PLEASE NOTE: FULL BELLY WILL BE CLOSING DEC. 7 THROUGH JAN. 4, 2015
Good Food Community Fund
With the help of our members, our CSA program has been donating CSA boxes to two wonderful organizations, the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic and Montalvin Manor Elementary School for many years. The way it works is that you can include a box donation when you pay for your boxes, or you can donate your boxes when you go out of town (with 5 days notice). You can also designate funds to go directly to the Good Food Community Fund if you wish. For the first time in many years, our fund is significantly in arrears, so we hope that some of you might consider contributing.
The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic in Oakland is a licensed primary care facility that serves low-income women with cancer. The Clinic provides free therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, massage and Chinese and western herbs. An in-home comfort care program is available for clients with end-stage cancer who are too weak to come to the Clinic. The post-treatment program treats and supports women who have completed their allopathic treatments. For more information about the Clinic, visit their web site at www.charlottemaxwell.org.
Montalvin Manor Elementary School is in San Pablo, in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. At Montalvin, 100% of the students receive a free lunch due to low family income levels. In 2012, the school initiated a wellness policy and has a program that educates the kids about nutrition and eating healthy power foods. The school also helps kids be active at recess and throughout their day. But there are a few obstacles for the families to truly make healthy food choices. One obstacle is transportation. A lot of the families do not have transportation and there are no food stores nearby with healthy food options. Another obstacle is income and the cost of feeding families well.
Every week, Full Belly harvests five boxes for the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic and donations permitting, during the school year, also for Montalvin Manor Elementary School. The generous contributions and volunteer effort of our CSA members make this program possible.
Please consider supporting this program. You can do this by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Your donations go directly to provide food for low-income women suffering from cancer, or to low-income families who might otherwise not have healthy food options. Your donation will make a difference in their lives.
It’s unusual to get these four farm owners together in one place at the same time: left to right, Judith, Andrew, Dru and Paul.
Photo by Paolo Vescia.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and for many that means traveling to family and friends to celebrate our many blessings. Full Belly WILL be delivering CSA boxes the full week of Thanksgiving. If you would like to change your delivery schedule for that week, please let us know 5 days in advance. Thank you!
Special note to our Thursday San Rafael/ Marin Market site, Mill Valley site and San Anselmo site members – CSA box deliveries for Thanksgiving week will be on WEDNESDAY, NOV. 26. All pick up locations and times will be the same, only the day is changed to Wednesday.
Happy Thanksgiving From the Farm!
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.
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).
Please place your order at least five days prior to your intended delivery date.
For those interested in our certified organically raised 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. The lambs are harvested at Superior Farms in Dixon, CA. (Please note this is not a CCOF certified facility and the finished product is not CCOF certified.) 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you are interested.
As we described in our Beet last week (11/3) we are in the midst of a major overhaul of the database that we use to manage our member accounts. If all goes well, it will take us until about mid-November to complete. As we said, please let us know if you notice anything that is incorrect in the records that you see when you pick up your box. One of the byproducts of the move from our old system to the new one is that we may email you your renewal notice twice – our apologies if you do!
Fall. Finally, the farm’s heartbeat has begun its descent back to a resting rate. For the past seven months, the heart of the organism known as Full Belly has been pulsing with growth and energy. Millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables have made their way into thousands of lives, fueling hearts and nourishing bodies. Hopefully some of that food found its way into your mouth this year. Whether it was a sun-kissed peach, a vine-ripened tomato, or a heavenly muskmelon, it is our passion to bring you the beat of the farm with this delicious produce.
I believe that Mother Nature doesn’t get enough credit for the product of her toil. I know that each tree this year pushed its roots further and deeper then they have in a long time. Stretched thin in a time of drought when water was so scarce, our trees found a way to keep their fruit all the way until it was harvested. The oak trees around the farm still managed to produce so many acorns making sure that all the creatures of the valley are well stocked and fattened for the winter. Our plants grew and fruited despite the myriad of challenges pitted against them. This resilience and perseverance of nature is truly inspiring. [Read more…]
For some time, Full Belly has wanted to develop a system for our CSA members that will allow all of you to place your orders and renew your boxes on-line, without the added step of emailing or calling the farm. This is not because we are moving away from our commitment to building relationships with all of you, but more because it is a necessary convenience demanded by the current marketplace.
There are several ‘off-the-shelf’ programs that we could have chosen, but because we want to maintain the flexibility that we currently offer, we decided to build our own program, and the first phase of that effort has been completed. During the next month, we will be electronically moving all of the data from our old system to our new system. This includes many important details and is a little bit complicated. [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
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.)
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 email@example.com.
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…]
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…]
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…]
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!
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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.
Pinto Bean gave birth to a healthy baby boy calf last Friday. He is perfect – complete with a dipped white tail. [Read more…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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.
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…]
July Photo Round Up!
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…]
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…]
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!