News from the Farm | March 27, 2023

March is Women’s History Month, in addition to being the month when National Ag Week (March 21-27), National Ag Day (March 23), and International Women’s Day (March 8) are observed. Every day is an excellent opportunity to recognize and celebrate the countless women working on farms and ranches to provide food (plus flowers, fuel, fiber, and countless ecosystem services) to our communities. 

On a national level, according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, women accounted for 36% of the country’s 3.4 million producers, 56% of all farms had a female producer, and 9% of farms were run entirely by women. In California, 37% of producers are women with 32.5% of agricultural operations reporting a woman as a primary producer, and about 1/3 of farmerworkers are women. 

While these numbers have changed over time (especially since 2017 when the USDA changed how they count female producers, which resulted in a large increase), agriculture is still a male-dominated industry, which has wide-ranging implications, from implementation of conservation practices to sexual harassment of farmworkers. There isn’t enough room in the Beet to go over all of these issues, but they’re important, and if you’re interested in exploring more, there are lots of resources out there, including great work from The American Farmland Trust’s Women for the Land Program (including this document on California), the  Women Food and Agriculture Network, and groups like Lideres Campesinas, just to name a few.

Women have played a key role in running Full Belly Farm since day one, and that proud tradition continues through today. Currently, our farm is 50% female (though not in every role – our office crew and flower team are female, and we don’t have female tractor drivers and irrigators), and women hold many leadership positions. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of farming experience, and they are truly a group of inspiring, kind, caring, and funny people who are great to work with. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are a few of the women of Full Belly Farm! 

From left to right: Francisca (she runs our wash and pack area and supervises flour milling and other dry goods and value-added products), Judith (owner-emeritus, still helps out with special projects), Yesenia (leads the kitchen crew).

Isabel: leads the flower team

Chica: she is in charge of seeding and watering all the greenhouse starts. Almost every summer tomato you enjoy is due to her hard work!

Joaquina: leads the CSA line each day and runs the other half of the wash and pack area (melons, squash, broccoli, roots)

 Dru (one of our six owners) and Jan (our farm manager) – they both do a little bit of everything.

There are so many more amazing people who I didn’t get a photo of: Stephanie (HR), Paola (sales), Catalina (leads the daily truck loading process), Becca (in charge of animals and our egg program), Hannah (floral design and social media), plus many other inspiring women who have been at Full Belly Farm at some other point in our 40-year history. Thanks to all of these women for making Full Belly the special place that it is.

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager

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!  [Read more…]

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…]