*Click on produce above for more information and Recipes
Hoes Down Festival Fun!
Our Hoes Down has come and gone — but it left some magical memories. Adventures and fun filled the day. One of the most memorable moments will go down in the history books. It occurred when the heavens opened up with a downpour that sent a few folks running for cover while the farmers jumped for joy. Our sound man ripped out the electrical connections and moved his crew on-stage to clear off his equipment and get it out of the rain. The band on stage was The Dixie Giants. When they lost their sound system, they gazed at the heavens and took a deep breath. Stepping off the stage, they were engulfed by the crowd where they continued their Dixie magic, leading the crowd on a short meander. Finding a tent that they could fit under, they continued to play their amazing music to a crowd of ecstatic, hollering fans. Within 5 minutes, the rain had stopped and with a diminished sound system the next band was soon able to play, but not before the Dixie Giants finished their set with inspiring acoustic music that set the crowd afire. Lightning had been lighting up the sky for some time, and it continued for hours. In the campsite no one took their eyes off it and everyone lined up in their lawn chairs to enjoy the beautiful light show, something that few native Californians have ever seen before in their home state.
— Judith Redmond
Circus Bella photo: Janine Gillham
Dunk tank photo: Gerry DeOliveira
Bobbing for apples photo: Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography
Full Belly is opening a new CSA pick up site on Oct. 14th in the “Inner Sunset” neighborhood on Lawton Ave in San Francisco. The new site is listed on our web page (http://fullbellyfarm.com/join-our-csa/neighborhood-delivery-sites/san-francisco-csa-sign-up/). If you are interested in joining, please fill out the on-line application form. Please spread the word and tell your family, friends and co-workers about the new CSA site. Thanks!
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 is Back! – $15/ jar – ask about bulk orders
Almonds – Raw $12/ pound -OR- Roasted $7/ half pound -OR- Tamari $7/ half pound
Sun Dried Peaches – $5/ half pound bag.
Sun Dried Apricots – $5/ half pound bag.
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.
Our frozen apple juice & pomegranate juice are back. This juice was pressed from our organic apple & pomegranate crops. They are not pasteurized. It will be delivered to your pick-up site frozen. (Sorry, no home deliveries or delivery to the Virginia St, Berkeley site.)
Apple Juice: $7 for a half gallon or $4 for a quart
Pomegranate Juice: $6 per pint or $10 per quart (Sold Out)
On Sunday night we all went down to the creek to watch the lunar eclipse. It was the perfect end to all of the farm cleaning that was done that day to prepare for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival this coming Saturday.
I have two weeks left in my internship. I arrived on the farm a year ago Sunday, and was initiated into the Full Belly life through the craziness that is the week before Hoes Down. When I look back on my time here, I am amazed to see what I have learned and accomplished.
I learned how to work in a greenhouse and plant the seeds that became the transplants which grew into all of this summer’s melons and tomatoes. I sat on the sled on the back of a tractor and transplanted acres of asparagus and winter greens. I learned how to harvest and pack watermelon daikon and sun gold cherry tomatoes, among other varieties of produce, for restaurant orders and CSA boxes. I was taught how to pack those orders onto pallets and load them onto delivery trucks, and then I got up at 3:00 AM the next morning to sell those vegetables at the Farmers Market. [Read more…]
Another summer has come and gone at Full Belly Farm. Baby goats were born, tomatoes were packed, and our bellies were filled with delicious summer bounty. The farmers from Full Belly generally do not count time in ‘day-to-day’ – instead, we observe the changing seasons by the way the mornings feel (the cooler the better!), the flavors of the fruit, and the events that take place in our valley. The fall is a time when the Full Belly farmers celebrate the whirlwind that is our summertime. 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 to prepare for the wonderful festival that reminds us all to share the beauty of farm life. This year marks the 28th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. We hope you will join us. In case you need extra 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 (three of them!) 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…]
I began working at Full Belly Farm as an education coordinator. The other Beet articles that I have written have all been based around that. I love being part of the education program that the farm has, but those responsibilities do not always fill up my time. There are other projects I find myself working on during the year. These include the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, which is right around the corner. I don’t have to tell you that, as I am sure you have already purchased your tickets. Farming projects such as planting, packing, harvesting, and weeding also fill my time. However, the projects I love the most are connected with cooking at Full Belly Kitchen (http://fullbellyfarm.com/events/full-belly-kitchen/).
In May we completed our certified kitchen and it is beautiful. The inside is crafted using exposed wood, lovely butcher-block counter tops and large hill-covered storage rooms. The outside is covered in reclaimed redwood panels from barns around Yolo County. Other parts of the building have sand and clay from the creek bed to give it a natural adobe look. On top of all, that the grounds are excellently landscaped with native plants growing all around. My favorite part of the whole building though, is the fun and imaginative creations happening inside. [Read more…]
Richard Rominger (behind) listening to Jerry Brown (center) at the Day in the Country fundraiser (9/13) for the Yolo Land Trust. Dozens of chefs from all over the Bay Area and Sacramento regions used locally grown products to wow hundreds of guests. The display (left) features donated late summer tomatoes, quince, apples, winter squash, cucumbers and peppers.
Our crew started this morning, Labor Day, at 7:00am. We had been starting at 6:00 and then 6:30, but as days shorten, the workday changes with the morning light. Like so many mornings over this long summer, our crew of 85 men and women came to work to pick, plant, clean fields, change pipes and pack our harvest for distribution to the many purchasers of our produce. For the more than 30 years of this farm, we have all worked on labor day—perhaps missing the central point of the day, to honor and acknowledge the contribution of those who keep our world moving.
Most California farms probably were at work today—I know of few who can stop to relax. There is harvest for example—that window when the crop is ready and the market has a place for what you have tended and raised. To miss or slow for even a day changes the ability to be at the market tomorrow, for example Tuesday’s farmers market would be a bit emptier. Wholesalers, restaurants and stores expect crops to appear and abundant displays to be refilled. [Read more…]
My sister recently asked me to participate in a project to get writers, scientists and artists to write letters to their children’s children, telling future members of their own family living at the turn of the century, what it was like to be alive during and after the historically crucial events of the U.N. climate talks in Paris at the end of 2015. The project is a national effort of alternative weekly newspapers that will connect with millions of readers.
To Future Farmers,
I can’t imagine what it will be like for you, so many years in the future, but I hope that some elements of the California landscape are still there for you. I hope that the terrifically productive, deep soils that grow so much sweet and sustaining food will endure. I hope that the beautiful full moon will still be floating across the night sky encouraging seeds to sprout and grow.
When the oak trees that I planted here at Full Belly Farm are 100 years old they will still be youngsters. As teenage oak trees, they will tower over the comings and goings – native Californians watching the changes coming over the landscape. Sometimes I try to imagine the lifespan of the oak trees on our farm. Some of them were here when the Indians roamed. All of them have their roots deep in the California soil. I hope that some of the oak trees that I planted will still be here for you, the future farmers, overseeing your planting, weeding and harvesting. I hope that they will still be healthy in your time. But if the climate has changed drastically, what will happen? [Read more…]
Amon and Rye Muller digging post holes for the new Full Belly Farm sign that has gone up at the top of our road. Next time you visit the farm, you will get to see it!
It was my parent’s 32nd wedding anniversary last week. To me, along with wishing them a happy day and giving them a big sloppy smooch on the cheek, this also meant working along side them on the farm on another hot summer day.
There are challenges and incredible benefits to working with my family members. As sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers, we are all joined in the valiant effort of trying to feed the souls and bellies of those who surround us. Additionally, we all try to remember to ask how weekends went, how children are, and check in with each other on a personal level. During these long summer days, it would be easy to slide into work and forget that we are family. [Read more…]
You are all invited to the 28th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival taking place on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th at Full Belly Farm. Make a corn husk doll, paint a gourd, tour the farm, make ice cream, or try your hand in any step of the process from sheep to shawl. Dozens of hands-on workshops are offered on topics like organic fruit trees, grass-fed beef production, cow milking, herbs and flowers, small farm equipment and more! All of these activities are included in the price of admission. We have our music lineup chosen, from the contra dance led by Driving with Fergus to Wolfthump, the Dixie Giants and The Humidors.
The Hoes Down is hosted by dozens of Capay Valley Farms and community organizations. The real muscle of the day are hundreds of volunteers who become a part of the Hoes Down by giving their time at one of the food booths, in the children’s area, in the parking lot — or in many other ways. Volunteer shifts are 3 or 4 hours and we appreciate all of our volunteers by offering them free entry and camping. We are ready to sign you up for your shift — You can contact the Hoes Down volunteer coordinator through a portal on the Hoes Down web site volunteer page — we’ll get right back to you.
All proceeds from the Hoes Down are donated back to community organizations that participated in the weekend. For more information: http://www.hoesdown.org.
Our amazing Full Belly Farm Market Crew – from left to right:
Shohei, Ellen, Becca, Ben & Baron
One of the kids in the Sprouts Cooking Club (www.sproutscookingclub.org/), where they teach kids how to cook!
The Lunch Table
As an intern at Full Belly, one of my responsibilities is cooking lunch once a week. Every day we gather together to pause and share a meal. It is a much-needed respite after a long morning and provides the nourishment and energy we all need to finish the day. Sitting down alongside your friends and coworkers is lovely, but to be honest my lunch day is often the most stressful day of the week. The interns all take the responsibility of cooking a nourishing and filling meal for the hardworking farmers very seriously. It can lead to a lot of worry over having made enough, making sure there’s protein and other nutrient-dense foods, and hopefully that it tastes good as well! But, as is often the case, situations that are the most challenging turn out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling. Despite the ever-present anxiety of my lunch day I have learned so much in our little hodgepodge intern kitchen. It is in the kitchen, creating dishes out of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables grown on this farm, that the purpose of what this farm does rings the most true: we’re growing food.
Of course I’ve only stated the obvious, but with the busyness of summer rushing by us, and the whirlwind of each day exhausting us by nightfall, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. There is a reason each farm worker gets up before dawn, puts his or her all into every undertaking, and keeps at it until the work gets done. And that reason is your dinner plate. I can’t think of any other job or task that has such a tangible and meaningful purpose. Working on a farm makes one realize that food is more than just a commodity picked up easily at a grocery store, something cheap or expendable. Rather it is something you have devoted great quantities of your energy into and in turn is something that nourishes you and returns your investment fully. There is something soul-satisfying about cooking with vegetables that you have had a hand in seeding, planting, weeding, and harvesting. But fortunately it isn’t necessary to be a farmer to have the same sense of well-being about the food you eat. Planning your diet to include mainly seasonal foods and what is grown near you will inevitably connect you more closely to the cycles of nature and bring you into a community of people striving to turn the tide of our food system. [Read more…]
Full Belly’s Farmers Market stand at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco last weekend.
“Here in California
The fruit hangs heavy on the vine
There is no gold
I thought I’d warn you
And the hills turn brown in the summertime”
So wrote Kate Wolf in the early 1980’s. This song was, and remains, one of my favorite folk songs of all times. Having spent my childhood roaming the green hills of verdant Vermont in the summer, California came as a shock to me upon moving here in my late teens. It was as if winter was summer and summer was winter, in some strange disorienting fashion. In fact, thinking of it in these terms has helped to reorient my California seasonality these many years later. The summer hills here are dry brown, akin to the dead of winter in a January Vermont below-zero season. Things die and are reborn in the spring there; here it is the dry summer that is reborn with the life giving rains in the fall. [Read more…]
The Heirloom Tomato
Many of the tomatoes that we call ‘heirlooms’ today were developed in home gardens in the 19th century. Without refrigerated transport or large-scale farming, tomatoes were grown according to the characteristics of each region, and eaten vine ripened. Although the majority of the tomato varieties grown in the U.S. before the Civil War have long since disappeared, a small number of gardeners in many different regions kept growing the varieties they knew, whether green or orange, bumpy or freckly, pulpy or crisp.
In the1930s and ‘40s, agriculture turned away from this wide array of open-pollinated crops and towards a narrow range of hybrid crops. As this occurred, there was a substantial increase in the scale of farming, the widespread application of synthetic fertilizers, and the growth of agribusiness. The tomato changed radically. The long reign of the uniformly bright red, round tomato had begun. Standard sizes and shapes were easier to distribute, and were considered more attractive on grocery-store shelves. For decades it was nearly impossible to buy an ‘heirloom’ tomato, and gardeners had to search far and wide to find the seeds. [Read more…]
This display was at the California State Fair, which ended its 17-day run last Sunday. Full Belly produce was beautifully displayed with California Grown Flowers inside one of the exhibit halls.
We put an unusual plant, purslane, in our CSA boxes two weeks ago — well the plant itself isn’t unusual, but it’s not one of those things that find its way to your plate all that often, so it was definitely a culinary challenge! We aren’t going to put it in again this year I don’t think, but we got so many fun comments as a result, that I decided to share some of them.
Here’s an example: “There was something in our box not this past Wednesday but the one before, that I have no idea what it is, nor how to prepare/cook it! I looked at the website and was still miffed. It looks like a small shrub that was pulled out of the ground dirt and roots and all and if I was to describe it, it looks a bit like something in the cactus family. It is green…” Another member said, “The purslane, for me, was not a winner. I think it was a bit too on the mature side.” [Read more…]
We had a farm dinner this past Saturday night, hosted here on the farm. There were 50 or more attendees – a wide-ranging assemblage – customers from farmers markets and CSA, or browsers who came upon the farm seeking closer connection to field and food. It was a wonderful dinner produced from Full Belly Farm products – tomatoes, melons, salami and ground bloody butcher cornmeal for the tortillas. My son Amon and his partner Jenna were the chefs and created a savory dinner and very enjoyable evening.
I was seated with Terril and Eva Ellis, our neighbors and friends who, in their 80’s, have lived next door for many years and have filled their lives with treasures found in a lifetime of imagination and creativity and efforts to deepen the beauty and diversity of their farm. Our conversation was about the lessons learned through experience: things to pay attention to, or best avoided. [Read more…]
At Full Belly Farm, there can be weeks at a time during the busy season when our entire community of interns, owners, family members, employees, friends, neighbors, camp counselors, campers and visitors find that the heat, the dust, the weeds, and the sheer number of different things clamoring for attention at the farm can become overwhelming.
We have written in these Beet pages about the Farm’s intentions – we aspire to create a farm that is sustainable, productive and even regenerative – a farm that supports the community around it, not only with nutritious food and nurturing flowers, but with a respectful work environment for employees and a minimum of environmental disruption. In the context of our every day work, those aspirations actually do guide many decisions. [Read more…]
A Midsummer’s Daydream
Fellow herbivores, omnivores and carnivores, I have a few words and thoughts to share. Take heed as you read this letter, because I mean for this Beet to ignite. A charge in my body pulses through me. No other thoughts invoke such a feeling in me. I cannot help that my hands, my mind, and my soul care so much about food! The pulse I have been charged with I feel I must share. Now more than ever the world must eat organic!
Growing up on a farm I was thrown into the mud at a pretty young age. Watching my parents work so hard for what they believed in seemed so crazy to me then. However, not getting my parents full attention as a little tyke opened my awareness to the things I could feel around me. Ever since I was a baby, my hands always reached for the dirt. I fell for it immediately. Most of my childhood pictures would confirm that I even had an appetite for it. Lucky for me the dirt I was holding was healthy, rich and clean. In just a handful of that sweet soil I wasn’t aware of the trillions of bacteria happily living in it. Nor was I aware that the 100 trillion bacteria in my gut were probably the ones telling me to eat it! I believe that there is an evolutionary romance between our gut bacteria and those in the soil. Pesticides and Antibiotics are like the third wheel on this bacterial honeymoon. We don’t need them – in fact, they are destroying our guts! Organic soil systems capture more carbon, use water more efficiently in droughts, and produce healthier disease-resistant crops – and all because it is good, organic dirt. Buying organic is a vote for healthy soils. [Read more…]
The animal program at Full Belly farm is a way for the interns to experience the responsibilities of caring for a diverse group of animals. As an intern, I have learned how to properly care for laying hens, cows, sheep, goats and pigs as an integrated part of an organic vegetable farm. Antonio Cruz is the shepherd here at the farm, and his wealth of knowledge and experience with farm animals makes every day dynamic and challenging.
Antonio has worked at Full Belly for twelve years, eight of which he has worked full time with the animals. He is from Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero in Mexico, where his three daughters, Almadellia, Esmeralda and Sulmarisandi still live. Besides a few months on a vineyard, he has worked at Full Belly since he came to the US to live with his brother in the Capay Valley. Before coming to the US, Antonio worked on a ranch caring for eighty cows. Every morning at 3am, he and two other men would spend the first four hours of their day milking the eighty cows by hand! As a new milker that finds milking one cow by hand challenging, the thought of milking for four hours straight is very impressive! [Read more…]
It was a small, but happy group of open farm day visitors last Saturday. First we visited some of the Full Belly chickens and talked about pastured animals. The chickens were clustered in the shade under mulberry and quince trees, behaving quite chicken-like, which they might not have had a chance to do if they had been living in battery cages.
Next we got on a trailer and were toured around the easy way, behind a tractor, stopping to discuss any interesting sight that we passed. We ended up picking apricots and gorging ourselves on the delicious fruit, but not quite spoiling our appetites for picnic lunch.
Farmers markets have been an important part of the Full Belly economic picture since the farm started way back in 1985. As beginning farmers, Dru and I were informed of a market in Palo Alto that was brand new and looking for growers. In those early days we were looking for access to places that might buy some of the organic crops we were producing.
We had been selling to a local Nugget Market that was bold enough to give our white Silver Queen corn a try. This was a corn that many of the local farmers were planting on the side of their ‘feed corn’ fields in order to have some good sweet corn for their tables at home. The flavor of the corn was far better than anything that was on the market, but white corn was not very common. The reception at the Nugget Store was enthusiastic, not only because George the produce manager, was willing to give the corn a try, but also because flavor and freshness assured us access to crowded supermarkets. We were also selling corn to an organic wholesaler in Los Angeles and to a wildly enthusiastic woman from Berkeley named Alice, who would either drive to the farm herself to pick up the corn and tomatoes we were producing, or send someone from her Chez Panisse kitchen to do so. [Read more…]
Vegetable seasons are sometimes blurry at their beginnings and ends and June is often a month that really makes that point. It can be an awkward month, between spring and summer. The asparagus is all gone but the melons are a ways off. We call it the ‘June doldrums’ when the farmers market table is piled high with a lot of food staples, and we keep telling the customers how ‘sweet’ the onions are, and how ‘creamy’ the potatoes taste when really all they want to eat are nectarines and tomatoes.
The calendar says that Summer season begins on the Solstice, June 21st, and until then the heat of the day will drain the tenderness from spring greens like chard and collards. Finally the heat will build up enough, and we will have to abandon the spring crops and make way for the explosion of summer. At this time of year chefs ask us to add a box of cherry tomatoes to their order, because they know that the cherry tomatoes are around the corner, and they keep hoping that they can scoop all the other chefs by ordering ahead. [Read more…]
I have always been interested in where my food comes from. As a child I loved going to pumpkin patches and you-pick farms. My siblings and I were always excited to have the chance to walk through a pumpkin patch searching for the perfect and biggest one we could find to bring back home. We would also pick the sweetest berries from the blackberry brambles that grow wild all over Nevada County. As a child I was more concerned with getting the darkest berry and the largest pumpkin. That’s still true today, but there is much more to it now.
We have become detached from knowing where our food comes from. There is an expectation that everything we buy in the store is clean and safe. How can we be sure or know for certain? Knowing more about your food can be your own source of food safety and regulation. As consumers we should be regulating the farming practices we like and don’t like by doing what consumers do best, buying. Instead we allow the government and other agencies to regulate and tell us what is safe. [Read more…]