*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes
Here are answers to last week’s quiz:
1. How many trees are there in the 3 1/2-acre orchard of peaches, pears and quince that we planted at Full Belly this winter? Answer: We planted 720 trees in our new 3-acre orchard. In a few years, some of the fruit from this orchard will be in your CSA boxes!
2. Which of these plants is NOT currently growing at Full Belly (bamboo, hops, spearmint and rhubarb)? The answer is rhubarb – we would love to grow it, but it really isn’t well suited to our soil conditions and climate. Photo below shows hops climbing the trellis.
3. Full Belly finished our first planting of tomatoes last week. How tall are the tomato plants one week later? Our first tomato seedlings were almost 4-inches tall when we planted them. They stay nice and warm with their roots under the black plastic that we place on the soil and the row cover tunnels that cover the beds and protect them from potential frosts. One week after we planted them, many of them had already grown a couple of inches.
4. Full Belly is past our last potential frost date – True or False? False – The last potential frost date is the full moon in April.
5. How many lambs were born at Full Belly Farm this spring? The answer is 114. We have 80 mama-ewes and many of them give birth to twins and triplets.
6. What was the highest recorded temperature of the year as of 4/18/16 at Full Belly Farm? The answer: 91º F. We are preparing for a lot more hot weather on the way.
7. How many employees at Full Belly as of 4/15 (including the owners, office workers and counselors for kids classes)? Answer: 81. We will be hiring additional field workers and this number may rise to almost 90 people in a few weeks.
8. What direction do the strongest winds usually come from at Full Belly? The answer: North – we often have some strong north winds here at the farm.
9. How many school groups will Full Belly host from January through the end of May 2016? (Note, this includes tours as well as overnight visits). Answer: 23! That seems like a lot to us as well.
10. How many acres of grain are we growing at Full Belly (wheat, oat, milo, dry corn, barley)? This question came up recently in a meeting of the Full Belly owners and even we didn’t know the correct answer until we sat down with a pencil and paper. We have been involved in the effort to bring back heirloom whole-wheat grains. We also grow a lot of grains for our animals because it is very expensive to buy organic animal feed. The answer: 48 acres!
11. How many bunches of flowers (maximum) can we make in one busy Spring day at Full Belly Farm? Last year for Mother’s Day, we picked, bunched and packed almost 1,200 flower bouquets. We are already taking pre-orders for Mother’s Day 2016.
12. How many weddings are going to take place on Full Belly Farm in 2016? The answer: 8
If you signed up to get a flower bouquet this week, the flowers are a mix of Calendula, Bells of Ireland and Snapdragons.
Karinata Kale: This is a unique variety offered only by a couple of Capay Valley farms. It is an open-pollinated cross between red Russian kale and red mustard. If you are not familiar with it, you might want to first taste it raw just to get a sense of the mild mustardy flavor. It was developed by a local plant breeder who thought it might make a good cover crop. One day when we visited his plot we started eating his experiment and got excited about its culinary value! You can substitute Karinata kale in any recipe that calls for collards, chard, spinach or mustard.
Parlsey: If you don’t sprinkle it onto one of your sandwiches or stir-fries, try making salsa verde (capers, parsley, olive oil, shallot or fresh onion, Dijon mustard, garlic and a bit of vinegar).
Strawberries: We grow a variety called Chandler because it has a great flavor and sweetness unlike other varieties that have traded taste for yield, disease resistance and ease of shipping. We pick our strawberries ripe! Please eat them soon after they arrive, or put them in your refrigerator. If some of them get soft, add them to a smoothie!
Salad Mix: One of the more perishable items in your box. If you aren’t going to use it right away you might want to pat it dry with a paper towel and store it in a plastic container with a lid.
Dear Full Belly Farm,
I’m curious. I’ve never seen these before. (See photo below.) What are they? They were on my cilantro leaves.
Oops! So sorry, those are each a pupae of a precious little lady bug. If we had found those on our cilantro, we would probably put them outside somewhere to hatch into beautiful lady bugs. But I am sorry that you found it on your leaf — I hope that it didn’t bother you.
Oh it didn’t bother me at all but fearing it was some sort of scale I washed it down the sink. Now I feel bad. Hey maybe the newsletter could from time to time share this sort of info? Just a thought
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 email@example.com.
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.
Pomegranate Juice – $7/ pint
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.
Take the Full Belly Farm Quiz!!
Answers will be provided in next week’s newsletter. If you are able to submit your answers to the quiz before Monday April 25th at 10:00, and you get the answers all correct, we will raffle your name out of a hat and the winner will get 2 free Full Belly CSA boxes! Send your answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. How many trees are there in the 3 1/2-acre orchard that we planted at Full Belly this winter? The tree varieties are quince, pears and peaches.
2. Which of these plants is NOT currently growing at Full Belly?
D. Rhubarb [Read more…]
If you are getting a bouquet this week, it contains green wheat, bachelor buttons and snapdragons.
Broccoli: Use the stem as well — all you need to do is peel it a bit. The broccoli will store well in your refrigerator.
Cilantro: Chop it up and add it to your omelet or sprinkle it on top of your breakfast egg. Like many herbs, it carries many notable compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health-promoting properties. Freshly chopped, it can be added to salad or pasta dishes. The cilantro will store well in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Fresh Onions: Each of these stems represents an onion plant before it has bulbed. They are often a bit milder than dry onions, but definitely a great substitute in almost all cases. Chop the onions up and use them at the beginning of any sauté. These will store well in your refrigerator.
Lettuce/Salad mix: Please use this earlier rather than later in the week!
Strawberries: We grow a variety called Chandler because it has a great flavor and sweetness unlike other varieties that have traded taste for yield, disease resistance and ease of shipping. We pick our strawberries RIPE! Please eat them soon after they arrive, or put them in your refrigerator. If some of them get soft, add them to a smoothie, or smush them onto your toast for instant strawberry jam!!!
Mother’s Day Sunday always presents a plethora of options for families wanting to spoil that amazing Mom for her special day. Well, we have a secret up here in the Capay Valley – the most perfect experience you could ever give her: the Capay Valley Mother’s Day Garden Tour. Here are the top five reasons why this tour is exactly what that special mother (or garden lover) deserves for Mother’s Day.
#1. It is in a spectacular setting! There is nothing more beautiful than this agricultural valley in the middle of May. The Capay Valley is home to 5 small towns and winds through them all over 20 miles. The hills are still green, the gardens are alive and blooming, the temperature is typically ideal (in the mid 80’s) and best of all, the first of the fruit season will be starting with peaches, mulberries and strawberries! [Read more…]
For those of you who added on a flower bouquet, the flowers that you are getting are Snapdragons and Flax.
Artichokes: These are a delicious “chokeless” variety. Steam them for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size. We are cutting the longer stems because we really like the flavor of the stem and hope you do too!
Arugula: This arugula is mild enough that you can eat it as a salad right out of the bag. Use the arugula earlier in the week.
Broccoli likes to stay cold — and if it stays cold it will store well. The stem is delicious.
Chard: You will find many recipes for chard on our web site recipe page under greens. Please try using the stems, even though their treatment may be a little bit different than the greens. The stems can be roasted with a bit of cheese and bread crumbs.
Green Garlic: Mild flavored, this will store well. Wash carefully where the green leaves meet the stem. This is the garlic plant before it bulbs. A spring delicacy.
Salad Mix: One of the more perishable items in your box. If you aren’t going to use it right away you might want to pat it dry with a paper towel and store it in a plastic container with a lid.
Tokyo Turnips: These greens are the BEST! The turnip roots are very tender. They can be very lightly steamed or roasted, or even eaten raw in a salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
Last summer it seemed like we were short-handed a lot of days. There were crops we just never got to picking, fields that we had to abandon for lack of care, and weeds that marched along as if to take over the farm. That isn’t to say that a whole lot of wonderful fruits and vegetables didn’t get picked and eaten— it just seemed like the farm was running ragged at the edges a lot of the time. A lot of days it seemed as if a triage process was taking place, with a jostle of many tasks requiring attention, and a good number of people demanding priority for the activities that they thought were the most important, overlaid on a reality in which only the most urgent activities got anywhere near done.
Actually, there’s a time like that every year, when everyone on the farm is moving fast, focussed on an immediate task and timeline. There are around 5 months of the year when we plan for ‘all hands on deck’… These are the months when the harvest dominates every day. Each member of our crew plays a critical part in the choreography of harvesting, packing, truck loading and dozens of other activities, each of which is critical to the success of the whole endeavor. We are a business in which no detail is small, the effort of each person has consequence, and we are all striving for a balance and equilibrium when Mother Nature and farm reality will synch up in harmony. [Read more…]
Beets: Our beets roots are tiny and tender. Don’t hesitate to use the greens as well — they taste a lot like chard. Remove the greens from the roots and the roots will store for several weeks in the refrigerator or a cool dry place.They are delicious roasted with a bit of olive oil.
Carrots: (see recipe) Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator after taking off the greens. Several of our members report that they store the carrots by placing them in a container with a lid and covering them completely with water.
Fresh Onions: The same plant that later bulbs and turns into the dry storage onion, but milder at this stage than the dry onion. Perfect for stir fry.
Salad Mix: Use this first – probably the most perishable thing in this week’s box. We apologize if our salad mix is sometimes a bit moist. If you aren’t going to use if right away, you might pat it dry and store it in a plastic container with a lid, lined with paper towels. You can also lay it out on a paper towel, then place it back in the plastic bag with a dry paper towel as a liner.
Much of the rich diversity and prosperity of California’s remarkable agricultural landscape came from the efforts of immigrants. Men and women settlers who came, occupied a landscape that was incredibly rich in an abundance of resources—cheap land, deep fertility of remarkable soils, abundant water, a sparsely settled landscape, along with oil, gold, fish, timber and rich grasslands. They undertook a vast harvest of timeless wealth with the energy of new converts to a religion of abundance. Hard work enabled so much harvest.
My father was one such immigrant, as were my mother’s parents, emigrating from Switzerland to California where opportunities seemed limitless. My father immigrated after the war and first worked in the Redwood forests of Northern California, felling what he called ‘beautiful giants’. He and my mother went on to establish a successful dairy in part of “the Valley of the Hearts Delight” – the Santa Clara Valley – now Silicon Valley. The cows left as the silicon moved in… By 1968 most of the cows were gone and the fabric of the native landscape torn and forgotten. [Read more…]
Carrots: We send you the carrots with their tops, picked fresh. The best way to store them is to remove the tops and put the carrots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The tops can be used to make broth.
Leeks: A good way to clean leeks, if they have soil embedded within the layers, is to slice the leek in half and soak it for 10 minutes. Most people don’t use all of the thicker greens on the top — but they are great if you are making broth.
Parsley: Make salsa verde or a green sauce and use it with your potatoes or other vegetables!
Potatoes: store in the refrigerator, or in a cool, dark place.
Periodically in this newsletter, we share stories from our employees. This week we talked with one of our long-time employees, Jose Gomez Imperial.
Jose was born and grew up in the state of Sinaloa in a tiny town called Ejido Vinaterias, which is about 20 minutes outside of a larger town called Los Moches. Los Moches was the town that people from Ejido Vinaterias went when they needed supplies, and when you ask Jose where he is from, he will often say, ‘Los Moches’.
Ejido Vinaterias has grown quite a bit, so maybe there is more going on there now, but Jose hasn’t been back since 2007, so he isn’t too sure. He grew up with his mother and 2 brothers – a family of boys. [Read more…]
The next generation of farmers.
Andrew, leading a Farm tour.
Two weeks ago, I picked the first ranunculus out of our spring flower field. It was just one bunch, and the pink, purple, and red petals were all lightly dusted with rain. The stems were snipped close to the base of the leafy plant, and then wrapped carefully with one of the green rubber bands that I seem to have permanently attached to my wrists. It was just one bunch, but I felt a budding excitement anyway. In my last two years of picking flowers for wedding and events here at Full Belly Farm, I have seen how quickly one bunch of flowers transforms into an entire field of beautiful blooms ready for clipping. The first sweet peas are finding their way up the twine to finally push forth fragrant buds, and the snapdragons are growing towards the sun – raising their heads higher and higher until they begin to bloom with bright colors. And so it goes. Spring is coming soon, and the flowers at Full Belly Farm are paving the way, calling to the insects, farmers and customers to get prepared to join in the spectacle of the spring equinox parade.
The flower fields this year are some for the record books. Rows upon rows of Love In The Mist, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, Feverfew, Godetias… the March rains have transformed the fields into an emerald dreamland, where drip tape has not been needed, and weeding has been easier to stay on top of than in years past. Last year at this time, the fields were cracking and the soil was dry. Drip tape gave enough water for single plants to grow, but left the rest of the field thirsty. It is such a stark contrast, and while the famers are itching to get summer planting underway, they are also grinning from ear to ear every time they look at their rain gauges, thankful for this “miracle March.” The flowers are blooming a bit slower, and are coming at a steadier pace than last year, but as soon as this next storm passes, and April draws nearer, we know that we will have flowers blooming ‘out of our ears’ as they say. [Read more…]
Last week we announced in this newsletter that limited quantities of Full Belly organically raised, pasture fed meat are available to our CSA members. In response, several members wrote to us questioning the sustainability of raising animals – doesn’t’ it use a lot of land and a lot of water? Is it really ethical? Here are some of our thoughts…
Thank you to our members for their thoughts about the Full Belly animal program. I am one of the owners of the farm and also one of the animal managers, so I have lots of insight into your question! Also as a vegetarian for 30 plus years (now eating only Full Belly meat for the past few years) I have an interesting perspective from that viewpoint as well. I think we should maybe take each species separately. [Read more…]
Our 2016 flower season will begin April 1st. Bouquets are $8 each, or purchase the whole season of 26 weeks for $195 ($7.50/ bouquet). Email us if you would like to place an order.
“If we want farmers to help us produce clean water and clean air and quality soil and recreational areas that all of us can enjoy, farmers can produce all those things, but we have to create both the market system and the public policies to be serious about those things with farmers and to provide them with the kinds of incentives and compensations that enable them to be able to produce those services.” This thought was expressed by Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in 2004. But truth be told, developing the public policies that yield results has proved difficult, for example in the case of pollutants in surface and groundwater – things like pesticides and nitrates from fertilizers – that are used by farmers, flow off of their fields in storms or irrigation runoff, and end up in drinking water. Why have decades of federal and state programs to address this problem never hit the mark?
The state and federal governments have tried various regulatory approaches – one current California version is called the Irrigated Lands Program, with 6 million acres of California farmland and 40,000 growers enrolled. Vast amounts of money (much of it in payments to the program by farmers) have been spent testing water all over the state, with mountains of data piling up over the years to show that chemicals used on agricultural fields are still finding their way into our water supply. [Read more…]
Limited Amount of Pasture Raised Organic Meat Available
The domestic animals living at Full Belly Farm have an excellent diet! It is not only rich in cover crops (with a mix of legumes and grasses), but it also includes a steady stream of organic vegetable culls, and grazing time on the plants left over in fields where we have finished our harvest. The animals are moved frequently from pasture to pasture, enclosed by movable fencing.
Because animals can eat grasses and culls that humans can’t, we think of them as a very important part of the agricultural cycle, and also as a link in the chain of the food supply. When we talk with researchers about “yields” of our organic crops, we encourage them to think of more than the actual crop that they see growing in a Full Belly field at a given time. Each of our fields produces cover crops (fixing nitrogen and returning carbon to the soil), and also yields animal protein in addition to vegetables, nuts, fruits and flowers. [Read more…]
It may be time for your seasonal check-in here at Full Belly. It is always fun to inform you of the day-to-day processes of farming. As you open your box each week to see what the farm is providing, the produce reflects work done and decisions made 90 to 120 days ago. We are busy this week transplanting and planting for spring boxes. The break from a wet January has us in all of the fields, tilling in weeds and some of our cover crops while we set up our work and harvest schedule for the spring.
This past week we were watering flowers, onions, and our new lettuce and broccoli transplants. We are starting to water things like our strawberries, carrots, garlic, peas, broccoli, greens and lettuces planted last November. The produce that you are receiving in your boxes was generally planted as seed last November. Growing slowly in the late fall and cold winter it gathers strength as the days lengthen and average temperatures warm up. We do gamble a bit as we plant in the fall. There have been colder years in the past when December temperatures have all but freeze-killed even our hardiest crops and the months of January and February have ended up being pretty bleak. [Read more…]
Here in the Capay Valley we take our traditions quite seriously – with no messing around. February, first coined as Almond Festival month in 1915 is no exception. Starting in the beginning of the month, as the almond trees begin their month long blooming period, the valley is dotted with pink and white puffy blossoms on dark trunks all along the hillsides and valley floor. Some of these orchards date back to the early 1900’s – planted by farming settlers who often dry farmed in the hills. Their gnarled twisted trunks are testimony to a struggling history of farming on the rugged hot hills. In more recent years many new plantings have sprouted up on the rich valley soil, comprising over 2,000 acres of this much-heralded nut, with many new varieties and more modern farming techniques.
The real tradition of the Almond month begins in the third week of February when the Almond Queen Pageant is held in Yolo County’s only Grange Hall – the Guinda Grange. This hall, dating back to 1910, provides a perfect home for the annual dinner and competition among a group of the valley’s finest high school seniors. These young women are judged on scholastic prowess, community involvement, an interview session and their crowning moment – a speech to the dinner’s attendees. In the speech they answer a series of questions that often revolve around the rural theme of growing up in the valley and how their lives may have been shaped by the agricultural flavor of the area. Over 250 locals pack into the Grange Hall for the evening of farm food and speeches and all are anxious to see who that year’s winner will be. Tears and clapping abound as each one of the woman present their practiced speeches, and family members watch on in pride. The crowning of the Queen is a special moment in all of their lives, though it is less about the actual “crown” and more about celebrating each young woman as an individual. The Queens prestigious duty is to reign over the valley’s Almond Festival the next weekend.
Hannah Muller, second generation Full Belly Farmer, was crowned the 2010 Almond Queen. [Read more…]
Here in the Capay Valley, the days are short and the shadows long. With the cooler weather and long awaited winter rains, the dust has turned to mud and the golden hills have turned a soft green. The coyotes are out roaming the hills, the creek is running swiftly and the bright ornaments of winter decorate the citrus orchards. [Read more…]
We know that CSA members have lots of choices when they decide where to get their fruits and vegetables. Not only are there lots of stores that carry organic produce, but there are lots of CSAs and CSA-type services to choose from: Companies that will do your shopping for you; web sites that offer home delivery of tasty local treats; and produce boxes that can be customized in every which way.
Your Full Belly box is filled with produce that comes from our farm and nowhere else. We used to get winter oranges from a neighbor, but now we have our own orange orchard and for years, we have grown everything that we put in the box. So those of you that get a weekly box for a whole year may really have a special perspective on what it means to “eat local,” you have a sense of how the seasons affect the harvest, and you have a direct, visceral relationship with Full Belly.
Born in the wee hours of January 7, Hazel has us all wrapped around her fingers – she is pure perfection! She joins big brothers Rowan and Arlo and parents Jenna and Amon Muller. She is a third generation member of the Full Belly Farm family!
The gentle rains of the past two weeks soaked deeply and filled the soil of our farm as if it were a 400-acre vessel. The soil itself is probably the most under-appreciated reservoir in the water cycle. We often think of water in terms of ‘blue water’, or stored water – rivers, reservoirs, groundwater or lakes that can be tapped for irrigation and drinking through California’s long dry summers.
The under-appreciated part of the water cycle is sometimes called the ‘green water cycle’ of infiltration, evaporation, transpiration, plant-water efficiency, and the micro cycle of water that is dew or fog capture by growing plants and trees covering the soil surface.
The white trunk of our huge fig tree seems almost luminescent in the early morning fog, with all the leaves dropped and the figs a sweet memory. We harvested a lot of Black Mission Figs and even fig leaves for restaurants from this garden tree. Below near the banks of Cache Creek, a few pigs of various ages are rooting around in the mud while pregnant mom and dad, sleep on straw above.
Three semi-wild cats have adopted us as a source of free food – their three bowls are lined up on the porch. We call them Bobcat, Slant and Princess. I gauge the amount of day and night rain by observing how much of it has accumulated in the cat’s bowls, before I splash it out and give them their kibbles. My neighbors keep track more carefully with rain gauges. The National Weather Service reports that we have had more than 5 inches of rain this season, with more on the way.
We imagine the roots of trees sucking in the moisture as it soaks down lower into the earth. Our crew has less to pick, but it takes them longer — each trip in and out of the field, laden with boxes of produce, involves slogging through slippery mud. Everyone is wearing plastic and rubber from tip to toe. [Read more…]