News from the Farm | March 20, 2023

Today (Monday) is the first day of Spring. As Carly wrote last week, so far, 2023 has been a year of more cold days, grey skies, freezing nights, wind, hail, snow, and, of course, lots of rain. Just in the last two weeks we’ve had at least seven inches of rain, and we got 1.5 inches between late Monday night and early afternoon Tuesday. Water levels in Cache Creek rose dramatically, a combination of runoff and a water release from the Clear Lake Reservoir, and there was a lot of standing water around the farm, especially on roads and in the furrows between rows (where we drive tractors and walk when weeding/harvesting), really highlighting how differently compacted and uncompacted soils handle water. Within 24 hours, the creek levels had gone down and almost all of the standing water had been absorbed. It was quite a dramatic change! 

Throughout all of the January, February, and March rain, we have been very fortunate, especially compared with the many other farms and communities that have experienced major damage, particularly on the Central Coast. These farms and communities could use your help. CAFF has an emergency fund you can donate to, Kitchen Table Advisors is keeping a list of farms who need support and other organizations you can donate too, and this article about the town of Pajaro has additional resources. 

We’re largely appreciative of all the rain, but even when not facing monumental flooding, the rain is bringing it’s share of complications for us: 

With the cold weather, several of our crops (flowers, asparagus, etc.) are about three weeks behind. Last week’s “Pineapple Express” and warmer weather has already caused noticeable plant growth; the cover crops (shown below) have about doubled in height in the past two weeks.

Almond and stone fruit trees bloom this time of year and are vulnerable to cold, wet weather. Andrew is reporting that so far fruitlets and nutlets are looking fine, despite wet and windy days during bloom and several nights of cold temperatures after that. The wet weather does make us worry about fungus, particularly brown rot. Spring is usually a time for all fruit or nut growers to spray to prevent a long list of future issues. In recent years, we’ve moved away from spraying fungicides to using probiotics to outcompete fungi and other pathogens. It’s too wet right now to get into any orchard to spray anything; large nut and fruit growers in the area might use airplanes, or even helicopters, to spray, but that’s not something we’d consider.

Summer crop transplants are ready in the greenhouse, but there aren’t enough dry days or ready fields. We did get a field of lettuce planted on Saturday but now that it’s rained again, the soil is too wet to have a tractor in the field. Many of our fields aren’t ready for transplanting; they are still planted in cover crops that need to be mowed and incorporated into the soil and it’s too wet for tractors, or for sheep (our other mowers) to start. Some transplants can be trimmed to slow down their growth (onions, parsley, and other plants without a growing tip) and with other plants, we can put them into trays with larger cells, which is what we did with 10,000 plants, mostly tomatoes. Larger transplants means we might not be able to use the same transplanters that we usually do, but that’s preferable to loosing those plants. We probably have to wait about three weeks to really begin transplanting in earnest. 

Lastly, all the rain impacts people. No one enjoys working in the cold and wet, though our on-farm and farmers market teams have been bravely working through less-than-ideal conditions. Some teams have been switching their work (the flower team helping harvest greens and pack CSA boxes, for example) and we’ve been working through the big list of non-field projects. During particularly bad weather, we end the day early, but less hours of work also means smaller paychecks, which is difficult. This time of year is always financially tricky for farms; there isn’t much in the fields to harvest, even when the weather is nice, but it is a time of year with a lot of expenses for the farm, and all employees still have regular life expenses. When the weather is nice enough, we’ll work extra hours (there’s plenty of weeding to catch up on!) and we know the pace will pick up, as soon as it dries out and warms up, which will happen eventually, right?

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager


News from the Farm | March 13, 2023

Hi everyone, this week’s news is coming from Carly, a new Full Belly Intern!

I’ve spent the last two years living in Whitefish, Montana; a town famous for skiing and spectacular mountain views. While there, I worked on two organic veggie farms through cold mornings and hot smoky afternoons. And, although I loved Montana, my partner and I decided we needed more farming than the short summers up North can offer us. We decided to pack up all our stuff and head to California, a place where, in my mind, it’s always warm and the sun always shines. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | March 6, 2023


One of the rooms in my small farmhouse has been hijacked over the past 10 years by the “Flower Team” for storing flower seeds, notebooks, lists, and planning charts – much to the dismay of other members of the household! What used to be the family ping-pong table for rainy day fun is now covered with mountains of seed packets for over 100 different flower varieties from our favorite seed sources (Wild Garden Seed, Johnnys’, Geo Seed, Adaptive Seed, just to name a few). Strange names like echinops and eryngium are printed on top and we’ve added sticky labels and notes to help us stay organized.  What could be construed by some as chaos actually represents years and of years of calculated research and development from the highly organized team of flower growers here at the farm (tongue in cheek, just a little bit!) [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 27, 2023

We’re very used to seeing fluffy white almond blossoms at the end of February, but fluffy white snow is an anomaly. Snow in the Capay Valley is rare, but does happen on occasion, and it’s not uncommon to see snow high in the hills to the west. We can’t remember all the dates, and our Beet archives don’t provide a complete record but we definitely had snow in January 2002, January 2008, and January 2011, and other years too. In fact, the only time we’ve ever cancelled CSA deliveries (over 20 years ago) was due to snow – do any long-time CSA members remember when that was? And now we can add February 23rd and 24th, 2023 to that list! Snow started falling late Thursday night and on Friday morning, we woke up to snow on the ground. We didn’t need to cancel the CSA this time; we were able to get all the CSA boxes, tulips, and non-CSA orders harvested on Friday and then most folks went home early. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 20, 2023

While it’s tempting to have an update solely comprised of adorable lamb photos, we’ve recently gotten questions about a few things that I wanted to address first! [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 13, 2023

On Thursday, I went for a bike ride with the Full Belly bike gang to see what was happening around the farm. What did we see? A lot of pruning happening.  [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 6, 2023

Last week we found ourself facing a classic winter scenario; there was rain in the forecast, though the forecasts kept shifting, and lots of transplanting to do. In addition to lots of weeding. But – we had horribly strong winds early in the week with very cold morning temperatures forecast for later in the week. Wind and cold temperatures aren’t good for vulnerable young transplants. So it meant lots of weeding in the wind early in the week and then an (almost) all hands on deck effort to transplant on Wednesday and Thursday after temperatures warmed up enough.   [Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 30, 2023


What’s the news of the week? Wind, weeding, and waiting. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 23, 2023

At any given time, there are probably five or six interns living and working on the farm. Interns commit to at least a year working here and over the farm’s history there have been at least 300 interns. While here, they do a little bit of everything, and are key members of our farmers market teams. After they leave the farm, it really depends, but some of them do start farms of their own. This past week, I caught up with three former interns to find out what they’re up to. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 16, 2023

We appreciate everyone checking in to see how we’re doing. We’ve gotten a lot of water, 16 inches since January 1, and some strong winds, but we’re doing fine. Our crew was able to get to and from work without incident and we finished up early each day to get everyone home where they could take off their rain gear and boots and dry out and warm up. Shorter days does mean less pay, but that’s better than no work, as was the case at some other farms. The delivery drivers were able to safely navigate the roads and drop off produce and CSA orders, and our three farmers market teams had safe, successful, though not dry, days. There are some very soggy areas of the farm, and little rivers and waterfalls all around the Capay Valley that normally aren’t there, but no damage here. There were many flooded roads in Yolo County and some temporary closures on Highway 16, and plenty of people taking advantage of the sandbag supplies at the local fire stations. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 9, 2023

It seems like just yesterday we were wrapping up the 2022 season. Yet almost a month has passed and here we are, back from our winter break. Everyone took some time off, an opportunity to shake up our normal routines and get off the farm. Hopefully we’re all well-rested and ready to dive into another year of farming and all the other tasks required to make the “magic” happen. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | December 5, 2022

The annual all-farm photo of the year-round crew, minus a few folks, with our new sweatshirts

The cold November has rolled into an early wet December. We are grateful for both and have been reveling in the rain – what a gift! Even though it means this week, as we wrap up the 2022 CSA, farmers markets, and produce sales, we will be slogging crops out of wet fields. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 28, 2022

Grandpa Joe hands out fresh milk to a happy customer at Story Road Drive-in Dairy

Good day to you all,

A warm north wind flowed down through the valley this Thanksgiving. As a river flows between its banks, the wind wandered between mountain ranges that cradle the land we care for. Trees now shimmer orange and undo their summer leaves, helped by the wind’s gentle fingers. An early frost painted the valley with the most spectacular fall colors I can remember. Deep amber, burnt orange, sweet reds and yellows all aglow. A serene exhale. A wave, goodbye for now, and in a mere blink of an eye, the whole landscape seems to be drifting off under winter’s spell. Early rains, of whose moisture ran deep into the soil, now bear their gift: a green glimmer beneath the gray foothills and pastures. Those rains washed away the dust and whispered songs of hope to all farms across the West. As we long for more, we must give thanks for the opening remarks they’ve given on behalf of this rainy season. It wasn’t just the dust they washed away, but the urgency of summer. Immediately following the first rain and cold of the year, there is a palpable heave felt for miles. A pressure valve released. We have time! Time to release our own leaves; successes, failures, milestones…memories. Winter’s gift to us farmers is this time, and the patience to digest and put to rest all of the leaves. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving marks the home stretch for us – after this week, there are two more weeks before our winter break.

Every culture seems to have a harvest holiday like Thanksgiving, a time to sit down with friends and family and appreciate the land’s bounty. Not all are as complicated as ours though; the Thanksgiving story is based on a lot of myths and lies about American history. It is possible to observe Thanksgiving while acknowledging the long history of colonization, exploitation, and erasure, and the continued struggles and triumphs of Native people. One place to start is learning about the real history and your area’s Indigenous peoples and languages. And there are many other resources and ideas out there, including supporting Native organizations and movements.

One thing I’ve incorporated into my Thanksgiving is thinking about who and what I’m thankful for. It’s a long list, including all of the people who grow, harvest, and process the food that I eat- those that I know, and those who I don’t. At least when it comes to my job, the CSA, there’re some people who really stand out. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 14, 2022

I’m never going to claim that our fall colors are anything like the Northeast, Colorado, or some of the other famous fall foliage areas, but we do have some nice colors this time of year. The peach trees have turned a yellow/orange color that seems to glow near sunset, the pomegranate trees have turned yellow, and there are some stunning red Chinese pistache trees around the farm. I didn’t get a good picture but you can view photos here or here. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 7, 2022

What’s Andrew holding in this picture? It’s not trail mix – it’s cover crop seed!

This past week, planting cover crops was a high priority. It’s a normal fall activity, but when there’s rain in the forecast, it takes on an increased sense of urgency; if we get a significant amount of rain, we won’t be able to get into the fields with a tractor for a while, and we also want the seeds to get as much irrigation from rain as they can. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | October 31, 2022

Wow – it’s already the end of October! Time is flying. The days are getting shorter and it’s getting a little chilly, at least in the mornings; it was in the low forties a few mornings last week. It’s still been warming up to the 70s during the day, but that won’t last for long.
Friday was one of those days that started off cool. It also was our olive harvest day! Almost everyone headed out in two teams to rake, pull, and whack all of the olives (green and black) off the trees and they warmed up fast. It’s a big effort and requires a lot of people. There’s a reason that many farms use machines to do this work! [Read more…]

News from the Farm | October 24, 2022

What are some of the happenings, sights, and sounds from the past week or so?

[Read more…]

News from the Farm | October 17, 2022

It is remarkable to see just how fast the fall crops are growing. Just check out the difference between September 15 and October 15, documented in the photos below. It seems like a new fall crop, root or leafy green, is added to the harvest list each day. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | October 10, 2022

The past week, the first full week of October, the transition from summer to fall was on full display. [Read more…]