Today’s CSA Box – Week of September 19, 2016

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

Veggie Tips

Corn: Here’s a way to remove the kernels from the cob: Boil the corn IN ITS HUSK for 8 minutes.  Then remove the husk and wipe down the corn with a kitchen rag to remove the silks.  Then cut off the kernels.  Note that you may need to tip the corn (cut off the tip) because of the corn ear worm — which is easy before you take of the husk.  Just feel to see how far down the ear the damage is.

Chard: The chard is a sign that the days are getting shorter — but not yet a whole lot cooler.  You will be able to taste the difference when the weather cools down and brings out a little additional sweetness. Here are a some simple recipes for chard from the Full Belly archive: Sautéed Chard with Lemon and Hot PepperFrittata with Swiss ChardPasta with Chard and Feta CheeseWilted Chard Salad with Walnuts and Asian Pears 

News From the Farm | September 19, 2016

My husband and I went to a wedding reception last night to celebrate the marriage of Edgar Jacobo and Martha Carrillo.  Edgar is the eldest son of Bonifacio and Maria Joaquina who are both team leaders at our farm.  Bonifacio has worked at Full Belly since 1988 and Joaquina has been here since 1993.  Bonifacio is the youngest of 10 siblings, born and raised in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico.  Like most of his brothers, Bonifacio started working on farms in Mexico when he was 12 years old, usually 7 days a week, saving money so that he could take the bus to school.

Most of Bonifacio’s siblings have also worked at Full Belly from time-to-time, and several of them are working now.  His elder brother Celso is running our cherry tomato crew.  His brother Sergio drives trucks to the city. Their wives also work at the farm.  Their father, Señor Bonifacio worked here, and still comes back every summer, despite our reluctance to see him working, given his many years of service — it’s time for him to enjoy some rest with his extended family!  And it is a large extended family, with many aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, so many that we need to draw a family tree to tease it all out. Probably more than 1/3 of our crew is somehow related to the Jacobo family.

Walking around the crowded room of 500 beautifully-dressed guests, I talked with the sons and daughters of our eldest crew members, many of whom had also worked at the farm, and who now are the doting parents of their own children. The sons and daughters are all bilingual, and some of their children now prefer English to Spanish.  The groom, Edgar  Jacobo went to school in Esparto, started working at Full Belly for the summers and then full-time for awhile, but moved on and is studying to become a police officer.  His sister Briceda is studying to be a nurse.

After dinner, the bride and groom danced together, then the parents came out on the dance floor, then the aunts and uncles, and in a ritualized sequence, parents danced with kids, brothers danced with in-laws, and cousins danced with each other. All the while the little kids were running circles around everyone.  Most of the guests were Hispanic and spoke Spanish, but a group of us gringos were there, feeling very lucky and special that we got to be part of California’s amazing cultural mix.

Bonifacio and Joaquina brought the same work ethic that they show at Full Belly Farm, to the preparation for the wedding of their eldest son. They missed a lot of farm work, cooking all the wedding food themselves and taking care of every detail.  The entire Full Belly crew, with all of their families, were at the wedding as well, cutting short our Saturday workday for what they believed were more important things.

How lucky it is that Full Belly, for so many years, has benefited so greatly from the leadership and hard-work ethic of these wonderful families.  We might be a very different place if it had not been so.

–Judith Redmond

Flower Notes

The flower bouquet this week (for those of you who have added it on to your CSA box) is a beautiful mixed bouquet.

Home Delivery now available in Davis

Our CSA program provides delivery to your home or work place in Sacramento and the East Bay.  We recently added Davis as one of the available home delivery locations.  The cost is an additional $7/ box.

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.

Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes – $30 for a 10 lb box 

New Girl (Early Girl) Tomatoes – $36 for a 20 lb box

Tomato Sauce – $12 for a 24-oz jar

New Girl Tomato Jam – $8 for a 12-oz jar

Peach or Strawberry Jams – $8 for a 12-oz jar

Sun Dried Peaches – $5/ half pound

Sun Dried Tomatoes – $5/ quarter pound

Almond Butter – $17/ jar – ask about bulk orders

Almonds – Raw $15/ pound  -OR-  Roasted $8/ half pound  -OR-  Tamari $8/ half pound

Iraqi Durum Wheat Flour – $3/ 1.5 pounds.

Iraqi Durum Wheat Berries – $3/ 2 pounds.

Cotton Bags (11.5 x 12.5 inches) – $8 for 5 bags (includes sales tax).

Please place your order at least five days prior to your intended delivery date. 

Minimum order of $8.

News From the Farm | September 12, 2016

Top Ten Reasons to Come to the Hoes Down 

Summer for most farms in this area is the busiest time. Produce is growing rapidly and the summer bounty is thick. Everyone is rushing around to complete his or her work from sunup to sundown. I love everything that the summer brings from tomatoes and melons to finally getting to swim in Cache Creek. However the fall is my favorite time of year. There is delicious acorn squash and chard, but also everything slows down for just a moment.  The Hoes Down is our last big hurrah to say goodbye to summer and hello to the fall. Here are ten reasons why you should join us in ushering in the new season: 

Contra Dancing One of the most popular events each year at the Hoes Down is the amazing Contra Dance. People of all ages from the old to the young join hands on the dance floor to be lead through the dances. We have been so lucky to have Driving with Fergus and caller Erik Hoffman to lead our dance every year. Even more exciting we have moved Contra Dancing to the LocaLore stage this year to allow more space for each of you.  [Read more…]

Flower Notes

The flower bouquet this week (for those of you who have added it on to your CSA box) is a beautiful mix of Amaranth, Broom Corn and Zinnia.

Veggie Tips

Grapes: We grow many different varieties of table grape and our feeling is that this has been a really good year for flavor. Grapes are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants (especially in the seeds and skin). Research suggests that grapes play a role in eye health and it is known that the potassium they contain protects people from high blood pressure.

Acorn Squash: We wanted to give you something different, and there has been a hint of fall in the air (9/22 is the official 1st day of Fall), so we hope that you will enjoy a taste of the hard squash harvest.  You can easily bake the Acorn Squash until it is completely soft, slice it up, and have it as an easy, nutritious side dish.

Peppers: These flamingo peppers are good for stuffing – bake them with some rice, browned beef, tomatoes and a bit of cheese on top.

News From the Farm | September 5, 2016

It is hard for organic growers to practice sustainable agriculture without advocating better pay for farm workers. The overtime bill (AB1066) currently on the Governor’s desk would mean a pay increase for our workers.  Instead of the current practice of paying overtime after 10 hours, we would pay overtime after 8 hours in the day or 40 hours in the week. 

During the busy season, we work 6 days a week and 10-hours a day because things ripen 7 days a week and all day long.  Adding the increased overtime pay to the increase in minimum wage to $15/hour starting in 2017, plus health insurance and its rising bite on our budget, plus labor scarcity – and we see that our model of labor-intensive organic farming is perhaps not sustainable. The added expense of these changes will increase our current labor budget by over 35% annually. Different farmers may react differently. Some will cut hours for their crews, and some will create different 6-hour shifts to fill the days work – which could actually harm fieldworkers, who rely on the long hours of summer when the bulk of their annual income is earned. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

The flower bouquet this week (for those of you who have added it on) is a mixed bouquet.

Veggie Tips

Some of our members are writing to us that they are yearning for lettuce and green garlic, and noticing that there have been a lot of repeats in the boxes from week to week.  Bunched greens and lettuce will be back in the Fall — for now, it’s still summer in the Capay Valley! Everything in your box is grown at Full Belly Farm, so only what is in season on our farm. Before we know it, the eggplants, tomatoes and melons will be gone, so now is the time to try all the summer recipes that you want to.

Eggplant: There are lots of recipe ideas for eggplant on our website. Have you made Baba Ganoush yet this summer?

Onions:  A fresh crop — you have been getting garlic for several weeks in a row, but now we have onions! Onions are a good start to any soup or stir-fry.

Peppers: Your box contains sweet peppers and also a spicy jalapeño pepper.  If you only use part of the jalapeño, you can wrap it up and store it in the refrigerator for later.

Tomatoes: Did you know that tomatoes are best stored in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator? The tomatoes in your box were ripened on the vine and should be eaten within the week. They become mealy if they are in a cold refrigerator for too long. Here’s how you could make some tomato juice: Wash and trim them, then cut into quarters or eighths. Simmer for 30 minutes. Press through a sieve. If desired, season with 1 teaspoon salt to each quart of juice. Pour into containers, leaving headspace (the liquid will expand as it freezes). Seal and freeze.

News From the Farm | August 29, 2016

Why should people buy from local farms, and who cares if there even are any local farms?  These are questions for the dog days of summer, good questions for Californians and for CSA members.

Knowing where your food comes from, having a farm to visit with your family, knowing how your food is grown, getting your fruits and veggies picked at their peak  — these are a few good reasons that come to mind, for buying local. Many people also think that buying from a farmer that you know is good for the local economy.  To find out more, a group at the University of California, in Davis recently completed a research project and determined that for every dollar of sales, Sacramento region direct marketing farmers are generating twice as much economic activity within the region as compared to producers who are not involved in direct marketing.

The researchers were comparing farms that sell direct to the public, with farms that do not sell direct to the public. Direct marketing includes activities like CSA and farmers markets.  While the direct marketers had fewer overall sales, they purchased 89% of their inputs within the local region compared to 45% for farmers not doing direct sales.  One of the most striking differences was that for every one million dollars of output produced by direct market farmers, 31.8 jobs are generated (hired labor is a very high percentage of expenses on direct marketing farms) compared to 10.5 jobs created for every million dollars of output on farms that don’t do direct marketing in the region. Here’s a link to the just-published study. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is Globe Amaranth.

Veggie Tips

Basil: This is the first basil you have had in your CSA box in several weeks. Basil stores best if kept dry and not too cold. The Full Belly web site has a recipe that uses a lot of the items you have had recently in your boxes — do you have potatoes left over from last week?  If so, look at this recipe for some ideas.

Cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and basil: When we think of salad in the summertime it’s usually a vegetable salad, no lettuce because we can’t grow that here in the heat.  The cucumbers can be sliced thin, and with the chopped tomatoes, you have the base of the salad.  Slice, oil, salt and then grill or fry some of the eggplant, let it cool and then chop it up as well.  The pepper can be roasted, or you can slice it up raw.  Dice some of the basil and combine everything with some olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Peppers: We have been trying to give you a different variety of sweet pepper each week.  This week it is Jolene’s Choice, sweet and good for snacking.

News From the Farm | August 22, 2016

Recently one of our members wrote to us saying, “I only know the names of Cantaloupe, Honeydew and Watermelon.  We get SO MANY MORE than that. I would really like to know more about them.”  

Full Belly doesn’t grow the standard cantaloupe.  We are focussed more on specialty melons. For example, in terms of orange-fleshed melons, some of our varieties are Goddess (a lot like the better-known Ambrosia), Charentais (a French, wonderfully aromatic cantaloupe with smooth skin), Honeyloupe (a cross between Honeydew and Cantaloupe) and San Juan (a bit larger than the others, football-shaped.) Some of these melons are “netted” – with rough skin (Goddess and San Juan) and others are smooth-skinned (Charentais and Honeyloupe). [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week will be Cockscomb.

Veggie Tips

Garlic: If your garlic is building up on the counter, try roasting a batch of it — that makes it much milder to eat, and gives it a sweeter, earthy flavor.

Peppers: For the 2nd year in a row we constructed a shade cloth over our entire pepper field to protect the fruit from sunburn.  Many of the early peppers had a malady called blossom end rot, but now they are producing abundantly.  We are harvesting some wonderful varieties, many of them heirlooms. Sweet varieties are: Gatherer’s Gold, Jimmy Nardello (in last week’s boxes), Jolene’s Red Marconi Choice and Flamingo.  Spicy varieties include: Shishito, Padron,  and Jalapeño.  We are putting a mix of sweet peppers into your boxes this week.  Stuff them, grill them, roast them, or simply cut them up fine and add them on top of a salad or pasta dish.

shade cloth over peppers

Peppers1

Potatoes:  We put potatoes in your boxes every other week, which unfortunately means that 1/2 of our biweekly members never get them and the other half always get them. Try making potato soup!

News From the Farm | August 15, 2016

I hope that a few photos of farm activities will give CSA members a sense of being just a little bit closer to where your fruits and veggies are coming from.  These are nothing too fancy, just simple photo-snaps taken with phone cameras by various Full Bellies as we do our work.

crew lunchSeveral times a year, Jenna and Amon and several other farm chefs put together a “crew lunch” so that we can all have a sit-down time together.  The lunch usually features Full Belly-grown products. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

The flower bouquet this week (for those of you who have added it on) is a mix of globe amaranth and marigold.

Veggie Tips

Green Beans: An easy way to cook green beans is to blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water (or steam them over boiling water), then fry them quickly with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper.  You can jazz them up with some sweet peppers and bacon.  Roasted nuts sprinkled over the top also combine really well with green beans.

Asian Pears:  Shaped like an apple, such a perfect size for an easy snack.  They aren’t going to soften up much more – they are crisp and firm when ripe. They will store for several weeks if you aren’t ready to eat them.

Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers:  These are very special Italian sweet grilling peppers.  The Jimmy Nardello is an heirloom variety, originally from southern Italy, that has been recognized in the Ark of Taste because of its rich flavor. This isn’t really a roasting pepper – it’s a frying pepper.  You can fry them whole, or split them in half, remove the seeds  and stems, and fry them that way.  Use a high heat in a heavy pan, toss and turn them as they cook, and sprinkle with salt.

Tomatoes: Our heirloom tomatoes are producing in huge quantities.  Brandywine, Cherokee, Marvel Stripe, Vintage Wine, Japanese Black, Italiano… Can you describe the differences in flavor?

News From the Farm | August 8, 2016

One of the questions frequently asked by visitors to Full Belly Farm is how the farmers ever chose to go into farming.  The question makes sense because there aren’t a lot of farmers in the U.S. (less than 2% of the population), and the best way to learn to farm is through the experience of growing up on a farm, or working on a farm. In fact, four of the kids that were born and grew up on Full Belly Farm have decided to stay and farm here – carrying on a tradition that goes back in time for many generations on their father’s side.

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did grow a lot of vegetables when I was young, and much of the inspiration for my vegetable gardens came from my English grandfather, who grew food for his family in Birmingham England, in the allotments that were conceived as a way for needy families to grow their own food.  The English allotments were a lot like community gardens that some towns here in the U.S. have – or even more like the Victory Gardens that we have had in the U.S. in the past to increase food production in wartime. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week will be Globe Amaranth.

Hoes Down Harvest Festival

The Hoes Down Harvest Festival, hosted by Full Belly Farm, is going to be on Saturday October 1st this year.  This is a wonderful event celebrating sustainable agriculture and raising funds for community organizations. Featured activities include music, workshops, hands-on demonstrations, the circus, contra dancing and delicious organic food.  All Full Belly CSA members are warmly invited to bring the whole family.

The Hoes Down is volunteer-fueled, with shifts available in the Children’s Area, Food Service, Parking Lot, Dishwashing and more.  Email if you would like to be a Hoes Down volunteer, or go to our web site.

Veggie Tips

Green Beans: An easy way to cook green beans is to blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water (or steam them over boiling water), then fry them quickly with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper.

Melon: Try making a melon smoothie by blending together 1/2 of a large melon, 1 cup milk, 4 ice cubes, a tablespoon of almond butter and (optional) 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Store the unused portion of your melon in the refrigerator.

Peppers: A great way to cook peppers is over an open flame either on the gas range, or grill.  You can cook the peppers until the skin blisters up on all sides, then cool them down and scrape off the skin.  This method doesn’t involve using oil, and enhances the flavors.  Use the peppers in a vegetable salad, or marinate them and put them in your sandwiches.  Some of our sweet peppers have very thin skins, so scraping off the skin isn’t really warranted.

Potatoes: An exceptionally healthful, low calorie, high fiber food – a very good source of vitamin B6, potassium, Vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, fiber, and pantothenic acid.  Here’s a recipe for Chunky Roasted Tomato, Potato and Garlic Soup.

News From the Farm | August 1, 2016

The California State Fair wrapped up last weekend after a nearly three week run at Cal Expo in Sacramento. The State Fair, which features everything you would expect in a typical fair – deep fried everything, carnival games with oversized stuffed animals, rickety rides that make everyone a little nervous, cotton candy and more – celebrates California agriculture in a fantastic fashion. 

Staying true to the history of fairs, the California State Fair hosts competitions to find the “Best of California” in categories from cattle to cheese – in fact, over 21,400 different entries were received by fair staff this year! The youth livestock show (where 8,870 livestock animals were on display) saw exhibitors from 4-H Clubs and FFA Chapters from around the state. The champion animals were then sold in a livestock sale that raised over $230,000 for those young people. The olive oil competition saw 161 entries from all over the state – and some of the top winners were from our small Capay Valley.  [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week will be a mix of amaranth.

Cherry Tomatoes can be Special Ordered!

Some of you may have noticed that we are using grey boxes any time you add items to your box.  We can also add additional fruits and vegetables and for the next few months of the summer, we encourage you to add on Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes.  You can purchase one month of cherry tomatoes added to your boxes, $4/basket, or 4 baskets/ $16. Minimum order of 2 baskets.

Veggie Tips

Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomato salad can be spiced up with some cumin, goat cheese and cilantro. The salad can be folded into a tortilla or added to a sandwich – as well as eaten straight.

Cucumber: Summer salads at Full Belly are scarce on lettuce, but full of cucumbers, tomatoes, chopped basil and other vegetables.  Cucumber salad can be dressed with a bit of red onion, cilantro, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  

Peppers: This week you are getting sweet peppers and a couple of hot and spicy jalapeño peppers.  We are putting the jalapeño peppers separate from the sweet peppers so that you don’t get mixed up.  You don’t have to use the jalapeños up all at once.  If you just use half of a pepper to spice up a soup or tomato sauce, wrap up the other half and store it in the refrigerator.  If you are worried about the spiciness, scrape out the seeds of the jalapeño. Half a pepper is about enough to add a bit of spice to a pot of soup.  If you like spiciness, use the whole pepper. Be careful, do not touch your eyes while handling hot peppers!

Heirloom Tomatoes: So many tomatoes this week!  These tomatoes are great made into a vegetable salad —Chop everything into bite sized pieces: the tomatoes, some grilled (or fried) and salted eggplant cooled to room temperature and some grilled peppers (or cook them directly over a flame, no oil needed). Season with a vinaigrette dressing.

News From the Farm | July 25, 2016

We will start this Beet article with the cooing of the morning doves that at dawn begin their amorous calls to one another in a repetition of cadence and tone – 3 soft notes repeated 3 or 5 times, and then answered by another and another. A day break song welcoming the promise of another morning – softly, thankfully.

They begin the energy of awakening, as each moment of the change from dark to grey to sunrise is marked by another voice in the chorus.  Finches, sparrows, hawks and mockingbirds all add their calls to the day in a progression that is millenniums in the making and shall be so in the coming ages. A song beyond our time, from before our time – a gift given for the appreciation of the listener.  [Read more…]