News from the Farm | June 27, 2022

What’s the news from the last week (or so)?

Tomato staking and tying continues, lead by Alfredo and his small but mighty crew. They grab a roll of twine, tie it to the first post at the end of a row, and then walk the row, wrapping the twine around each post. After getting to the end of a row, they go back down the row in the other direction doing the same thing. The goal is to sandwich plants between two pieces of twine for support and easier picking. Most tomatoes get tied with five layers of twine, about every foot or so, but some short varieties get two. All told, we’ll use almost 200 miles of twine this year! That’s a lot of twine, and a lot of walking and hard work to get it set up. When I shared my calculations with Alfredo and commented on how much work tomatoes are, his response was that he really enjoys tying tomatoes and finds it to be rewarding work and enjoys seeing the neat rows of tomatoes and knowing his role in making them easier to harvest.

We have started harvesting tomatoes from the first planting and other summer crops are rolling in too. I’ve heard rumors that we might harvest our first melons this week, and we’ve started harvesting our first planting of corn! Check out this neat photo that Andrew took; notice all the pollen on the bee’s hind legs. While corn can be a source of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators like bees, corn is wind-pollinated and doesn’t require physical pollination.

We’ve started harvesting some of our grain too, but aren’t finished yet. Unfortunately the combine needs some repairs before it’s ready to go again. While we harvest most of our crops by hand, there’s no way we’d do that for our over 30 acres of wheat, triticale, and barley. So it’ll be a little bit more before it’s all harvested, cleaned, and ready to be sold.

It’s been hot. One thing that the heat is good for, in addition to tasty tomatoes, is drying flowers, which we do a lot of, in addition to all the fresh bouquets during the summer. Right now the wreath room and our greenhouse are full of drying flowers.

We’ve also been harvesting and sending out a lot of potatoes, garlic, and cabbage. Harvesting those crops and getting them out of the field is just the first part of the work. Then our wash and pack crew at the shop has to wash (potatoes) and clean (cabbage and garlic), size and sort, and then pack. It’s a lot of (repetitive) work, so a big thanks to the many hands involved in that effort.

And anyone driving to the farm last week would’ve passed a large pile of crushed walnut shells at the farm entrance. It’ll be gone soon though. We’ll spread it on as many roads as possible to keep dust down. During the summer, wind and cars stir up a lot of dust, spreading tiny mites that harm our crops. We want to keep that to a minimum and the walnut shells really help.

That’s the news from the farm!

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager

News from the Farm | June 20, 2022

Full Belly Farm is a special place for many reasons, and high up on that list is the people. Since almost the very beginning of the farm, interns have played a key role in the farm community. This week, I sat down with two interns, Yasuaki Saito (left, in both photos) and Kosuke Kato (right) to learn about their background and their experience at Full Belly Farm. They both arrived last September as part of the Japanese Agriculture Exchange Program, a program that Full Belly has had a relationship with for many years. The program starts with two months in Washington State taking English classes, then 13 months working at a farm (mostly on the West Coast), and then concludes with two months at UC Davis. They’ve done a little bit of everything (including filling in for a home delivery route) and are great members of the team. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | June 13, 2022

When most people think of summer crops, often the ones that come to mind are tomatoes, eggplant, and melons, but a key crop that often goes forgotten is sunflowers. We grow a lot of sunflowers and it’s not just us; they’re the sixth most valuable crop in Yolo County, grown on over 20,000 acres. Driving around the County right now, you’ll see countless fields of sunflowers all in bloom. Almost all of those fields of sunflowers aren’t harvested fresh; they are grown to be hybrid seed stock that will be sent around the world to be planted for oil. Unlike the fields for seed, our sunflowers are for cut flowers, for folks like you to bring into your home! Last year we harvested over 15,000 bunches of sunflower from May through October, with many more heads going into mixed bouquets. They’re a significant summer crop for us, thus worthy of a deep dive in the Beet. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | June 6, 2022

 

 

It’s June and there are several signs that summer is approaching: [Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 30, 2022

This week’s News from the Farm is from guest writer Dave Runsten, Senior Policy Analyst, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). Dave and CAFF are long-time friends of Full Belly and advocates for farms like ours in Washington and Sacramento. We appreciate the great work that they do on our behalf and hope that you’ll support them (and us) by participating in their campaign. The images are some examples of the great artwork that recent farm guests with the Art & Ag Project from Yolo Arts shared with us. The top watercolor is from Johanna Pack and the bottom from is from Elly Gould.

The Drought and Small Farmers: #Don’t Let Small Farms Dry Up!

Like Full Belly Farm, there are many small farms in California that produce food for local communities. These are the thousands of farms at farmers’ markets, running CSAs and farm stands, and selling to restaurants. This group includes most beginning farmers, immigrant farmers, and farms run by people of color. Most of these farms are dependent on groundwater for food safety or because they are located outside irrigation districts. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 23, 2022

Among all the good things that happened last week, as well as the mundane, and some “milestones” (on Wednesday we had our first 99 degree day), we also had two power outages. The one Tuesday was relatively brief, just a few hours in the morning, while the one on Thursday started in early afternoon and we didn’t get power back until 11am on Friday. Neither were Public Safety Power Shutoffs; both were caused by cars colliding with power poles at the entrance to the Capay Valley, cutting off electricity to the entire Valley. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 16, 2022

It’s time for a tomato update! [Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 9, 2022

Hi Full Belly Family,

My name is Alexa and I’m a part of the current crop of interns at the farm. I am writing to you on a week that feels oddly ceremonious for me; one year ago, I laced up my boots, put on a new pair of Carhartt pants, and started my first official farm internship at a small organic farm outside of D.C. After 5 years spent working in the healthcare and software industry in Chicago, I had decided I wanted something different for myself. While the decision about what exactly I wanted didn’t come quick or easy, you could say that peppers are the reason I decided to take a leap of faith to leave one life and start another. Let me explain…

[Read more…]

News from the Farm | May 2, 2022

This past week our sheep got their annual shearing. Midday on Thursday I headed up to the sheep barn to survey the scene. Rye graciously answered my (many) questions while ably shearing our flock and I’m condensing and passing along that information here. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 25, 2022

The old saying goes “April showers brings May flowers.” We did get some rain in April: half an inch on Saturday the 16th and then some scattered trace amounts last week, despite some very dramatic skies that suggested the potential for more. Given our Mediterranean climate, we likely won’t get more until fall and we’ll be using our irrigation system to get flowers for May, and through the summer till it rains again. But given how little we got during this year’s rainy season, we’ll take what we can get. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 18, 2022

This week’s Easter celebration involved Sunday brunch and farm walks, then an afternoon family dinner featuring my 97-year-old father, Joe Muller (in the picture above) and lots of stories of life in Switzerland in the 1930’s and 40’s, and of the journey to the states after the war to a life of farming in a wildly open and abundant California.

Ask him a question and the memories and stories are clearly recalled: walking cows into the Alps from his home in Altdorf, a journey of more than 20 miles made each spring when snow cleared and the grass turned verdant and lush, his first potato crop as a teenager, and great tales of the mischievous pranks that he and his brothers were well known for in their small Swiss town. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 11, 2022

A farmer, regardless of what they grow, wears many hats: agronomist, soil scientist, hydrologist, entomologist, pathologist, meteorologist, mechanic, salesperson, driver, regulatory specialist, and more, in addition to participating in agriculture-related advocacy and social groups. Plus being a parent, spouse, sibling, and friend, and roles in religious institutions, political groups, sports teams, and community groups, time for hobbies, and some have off-farm jobs. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 4, 2022

Cache Creek – photo credit Ben Lindheim

Now that it’s April, we can officially say that we didn’t have a “Miracle March” to provide the precipitation that we needed after the historically dry January and February. We got about half an inch on Monday, which is certainly better than nothing. It was refreshing and was enough to pause some of our tractor work for a few days, but by the end of the week, the farm was once again humming with the sound of tractors – transplanting, mowing, cultivating, prepping beds. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | March 28, 2022

It’s Monday morning and it’s raining! Not the “Miracle March” that we would’ve liked, but some rain is better than none. With all the dry weather, we’ve been able to get a lot of transplants in the ground. By the end of the workday on Saturday, our first field of tomatoes was planted, as well as our first summer squash! All the planting requires bed preparation, which means a flurry of tractor activities: mowing the cover crops, some tillage, adding compost, and then forming and shaping the beds to form a nice surface for seeds or transplants. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | March 22, 2022

There is no shortage of ways to tell that it’s spring on a farm, but my favorite is probably when we start harvesting asparagus. It’s delicious, here for a relatively short period of time, is the only perennial vegetable we grow, and is fascinating for more reasons than that, thus worth taking a deep dive. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | March 14, 2022

Last week we got a box in the mail with a bright green “LIVE ANIMALS” sticker on the side.

And what was inside this box? Beneficial insects to help us combat aphids! In this box, we had lacewings and Aphidius colemani, aphid predators and aphid parasites, respectively. Unfortunately, during certain times of the year, and especially on certain vegetables and flowers, aphids become a problem. We don’t want aphids on our plants at any point in time (they can damage or kill young plants, they can spread viruses between established plants, and our consumers won’t want aphids on their produce) but they’re inevitable. The best strategy for reducing damage from aphids is to grow strong, healthy, resilient plants, but even when we do this, the spring-like weather we’ve had recently is perfect for an explosion of aphids and demands further action. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | March 7, 2022

As we tucked flowers and seeds into the ground in the fall of 2019, we had no inkling of what was in store for us in 2020. We had planned and planted, as many farmers do, with wishful thoughts of selling out at Farmers Markets, growing our flower CSA, and continuing our long relationships with stores and wholesalers in California. I had close to 20 weddings lined up for 2020 that I was preparing for as well, each requiring many consultations with couples, phone calls, vision boards, and countless emails. As all of our flowers began to bloom in March, the first lockdown began. Within a week, all but two of my weddings were canceled for the year. Farmers Markets shut down then reopened with strict protocols around social distancing and rules about customers not handling produce. Stores and restaurants closed and wholesalers were nervous buyers, especially in the case of flowers. As far as they could tell, flowers were an unessential item and the likelihood that customers would buy flowers in the midst of a pandemic seemed low. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 28, 2022

What has been going on for the last week or so?

[Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 21, 2022

Farming can be difficult, in addition to awe-inspiring and rewarding. Last week was pretty tame but we still dealt with fierce north winds, equipment issues, pest pressure, COVID-19, a delivery truck with a flat tire, and internet and email issues, just to name a few things. Worry about the short-term and long-term implications of the drought and climate change are never far off. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 14, 2022

Oakley, Becca, Roxy, and Waylon, photobombed by a sheep

Hey there Beetniks,

It’s been quite a while since I wrote to you last. [Read more…]