News From the Farm | January 20, 2020

It is remarkable how busy our farm continues to be, even with short days and cold mornings.  It is true that there are fewer crops to harvest, but we also have a smaller crew.  The year-round crew is here of course, but a lot of folks take extended time away during the winter.  People will start returning in a few months.  Our Farm Dinner dates have been announced, as well as our Spring Open Farm Day (Saturday April 25th).  We are also trying to figure out schedules to enable many of us to leave next week for the Ecological Farming Conference in Asilomar.  In the office, we feel tax season on the way — no sooner have we closed December payroll than we have to create W-2 and 1099 forms for everyone.  

Intern Max seeding greens just before rain.  

Our crew raced to get a few fields planted before the recent rains.  We have planted flowers, plus some cool weather greens that will be ready for March or April harvest.  The greens take longer to get to harvest when the weather is cold.  We have a group pruning our orchards, a slow job that takes a lot of close attention given to each tree.  As Arturo explained, when they are pruning they have to think about keeping fruit-bearing limbs low which assures less dangerous ladder work during harvest; they want to keep a beautiful open form to the tree so that there is plenty of air flow around the fruit; and they want to prune out unproductive limbs.

The pruning crew, Arturo, Jose and Alfredo

On cold mornings, when it is raining or drizzling, the crew still turns up, ready to pick the vegetables for our CSA boxes; prune the trees in hopes of a great peach crop come summer time; and care for the animals so that the eggs keep coming.  Many thanks to the Full Belly crew!

—Judith Redmond

We are lightly cultivating beds in this photo, preparing them for planting.  Note the difference between the cultivated beds and those on the right that have not beed worked yet!

News From the Farm | January 13, 2020

During the Full Belly winter break I visited Mexico with friends and we took a bit of a road trip between Puebla and Oaxaca. Oaxaca is an amazing center of both biological and cultural diversity.  During our drives along windy mountainous roads, avoiding major highways, we enjoyed vistas of subtropical cactus forests, and in the villages and towns we enjoyed the rich cuisine based on native plants. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | January 6, 2020

 

Happy New Year to all of our members!  The weather was mild during our break — cold, but no deep freeze events.  The rain that we had was gentle.  The cover crops look good — ready to jump up when warmer weather comes back.  We are looking forward to 2020 and hope that it brings health and beauty to our members.

News From the Farm | December 2, 2019

 

Dru at the Farmers Market (photo by Lauren Betts)  — 

One delight of our Thanksgiving week was the remarkable change in weather. On Wednesday evening the temperature dropped to 28, freezing pipes, nipping the last leaves on the apples, peaches, walnuts and almonds; and frosting the last of the summer’s non-frost tolerant crops like potatoes and summer flowers. (Potato tops are dead and the spuds are resting in the soil until we harvest them later this winter.) All manner of summer frost-sensitive crops are now dark and done. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving News From the Farm — 

We recently had a meeting of our Crew Supervisors and listened to them echoing themes that we ourselves have been discussing:  “There are not enough crew members here on the farm to do the work.  Each of our crews needs at least 5 or 6 people, and we often have only 2 or 3 people trying to do the work of 6.  The only solution is to cut back crop production 20% across the board.”

Basically, our crew is pointing out to us the fact that every year we hopefully plant, irrigate, weed and care for our beautiful crops, but often leave too many of them in the field because of the labor shortage that so many other farmers are also experiencing. The crux of this labor shortage has to do with the fact that the majority of US farm workers are immigrants, they always have been immigrants and most future farm workers will be immigrants as well.  With the current crackdown on immigration from Mexico and Central America, and the lack of public policy that would allow immigrants to work in the US legally, the stress on US agriculture is increasing.  Construction and Landscaping, which also rely on immigrant labor are in the same quandary.  And the labor shortage can be especially difficult for organic farmers growing labor intensive fruits and vegetables and often needing proportionally more labor because of a greater amount of hand weeding on organic farms. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 18, 2019

Hello Fellow CSA Members,

As the year draws to an end, it is once again time for a report from the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (CMC) which provides free integrative health services to low-income women who are living with a diagnosis of cancer. The produce boxes donated each week by Full Belly Farm and its CSA members who donate a skipped vacation box or add a box when they renew are visible manifestation of support and kindness, and they are received with joy. 

Earlier this year CMC moved into a beautiful, welcoming new space. The rooms are light, airy, and bright with color. During each shift, when they arrive for their acupuncture, bodywork, herbal healing, or other services, CMC clients can pick up fresh FBF produce to take home for themselves and their families.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 11, 2019

One has to love a bargain- it may be a personality virtue – re-use, recycle, repurpose. Or maybe it is a malady that drives profligate hoarding or the accumulation of another’s junk; or being blind to eyesores; or an overactive imagining about future time that will be allocated for turning straw into gold. In my troubled view, my straw is generally junk steel. 

Admittedly, I have gone on a spree of imagining about good deals for too long.  As a result, my steel resource pile is a bit too big, the list of get-to-it projects enough for a couple of lifetimes.  The good ideas to be built from that pallet of auction junk become magnificence in my imagination as I raise my hand.  When I get it back to the farm, the filing system for my expanded resource base has not been well organized.  Where did I put that widget?  I know that I have one around here somewhere! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 4, 2019

We are enjoying dry, mild weather with only light winds and wonderful crisp cold nights and warm days. A walk around the farm still reveals signs of all the wind we experienced last week, with twigs and trash needing to be cleaned up. The lovely Fall weather we experienced this week is very much appreciated. 

Many seasonal crew members have left the farm, returning to lives in Mexico, about which I know very little. Despite our best intentions of rounding out the work cycle, we still love to grow those tomatoes, melons and summer crops, all of which require that we increase the number of people working here during the 6-month busy season. Our year-round, permanent crew knows that the work days are getting shorter — a mixed blessing for them with more family and personal time, but lower take-home wages. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 28, 2019

This family worked hard at Full Belly all spring and summer, and just left for Mexico  — 

We are still in the thick of our olive harvest but were not able to continue because of the power outages that started on Saturday 10/26.  We take our olives directly to the mill for pressing because that is the way to get the best oil, but the Seka Hills Olive Mill will be without power and has told us that their doors will be shut, right in the middle of prime time. Another dimension of the problem is that stores have placed veggie orders, but when we arrive with the deliveries we are turned away because there is no power.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 21, 2019

Throughout the year the landscape of Full Belly Farm goes through many changes.  Flowers bloom beside the campsite tents in summer, cover crop fields change into parking lots for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in the Fall and roaming chicken coops pop up in fields all over the farm.  And when the days get shorter and the evening air begins to chill, our farm goes through a new transformation as we prepare the landscape for the winter months ahead. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 14, 2019

Olive harvest has begin  — 

The Full Belly Harvest Festival took place last week long before the big Fall harvests were done.  The only Fall harvest we had completed was our almonds, and that was achieved by farm owner Paul Muller and several assistants working long dusty days while missing some of the staff that had helped in years past and have now moved on to other jobs.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 7, 2019

A small sampling of the diverse pumpkin carvings at the Hoes Down.  — 

The Hoes Down Harvest Festival came (10/5) and went leaving many happy memories.  It was a tremendously successful, smooth day thanks to the help of hundreds of wonderful volunteers.  Thank you to all of our CSA members and other friends who came out to enjoy the farm in this perfect weather.   We are so thankful and appreciative of you all! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 30, 2019

Howdy y’all! Full Belly Farm’s Education team – Sierra & Haley here!  We’re back to teach you the ABC’s of the Hoes Down Harvest Festival! If you like these, you’ll LOVE what we’ve got cooking for you, coming up on October 5th.  

OOnly a few days until the Hoes Down! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 23, 2019

For the past thirty-one years, there is one particular autumnal day where Full Belly Farm is magically transformed into a bustling festival.  That festival is what we lovingly call, The Hoes Down Harvest Festival. It is a time to throw down our hoes from our hard summer of work, and kick our heels up in celebration! 

If you’re reading this, chances are that you already know about Hoes Down.  You’ve tasted the heirlooms, visited the marketplace, sat-in on workshops, and camped beneath the trees in the walnut orchard.  But do you know how it all comes together? [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 16, 2019

Stilt Walking at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival  —  

Howdy y’all! Full Belly Farm’s Education team – Sierra & Haley here! It’s been a couple of years since our last Hoes Down Harvest Festival, so we thought we’d give you a quick reminder of all the fun to be had, coming up on October 5th! Lo and behold, here’s the first installation of the ABC’s of the Hoes Down Harvest Festival:    

A – Agricultural Workshops 

Interested in how to raise chickens, discover native plants, or learn the fundamentals of natural building? Well the Hoes Down is the place to do all that and more.  There are over 25 workshops available with the price of admission.  

B – Barnyard Animals

Visit all of your favorite Full Belly Farm regulars that help make this farm run.  Stop by and learn how Eclair gets milked, what our lucky pigs get to eat, how our chickens move around the farm in their mobile homes and how our sheep get shorn.  Don’t forget to visit the FFA’s petting zoo too! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 9, 2019

Produce cornucopia at Day in the Country  —  

Full Belly has been pretty busy lately.  First of all, we hope to put our best foot forward for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival on October 5th and with the summer focus on harvest and crop production, many corners of the farm have been overlooked and now need to be tidied up.  We hope that our CSA members are able to visit the farm for the Hoes Down since it is one of our favorite days of the year.  Note that your tickets have to be bought on-line in advance this year.  There will not be ticket sales at the gate. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 2, 2019

Seems like we may have a great crop of pomegranates, come October and November.

We recently wrote a letter to Governor Newson’s office about two climate change bills introduced into the legislature that have very little funding for agriculture. The bills would enact a bond act in 2020 that the Governor’s office is developing.  Here are excerpts from our letter:

I am thankful that increased attention is being given to prevention of and restoration after drought, wildfires and floods. I am a farm owner in Yolo County California, farming along Cache Creek in the Capay Valley.  My farm and home have been directly impacted in the last decade by significant wildfires (County Fire, 2018 and Sand Fire, 2019), frightening flooding of Cache Creek, and the impacts of the most recent California drought.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 26, 2019

Alex and Frederick raking the almonds into a central line, ready for the sweeper (shown below) to pick them up.

 

 An Ode to Thank the Capay Valley Farm Shop for the Use of Their Awesome Forklift

It was late on a summer’s night

Many hands had not been on deck 

Projects were piling up

bellies were growling

Worry wrinkles were deepening [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 19, 2019

Here are a few photos snapped on a Saturday at Full Belly:

Leo bringing in the Jimmy Nardello peppers coming out of the field by the bin.

Rye sorting Red Lasota potatoes. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 12, 2019

Our wonderful intern crew transplanting broccoli  —

This column, News From the Farm, is a chronicle in the life of the Full Belly Farm organism, through the eyes of various writers who are ridiculously immersed in every aspect of farming and thus want to reflect upon the hidden underbellies, layers and intricacies that are part of the life of a farm.  I want to state at the start that I understand that not everyone finds farming quite so fascinating, and only mention this because I have a fear that such might be the case with this week’s topic which touches upon farm liability insurance and the reasons why the Full Belly policy was abruptly cancelled.  The reader has now been warned and may move on to other more scintillating topics, as he or she might wish. [Read more…]