News From the Farm | July 17, 2017

This past spring I had the honor of taking a UC Berkeley design thinking class called Eat.Think.Design! To a degree I’d never imagined, it was intimate, hands-on, edgily interdisciplinary, upended established ways of thinking, an intentional community, out to better the world through food.  I got my first choice project team – Fair Labor Produce: working through empathy, interviews, research, prototyping, and play to increase transparency around labor conditions for farm workers in the Salinas region.  Judith was a great resource.

A few weeks before the big Innovation Feast, where we presented our projects to a diverse audience, came the best class of all. Homework: Bring a food to share with the class that is meaningful to you, and come tell what it means.  This most basic of human experience – sharing who we are, through food.  A crockpot, a toaster oven, chaat made of fish parts, mangos five ways, stories about falling in love, stories about finding out who we are, stories about food aboard a submarine, stories about a home far away.  The community that we had become grew twice as deep that night.

My story went something like this…  “Roughly 25 years ago I read an article in the paper about an innovative food distribution system: Community Supported Agriculture, and right away signed up on the wait list for Full Belly Farm.  This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  Part of Full Belly’s mission is to connect farmers and consumers, and it is really because of their education that I was aware of labor conditions in agriculture, leading directly to my interest in team Fair Labor Produce.  

Through the years I’ve had a long and rich connection with the farm. I volunteered managing their wait list, worked on farm days, attended festivals and classes, ate box after box.  This Full Belly relationship has seen me from one boyfriend, in and out of a marriage to someone else, the birth and growing of my kids who attended camp there, and remains a vital part of my eating and cooking through years of weeks.  For you tonight I have brought the very best carrots in the world.  If you haven’t had a real carrot lately, you must try one. They will rock your world!”

My offering to the table of shared memories was a tray of freshly peeled and cut carrots, with one muddy carrot for garnish, a Full Belly twist-tie loose around the greens.  My kids chided me “You WOULD be the one person who brought vegetables!” and it is true, I was the only one.  But they were so sweet, so crunchy, so juicy, they vanished quickly and all I had left was the whole carrot garnish, and a warm belly of memories from all the stories I had tasted.

—Charis Baz Takaro, CSA member