News From the Farm | July 4, 2016

The peak of summer is almost here! It was super-hot all of last week, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day, and we had so many cherry tomatoes, melons, green beans, and sunflowers, to pick…  So last week I spent a lot of time bunching sunflowers, picking cherry tomatoes and truck loading. In terms of truck loading, during the summer we struggle to get everything into our trucks. The pallets of tomatoes and melons are very tall and heavy so it’s hard to move them and our beautiful flowers take lots of space because we can’t stack them. Needless to say, working all day under the crazy hot sun is very hard.  However, after work, you can find the best melon ever, which encourages us to go to the next day.

This kind of summer work reminds me of my first summer at Full Belly Farm. I arrived here end of May, 2015 and started working as one of the interns. I’m Shohei Shimizu, from Aichi Prefecture in Japan. I’m still a student of Hokkaido University because I took 2 years off after I finished sophomore year. At that university, I studied Agricultural Economics. When I was looking for some interesting books in the library to kill time before the next class, I happened to find a book about CSA. That’s why I’m here, in Guinda California.


Ingrid, Shohei and Mari ready for another day on the Farm.

Through the year, I have had great experiences. Because I have not worked on farms before, except for 2 weeks on tomato farms in Japan, every single day I learned something new. Of course, I enjoyed working in the field planting, weeding, and harvesting veggies, fruits and flowers. Also I worked a lot in the greenhouse between winter and early summer. Sometimes I helped doing animal chores. Almost every week I have been to farmers markets. It is so cool to meet people who are glad to support our farm, and to talk with them. 

As I mentioned, one of my purposes in coming here was to learn about the CSA system. The CSA of Full Belly is more amazing than I had imagined. Members get fresh veggies and info from the farm. I think the greatest benefit of the CSA is the relationships. When I was in my country, I didn’t feel close to farmers in my daily life. Coming here, I was surprised to discover that there are lots of ways that members can visit, like the Hoes Down, farm tours, summer camp, farmers markets, and so on. These things are really good for me to know. 

In addition to these experiences, working in a foreign country itself is impressive for me. In Japan, there are very few people who don’t speak Japanese, so it is hard to find a place you can speak other languages. However, as you know, you can hear two languages on the farm: English and Spanish. Here, I’m surrounded by people who don’t understand my first language. To make matters worse, my English was terrible when I got here, and about Spanish I barely knew a few greetings, so we had a hard time at first communicating with each other. One day my brain was too confused to understand when someone on the crew said “Good morning”! I expected Spanish words. I didn’t understand until she said it three times to me. But after tons of misunderstandings, I learned how to communicate with my second or third language, which is one of the biggest steps forward for me.

I have only two weeks left on this farm. Without help, I couldn’t have come and worked here, so I appreciate everyone related to Full Belly Farm. I’m worried about whether I will get to see all of the varieties of melons or not, but anyway I‘d like to enjoy the rest of these crazy hot days.

–Shohei Shimizu, Full Belly Intern