Today’s CSA Box – Week of October 27, 2014

beets

beets

eggplant

eggplant

pomegranate

pomegranate

collards

chard

winter squash

winter squash

parsley

parsley

leeks

leeks

spinach

spinach

Farm Closing for Holidays

PLEASE NOTE: FULL BELLY WILL BE CLOSING DEC. 7 THROUGH JAN. 4, 2015

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. 

This extension position could be a remarkable asset for agriculture here in our region, as well for the community at large. Given the demographics of Yolo County, as a significant and diverse farming community, you might assume that small farm issues would be part of university and government nomenclature and discussion. This unfortunately, has not been the case. That is why the hiring of an advisor to address the unique and particular issues of small farmers has not only important pragmatic implications, but also signals a broader acknowledgement of the value of small farms in the agricultural landscape.

As a Full Belly Farm CSA member, you know intimately – one bite after another – that small farms don’t just exist on the periphery. Because of your direct relationship with our farm you know first hand the significance role that small farms play both in terms of production and socio-economics.  As a group, you folks are way ahead of the curve, especially ahead of university, government and institutional thought, which has for many years been committed to industrial efficiency with little regard for diversity of scale. Think agribusiness – the box stores of farming. 

The refreshing backlash is that with all the great steps forward that we have made in agriculture – namely an infrastructure of abundance and access – we are coming to recognize that these improvements have not come without critical personal, environmental, and cultural consequences. Yes, the pendulum does swing both ways and this is at the heart of the ongoing  “reinvention” of farming. The very good news is that step-by-step, small farms are finding stronger and more secure footholds and becoming less marginalized in the agricultural landscape. Think “local food” and how every supermarket across America boasts that moniker.  Green washing aside, small farms are at the very least part of the conversation again.

After sitting through 2 full days of interviews with the “best and the brightest”, I take stock that agriculture is truly dynamic and that the future has a lot of wiggle room. I am pretty optimistic that some of that room will include diversifying and strengthening small farms in our urban, peri-urban and rural communities. With that development there will be a better understanding of how food is produced. Because of proximity and transparency, small farms are a vital part of a healthy agricultural sector.

–Andrew Brait

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.)

Wreath Making Class at Full Belly Farm

Every year Full Belly offers a class to our members so that all of you have the opportunity to learn how to make a beautiful dried flower wreath right here at the farm where the flowers were grown and dried. The wreaths make perfect holiday gifts, and they last for years. The class will take place on Veteran’s Day, Tuesday November 11th, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  We will serve you a delicious organic lunch and provide all of the supplies that you need.  The cost is $45 for adults and $25 for children (we don’t provide child care). Class size is limited, so please call or email to reserve a spot: 530-796-2214, or belly@fullbellyfarm.com.

 wreath-maker

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).

Pomegranate Juice – $6/pint or $10/quart. Order by Oct. 31st for delivery in the week of Nov. 3rd. Sorry, NO home delivery.

Apple Juice – $7/half-gallon or $4/quart. Order by Oct. 31st for delivery in the week of Nov. 3rd. Sorry, NO home delivery.

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

Lamb and Chicken Available

For those interested in our certified organic 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. 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 | October 20, 2014

With 80 or more people working at Full Belly it is sometimes daunting to get to know everyone.  There are field crews, a packing-shed crew, CSA customer-support staff, irrigation crews, an animal-care crew and a marketing team, just to mention a few.  Occasionally, we take space in the Beet to feature one of our staff, thinking that our members may also like to get to know the people that pick their vegetables.  Previously, we have always interviewed someone who has worked at the farm for many years, usually year-round. This week, in contrast, we talked with Angel Martinez who has only worked at the farm for a short while.

Angel started working at Full Belly a few months ago, at the height of the summer busyness, and in that short time he has been assigned quite a variety of tasks – “a little bit of everything” as he put it: packing peaches; planting strawberries, onions, broccoli and cabbage; sorting nuts; working on the almond-sheller; pulling stakes out of the ground in old tomato fields; pulling up plastic row cover and drip lines from finished fields; and of course, picking vegetables like eggplants and chilies. [Read more...]

News from the Farm | October 13, 2014

As I look back on my first two weeks as an intern at Full Belly Farm, I find it hard to believe that I have only been here for that long. I have already had the amazing opportunity to learn, experience and do so much that it feels like I have been here for much longer.

I applied to be an intern because I wanted to learn about all aspects of organic farming and from day one here, I have been able to jump from project to project to see how many different parts come together to make Full Belly Farm.

I worked in the packing shed with Joaquina, the shop manager, where I helped pack and put together CSA boxes and orders for stores. I learned how to correctly wash and bunch greens and root vegetables like rainbow chard, dino kale, Tokyo turnips and watermelon daikon, and I sorted through giant bins of harvested garlic and onions to find the best looking ones to be sold. [Read more...]

News from the Farm | October 6, 2014

The Full Belly web site has a recipe page with an index that contains many recipes from past years.  When you get your box, if you aren’t sure how you are going to use one of the vegetables, the wealth of recipes that we have collected is worth a quick visit.  The best way to use our index is to look at the list on the right hand side of the screen and click on the vegetable you have in mind or click the link in the electronic newsletter.

There are definitely vegetables that you will get in your CSA box that will stump you temporarily, but over time, once you experiment with them, you may end up developing a favorite way to use them.

Because the pace of our activities keeps all of us so busy, and because so many of us go out to eat a lot, getting people to eat their fruits and veggies from a CSA box can be a hard sell.  It involves preparing and cooking your meals at home, which takes time. But there are lots of reasons why the effort is worth the trouble, not the least of which is that the increased consumption of locally grown organic fruits and vegetables will pay off in improved health.  Besides, once you get into the habit, it really doesn’t take all that much time! Home cooked food really is healthier, tastier, educational for the kids, and less expensive. [Read more...]

Thank You for being part of the Hoes Down

We don’t have photos of this year’s Hoes Down ready yet, but the weekend went really well.  If you have a favorite photo we invite you to send it to us and we will share it with other CSA members.

It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking to open up our farm to so many people.  It is a huge benefit to us that so many of our CSA members are part of the Hoes Down. We know that our CSA members will help us to keep the farm safe.  

Our volunteers were particularly inspiring this year.  We have many that come back year after year and know their jobs well.  The experienced volunteers teach the new volunteers what to do, and with 400 volunteers all working together, this kind of help is priceless.  

It takes us a while to get all of our figures in place, but every year so far, the Hoes Down has been able to make generous donations back to the community.  Thank you all so much for being a part of this wonderful Harvest celebration!

pumpkins in the field

News from the Farm | September 29, 2014

 We are Tidy!!

We are tidying this week in preparation for our big day here on the farm. Yesterday we had a crew of 40 volunteers cleaning up, stuffing scarecrows with new wheat straw, designing and building a 500-bale straw fort, erecting the tipi, painting signs, making tamales, and spreading 25 tons of mulch to settle dust and make the farmyard neat and beautiful. This week, along with our regular pick, pack, weeding and planting schedule – we are ready-ing and steady-ing for Hoes Down.

After a long and dry summer, where days were pretty intense and a layer of dust had settled over and in about everything, a half inch of rain this past week washed and polished what was looking pretty drab. One can just see the trees and grass exhale a collective sigh of relief as the cleansing moisture wiped our world clean. It was a baptism, a purification and a regeneration. We welcomed and celebrated the transition as one of the marks of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. [Read more...]

News from the Farm | September 22, 2014

 Faces from the Fields

Maria Machado has worked at Full Belly Farm for five years, sometimes packing tomatoes and at other times picking fruits and vegetables.  Her husband Sergio works at the farm as well, on the irrigation crew. Last June, Maria was put in charge of her own picking crew. We wanted to tell a little bit of her story to our CSA members since Maria is an important part of the chain of many hands and many people’s dedicated efforts, that result in the CSA boxes that you enjoy every week.  

On a recent afternoon when Maria’s crew was picking padron peppers we sat and talked for a few minutes. The weather was a bit cooler and more comfortable than it has been in weeks past. From where we sat, when I reminded Maria that most of the people getting CSA boxes live in the city, and may never have worked on a farm, we couldn’t help looking around and feeling happy to see the hills on either side of us, the trees providing shade to sit under, and the sounds of the wind moving across the field. [Read more...]

News from the Farm | September 15, 2014

Shifting Seasons

The farm is shifting and easing into the start of a fall season. As days shorten, so do our work hours – now starting at 7 am and finishing by 5. The crops that we cultivate and seeds planted reflect the fall and winter approach. Andrew and Jan are planting fall greens, carrots, beets and broccoli. Potatoes are emerging and we hurry them along to size up and set tubers before any frost determines their lifespan. Gone for 2014 are melons and stone fruits. Tomatoes are beginning to show their decline as they head toward the end of a long and fruitful season.

Thoreau wrote “Love each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.” Indeed, the conversation about seasonality is a deep and significant historical awareness that we may be remembering, in turn enriching and connecting all of us to the ‘food shed’ that supplies our communities. We may be moving to the shared responsibility that is central to a vibrant and healthy food system – where those who eat are responsible for those who produce, and those who produce know their farm patrons, acting as stewards of the resources that support those patrons.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | September 8, 2014

Hoes Down Harvest Festival!

Another summer has come and gone. Baby goats were born, tomatoes were packed and pages on the calendars turned. The farmers on Full Belly Farm generally do not count time day to day. Instead, we see the changing seasons by the events that have become the constant reminder that another year has passed. The fall is a time when the Full Belly farmers celebrate the beautiful harvest of another year. It is a precious time, full of total exhaustion, and excitement, as we mark our calendars and create no fewer than fifty to- do lists as we plan for the celebration that reminds us all to share the beauty of rural life, and lets us share our farm with others.  This year marks the 27th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival – we hope you will join us. In case you need convincing, we have created a list of the top ten reasons to come to the Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Full Belly Farm: 

#10 – The Location – If you and your family have yet to visit Full Belly Farm, this is a perfect time to do so! Not only are there walking tours of the entire farm throughout the day, but you will also get to see the animals and crops that we watch over each year. Come see a working farm get transformed into a full-on festival! [Read more...]

News from the Farm | September 1, 2014

 Fall Babies!

We have a real soft spot for babies around here. We anticipate their arrival with much eagerness and give them lots of love and treats.  All of our new babies add something special to the farm, and remind us how lucky we are to have such a close connection to the cycle of life.   

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Pinto Bean gave birth to a healthy baby boy calf last Friday. He is perfect – complete with a dipped white tail.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | August 25, 2014

Really Fun Fundraiser for a GREAT Organization!

When I show visitors around Full Belly Farm, they sometimes ask me about the sign that we have at the top of the road, with the logo, “Grown in the Beautiful Capay Valley.”  In answer to their question, I always tell them the following cautionary tale: “There was once a very beautiful place known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight. This Valley included the largest fruit production and packing region in the world, with 39 canneries and beautiful stone fruit trees flowering every spring. As California became more and more urbanized, the name of that Valley was changed. Do you know what the new name is…? Silicon Valley. 

We hope that our local efforts, represented by the sign at the top of the road, to promote the Capay Valley, will protect agriculture here, so that we don’t suffer the same fate as the Valley of Heart’s Delight.” [Read more...]

News from the Farm | August 18, 2014

The Seven Year Itch

We received this sweet story from one of our CSA members about the community that has been created at their CSA site – University Terrace. If you have any stories of community building at your CSA site, please send them to us. We would love to read them (and share them, too!). Have a delightful week – and enjoy your box! 

Seven years ago Alix Schwartz decided that the people living at University Terrace, a condominium complex housing UC faculty and staff here in Berkeley, should start to receive Full Belly boxes. We arranged the pick-up hours to be from 4 to 7 every Friday. There were also neighbors beyond UTerrace who wanted to join in, and Pancho started delivering boxes in the large re-purposed garage on our property on August 3, 2007.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | August 11, 2014

Taking Stock

The day I left New York was rainy and cold. I put on my winter coat and set out to live in a place I had never been and to work at a task I had never done. When I arrived at Full Belly Farm in April as the newest intern I was overwhelmed by the scale of production and by the busyness that swirled around me. But it did not take long for me to feel at home. 

The sense of community and belonging on the farm took me aback, as I was welcomed in with open arms by people willing to teach and eager to help me settle in. From the very first I began seeing, learning, and experiencing new things. Each day seems to offer a new challenge, and every person on the farm is a wellspring of information and experience that I have only just begun to get a glimpse of.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | August 4, 2014

Letter of Appreciation from the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic 

Below is a letter from the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, who we have been working with for several years, providing produce to low-income women who are undergoing cancer treatment. This program is completely run by volunteers. At some of our CSA sites, if a box is not picked up or if you call in in advance to cancel your box, that box is then picked up and taken to the clinic. We love offering this service to the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, and they love receiving the produce. Thanks so much to those of you who choose to donate your boxes! 

Jenna Muller

Heartfelt Gratitude from the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic 

Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic is a state Licensed Health Clinic providing free complementary alternative medical treatments to low-income women with cancer. For many of our clients, the weekly CSA Box donation might be the first time ever trying organic produce, or the only time she is afforded the luxury of taking home and preparing healthful, nutritional meals for herself.  

Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic receives a bountiful weekly donation from Full Belly Farm. Penny Marienthal is a Clinic volunteer dedicated to providing nutritious produce to the clinic’s low-income clients with cancer. In Penny’s own healing journey with cancer, the importance of quality food was a priority. Penny felt that delivering cases of fresh produce to the clinic was something she could do to support other women with cancer in hopes of supporting their health, spirits and emotions in this process.

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[Read more...]

News from the Farm | July 28, 2014

 California State Fair 

A few days ago I went to the California State Fair with my niece Emi. Walking in at the main entrance, we were greeted by promotional displays of cars and hot tubs, but we soon found ourselves in the big barn, talking to farmers about their sheep and watching them groom their llamas and alpacas. Several farmers, working on a large handsome sheep standing still for them as they clipped away, called it “sculpting,” not grooming. Two teenage girls, there with their family and their sheep, were making yarn bracelets, and gave Emi and I one each, as they told us about their ranch in Oroville.  Everyone was preparing for the show when their prized animals would be judged. 

The livestock shows require a significant commitment from the animal’s owners who often spend almost a week at the fair.  The animals get weighed and checked by a vet. There is a week-and-a-half dedicated to 4-H and FFA animals and their keepers, but then the fair opens up to all animal producers and some of the most beautiful livestock animals in the state arrive, products of farms where families have been breeding and keeping animals for generations.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | July 21, 2014

July Photo Round Up! 

photo 2

We woke up this morning to cloudy skies, cool weather, and a few drops of precious rain. It wasn’t enough to do any damage to our summer crops, but enough to remind us of what it smells like after a rain and keep the dust down for a few hours. These tomatoes are just flowering. Can you even believe how many there are?! [Read more...]

News from the Farm | July 14, 2014

Meet Hideo “Tommy” Tomitaka!  

We are so lucky to have amazing groups of youthful interns come to our farm each year. They spend their time learning about all aspects of the farm, from animal care and rotational grazing techniques, to planting, to harvesting, and even a little bit of marketing. We have been participating in a program called the Japanese Agricultural Training Program for several years now. Our interns from Japan stay with us for just over a year, and we miss them so much when they leave! This week we will say goodbye to Hideo “Tommy” Tomitaka, who has been an excellent part of the team for the past year. The following is a short interview with him about his experience:

Jenna: What were your expectations about Full Belly Farm before you arrived? 

Tomi: I didn’t have very much information about Full Belly before I arrived, but I did know that it has been doing a great job in organic farming and its CSA program for many years. I expected to learn lots about how to successfully farm organically and how to manage a farm. [Read more...]

Full Belly recognized for Excellence in Reusable Packaging!

We were so grateful to be recognized by the Reusable Packaging Association with an Excellence in Reusable Packaging award for our awesome CSA boxes! These boxes have helped us avoid 6.54 tons of cardboard waste per year, which results in an annual reduction of 34.1 tons of greenhouse gas emissions! Hooray! To make sure that we can continue to be as environmentally responsible as possible, please return your box to your CSA site! 

News from the Farm | July 7, 2014

We Love Our Customers! 

Summer has officially started at Full Belly Farm – as evidence by the truck loads of melons, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, and dark circles under the eyes of every farmer. Exhaustion is a common side effect of the summer months, which can, on occasion, lead to a grumpy farmer or two. Luckily, glee outweighed grumpiness last weekend as we had a surprise calf born on the farm. A handsome and dark red fellow, he was born late into the night on Independence Day, perhaps forced into the world a day early by the sound of firecrackers or a Piccolo Pete. 

Receiving feedback from our customers has never been easier than now, with the invention of social media. Just a few hours after the new calf was born, we posted a picture of him on both Instagram and Facebook, asking for name suggestions. The below photo and caption elicited the following responses: 

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Baby boy calf born late into the night on Independence Day. We are thinking of calling him Firecracker. Any other suggestions? [Read more...]

News from the Farm | June 30, 2014

Conservation Tillage and the Drought

Many conversations turn these days around the question — “how are you doing for water this year?” Water and California’s prolonged drought are subjects central to long term well- being for all who live in the Golden State. Seldom has attention been so clearly tuned to our intimate relationship with the cycles of climate and the vast system that delivers rainfall and snowpack to your tap. Drought becomes a moment for social focus and attention with the potential to re-think our relationship to resource use, when that resource seen previously as so abundant becomes constrained by scarcity.

We have built much of California’s abundance on the thinking that basic resources were unlimited. Oil and water are now mixed in the same fishbowl where abundance driven systems and design expectations are demonstrating real limits. From transportation systems, how we designed our cities, to the food systems that have evolved, patterns of consumption are based on a history of plenty and the expectation that the good of the moment and the need to keep an economic engine stoked to the maximum trumps long term thinking.  [Read more...]

News from the Farm | June 23, 2014

Summer Time is Yummy Time

One of the things I love most about summer is how simply yet sumptuously we eat without much time devoted to food preparation. In the winter time when it’s cool outside it’s fun to spend long hours over the stove, simmering and slow cooking and taking the time to really bring out flavors, but in the summer, it’s all about letting the freshness and coolness sing. Often all the produce needs is a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of salt. Breakfast this morning was a toasted Acme baguette with fresh mozzarella and sliced New Girl tomatoes, with a bit of salt and basil. It couldn’t have tasted any better! Let me know if you ever need any ideas!

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 Amon and I love cooking for events in the summer. Above are pan fried padron peppers and zucchini fritters, below are goat cheese and Jimmy Nardello pepper croustinis.  [Read more...]

Congratulations!

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Congratulations to Full Belly farm kid Hannah Muller on her graduation from the University of Oregon with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology. Hannah has returned to the farm to become our head florist and begin her career as a floral designer! You can visit her beautiful blog –  blossombellyfarm.blogspot.com  to see her work! 

News from the Farm | June 16, 2014

Raising a Family on a Farm 

There are several people more qualified than I to talk about raising kids on a farm, but I’ll offer my perspective as a (relatively) new mom. Whenever people find out that we live on a farm with a baby, their immediate reaction is “Wow! Your kid is so lucky! All that open space to run around!” This sentiment is completely true and one of the things I was most looking forward to before my baby was born, but it doesn’t begin to describe the full experience of having kids on a farm. The truth is, there are so many more blessings and challenges to raising kids on a farm than I ever imagined. Rowan is now 22 months old and has really come to love being a farm kid! 

I love watching my child interact with our crew and pick up a little Spanish. I love that he is hearing another language on a regular basis. He is so eager to be able to communicate with them. Sometimes in the afternoons we go out and help the flower crew and he will start to spout off all the Spanish words that he knows. “Buenos Dias!” “Caballo!” “Gracias!” He knows that Catalina is always good for a piece of fruit and Isobel keeps crackers and cookies up on the shelf. He has learned many of the crew member’s names, and knows which trucks they drive. He was lucky enough to be offered a ride on the farm’s biggest and newest tractor by Pancho last week, and I think it was the highlight of his year. Our crew has watched many farm children grow up, and I relish watching him delight in the crew and the crew delight in him. It is really fun to see him making so many new friends. [Read more...]

News from the Farm | June 9, 2014

Summertime Walk

This weekend we welcomed CSA members, their family members, and Full Belly Farm friends to the farm for our annual Open Farm Day. Though temperatures topped out at 105 degrees, we snacked on strawberries, chatted about soil and sheep, and traversed the farm on our covered wagon. 

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