary)

9

Basil

8

Spinach

7

Cucumbers

7

Turnips

6

Summer Squash

5

Asparagus

5

Red Daikon

4

Green beans

4

Fennel

4

Cherry Tomatoes

4

Kohlrabi

3

Celery Root

3

Rutabagas

2

Radishes

1

Black Eye Peas

1

Artichokes

1

Every year we like to look back at what went in the CSA boxes during the previous year.  This year I compiled the table that we are including here so that you can think back about how you used the vegetables that we put in the boxes over the 48 weeks that we made deliveries in 2014. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 16, 2015

With weather in the 70s and blossoms on the trees, it’s spring fever for certain. And with thoughts of spring come thoughts of planting, and seeds. Indeed, such were the thoughts of an enthusiastic group of farmers and gardeners from the Capay Valley and beyond, who gathered at the Western Yolo Grange Hall in Guinda at the end of January for the 2nd Annual Seed, Plant and Scion Swap. It was a chance to bandy and barter all manner of plant matter, from seeds to starts to fruit tree cuttings. Seed and plant exchanges like this one have sprung up across the country in recent years, and represent a hearty interest in community resiliency and local self-sufficiency.  Regionally saved seeds can be selected for, and therefore more adapted to, the specific climate and environmental challenges of a locale, and for farmers or gardeners, saving their own seeds expresses independence, knowledge and access. The exchange and preservation of seeds can be organized relatively informally, as a once a year community seed swap (like here in the Capay Valley) or it can take on the more formalized form of a seed library. Across the United States, there are now over 300 seed libraries, all providing low-cost or “free access to seeds, protect[ing] the diversity of our food sources, and educat[ing] community members about growing food and saving seed.” (seedlibrary.net)

Inspirational, right? Perhaps you already use your local seed library or seed swap, or perhaps you now want to start one. But did you know that there’s an important campaign under way to ensure that these models of local and regional seed sharing don’t become unfairly targeted by state department of agriculture laws that were written with commercial seed transactions in mind? [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 9, 2015

As if breaking a spell cast on the land, rain came and the farm breathed a sigh of welcome.  The driest January on record for the region is now past and the sobering reality of three consecutive years of warm temperatures and little to no rain and low Sierra snowpack should be reason for the farm community to consider the practices they employ and develop comprehensive strategies for the long term. 

The impacts of the last few years touch many parts of our farm. Our fruit trees are short on the chilling hours that they require for healthy bloom and fruit set. Things are blooming early – by more than 2 weeks – which may mean more susceptibility to frost later in the spring. Winter rains are needed to replenish our wells. When the small side creeks that border the farm flow even for a few short days, we can measure a rise in well water levels as the ground acts as a reservoir for the beneficial winter rains. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 2, 2015

“In the next 20 years, 400 million acres of farmland will change hands.” Severine von Tscharner Fleming was speaking to a gathering of young and not so young farmers and farm allies in Capay Valley at the Guinda Grange Hall. She came equipped with facts, stories, models and strategies to share – all with a purpose to ensure land access to a rising generation of agriculturalists.

In the Capay Valley, we are fortunate to have a growing community of young and beginning farmers and ranchers. The challenges they face to build a successful career are numerous, but perhaps the biggest is reliable access to land. Nationwide, the price of farmland has risen dramatically in recent years, more than tripling in value from 2003 to 2013. What’s happening to farmland in the U.S. is part of a larger phenomenon also occurring in developing countries. [Read more…]

Harvest of the Month

We recently enjoyed a visit from Bill Jensen who works at Northside Elementary School in Cool California (a bit east of Auburn). He came to pick up vegetables for the Harvest of the Month program, a statewide effort to increase access to fruits and vegetables in schools throughout California.  Bill explained that the school’s garden doesn’t come into production until March and he needed some broccoli to serve.  The students will develop presentations for the classroom and prepare a recipe to take home.

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In Bill’s photo, kindergarten students are harvesting their first crop of carrots.

News from the Farm | January 26, 2015

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. 

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[Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 19, 2015

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…]

Grazing on Grasslands 101

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

News from the Farm | January 12, 2015

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…]

News from the Farm | January 5, 2015

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…]

LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD

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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.  

News from the Farm | December 1, 2014

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!

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Hard to choose from so many delights! About 50 people joined us for dinner. [Read more…]

Symphony of the Soil

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

News from the Farm | November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Beet

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…]

News from the Farm | November 17, 2014

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…]

Apologies if you get your renewal email twice

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!

News from the Farm | November 10, 2014

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…]

News from the Farm | November 3, 2014

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…]

News from the Farm | October 27, 2014

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…]

Esparto High School Homecoming Parade

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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.)