Today’s CSA Box – Week of August 22, 2016

*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes

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).  

We also grow melons with green flesh like the Galia  (netted) and Haogan (not netted). Both of these green-fleshed melons are sweet and juicy, with tropical flavor notes. The Haogan is an heirloom variety with an amazing spicy aroma and an unusual tropical flavor, but it doesn’t ship well and thus only goes to our farmers markets.

melons

These melons can all ripen off the vine, but we pick them ripe and full-flavored by looking at their color in the field.  All of these melons have to be picked once they are ripe, regardless of how many melon orders we have in the works.  Managing the availability of 12 or 14 different melon and watermelon varieties can be pretty tricky. During the week, each day may bring a different melon going into your CSA box, which is why we don’t usually tell you the variety — there can be more than one, even in one day!

I think most of you have had the Sharlyn in your boxes this year — it is a favorite here, oblong shape with netted skin, whitish flesh and a pink band around the seeds when it is ripe to perfection. Another one that has done well this year is the Piel de Sapo.  Like the Sharlyn, it is a creamy-fleshed melon, but with some tropical flavor hints.  The Piel stores well (it has a thick skin and doesn’t give off a lot of aroma) and is also known as the Santa Claus melon. Piel de Sapo translates from the Spanish as “toad skin.” The skin is green with deep green stripes and yellow spots.  It’s related to the Canary melon — both of them store well and even get sweeter with a few weeks off the vine.

Full Belly has been growing melons and watermelons for 30 years, and we constantly try new varieties, changing the mix, striving to find melons that grow well here and taste delicious.  We always try to make the melon season last as long as possible.  In the spring, to get a jump on the season, we transplant baby plants into the cold soil, cover the soil with black plastic, and then cover the beds with row-cover, creating a warm protected space for the plants.  If we plant melon seeds early in the season, it can be a bit dicey because unless the soil is consistently above 60-degrees, the seeds don’t germinate well — so it is only the later fields that are direct seeded.  This summer, in addition to two transplanted fields, we had eight successive additional direct-seeded plantings.  Depending on the weather, we could have melons through mid-October!

–Judith Redmond

Flower Notes

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

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 Medley Cherry Tomatoes – $4/ basket  -OR-  4 baskets/ $16.

Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes – $30 for a 10 lb box – NEW PRICE

Slicer 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.

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

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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…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting flowers this week with your CSA box, you will be getting a beautiful bunch of globe amaranth.

Veggie Tips

Basil: The basil needs to be stored dry and cool (not cold).  One way to do this is to put it in water like a flower bouquet in a cool part of the kitchen.  The leaves will turn  black if they are wet and in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Corn: In the class we had last Saturday with Bradley Ogden, he showed us how he takes the kernels off the corn cob.  He boils the corn IN ITS HUSK for 8 minutes.  Then he removes the husk and wipes down the corn with a kitchen rag to remove the silks.  Then he cuts the kernels off.

Flamingo Peppers: This variety is yellow right now — and tastes like a bell pepper.  Soon the peppers will turn orange and then red, getting sweeter every week.

Potatoes: You can make potato salad without mayonnaise if you want.  Cook the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then sprinkle them with a good olive oil, plus salt and pepper.  Cut corn kernels off the cob and add them to the salad, with a bit of basil and even some of the cherry tomatoes (halve the cherry tomatoes first and flavor them directly with a good salt).

News From the Farm | July 18, 2016

Several months ago we reported on a bird diversity survey being done here at Full Belly Farm by researchers from Washington State University. They are interested in understanding bird species diversity on farms and how the layout of farms and landscapes affects birds. They just completed their second survey and one of the researchers shared her thoughts: 

“Full Belly had the highest diversity index of the California farms for both surveys. (I haven’t calculated it for Washington and Oregon farms yet and will do this once we survey them again.) Full Belly also had very high species evenness without any particular species really dominating. Interestingly, the Capay Valley farms all had high evenness. I’m planning to explore further how the surrounding landscape is affecting the species we find on the farms and what the potential implications of this are. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is a mix of colorful Amaranth!

New Site in Oakland near Lake Merritt

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Full Belly Farm is opening a new pick-up site starting this week, July 20th at the Bay Grape Wine Shop in Oakland.  The site will be open from 12:30 to 9:30pm on Wednesdays and is across from Lake Merritt at 376 Grand Avenue.  You can sign up to pick-up your box at this site through our web site.  

Veggie Tips

Peppers: The peppers in your box are called Gypsy Peppers.  As the summer continues, their color will change from yellow to orange to red, getting sweeter each week.  Gypsy peppers have slightly thinner walls and skin than bell peppers.  They are great for roasting, grilling and stuffing.

Tomatoes: We grow many types of tomatoes, but a lot are heirlooms – they come in many colors and shapes, each one an individual.  Heirlooms are often this way – with a lot of natural variation in the plants in the field.  Some of you have asked why it is that Full Belly sends the more ‘regular’ and standard-looking tomatoes to our store accounts.  It is true that the stores demand those tomatoes – but we discount the more interesting ones and send bigger bags to our CSA members.  We hope that you enjoy them! These are best stored in a cool place, but not so cold as your refrigerator.

Cucumbers: Who needs lettuce when you can make your salad with cucumbers and tomatoes? I usually add chopped fresh herbs like basil or parsley.  Diced onion, marinated for a few minutes in the vinaigrette salad dressing is also delicious.

News From the Farm | July 11, 2016

Hard at work for several years, regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been writing rules and regulations that some say are the most sweeping reform of our ‘food safety’ laws in 100 years. ‘Food Safety’ in this context refers to prevention of food borne illnesses, and the Produce Rule (finalized in 2015) sets on-farm standards that will apply to all farms growing fruits and vegetables.

Many farm-based organizations like National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and California’s Community Alliance with Family Farmers, mobilized volunteer and community leaders to advocate standards that were realistic on the ground and consistent with principals of sustainability.  These groups argued that there was too much focus on keeping wildlife off of the farm; too great an effort to eliminate the use of animal-based soil fertility (like compost); and unrealistic requirements to document every detail of vegetable production. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is Ammi (a Queen Anne’s Lace type) and Amaranth!

Veggie Tips

Cabbage: This Blue Vantage variety of cabbage is coming out of its storage in our cooler. We hope that you agree that it is nice to have something green along with summer sweetness.  Think about shredding up the cabbage to use in some fish or vegetarian tacos.  Sprinkle it with salt and lime/or lemon and let it marinade and wilt for a few minutes prior to using it in the tacos. The cabbage will last for some time in your refrigerator.

Corn: Last week we wrote about the corn earworm (go to the Farm News page of our web site and look at last week’s newsletter).  There will sometimes be earworms in the tips of your corn.  Just cut off the tips if you feel the worms there.  Here is a good way to cut the corn off the cob.

Tomatoes: They have arrived. Full steam ahead.

News From the Farm | July 4, 2016

The peak of summer is almost here! It was super-hot all of last week, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day, and we had so many cherry tomatoes, melons, green beans, and sunflowers, to pick…  So last week I spent a lot of time bunching sunflowers, picking cherry tomatoes and truck loading. In terms of truck loading, during the summer we struggle to get everything into our trucks. The pallets of tomatoes and melons are very tall and heavy so it’s hard to move them and our beautiful flowers take lots of space because we can’t stack them. Needless to say, working all day under the crazy hot sun is very hard.  However, after work, you can find the best melon ever, which encourages us to go to the next day.

This kind of summer work reminds me of my first summer at Full Belly Farm. I arrived here end of May, 2015 and started working as one of the interns. I’m Shohei Shimizu, from Aichi Prefecture in Japan. I’m still a student of Hokkaido University because I took 2 years off after I finished sophomore year. At that university, I studied Agricultural Economics. When I was looking for some interesting books in the library to kill time before the next class, I happened to find a book about CSA. That’s why I’m here, in Guinda California. [Read more…]

Flower Notes

If you are getting CSA flowers, your bouquet this week is Zinneas!

Our Apologies

Our wonderful delivery driver of many years, Francisco Tello Segura (our photo of him is several years old), is at home convalescing after a kidney transplant. This is wonderful – he had been waiting for a kidney for several years and the new kidney should improve his quality of life immeasurably. However, it caught us a bit flat footed at a time when our truck routes are very complicated and our trucks are very full.  As a result, our alternate drivers have had a hard time getting to some of our CSA sites on time. This has inconvenienced many of our members and we sincerely apologize.  We are working hard to solve these logistical problems.

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