News From the Farm | October 30, 2017

After a decade of dedicated planning, community organizing and fundraising, the Capay Valley is looking forward to construction of a Park and Aquatic Center in Esparto, the small town at the mouth of the Valley. A multitude of individuals and organizations donated countless hours to secure funding from various agencies so that the Capay Valley will soon be home to a swimming pool, soccer field and baseball/softball field.Esparto’s school district serves the entire Valley — Kids take buses to school from up the Capay Valley, including locations more than 20 miles away. Esparto is also the site of the hardware store, Library and Dollar General. Although just 5 square miles in size and only a few more than 3,000 inhabitants, the vibrancy of Esparto can become emblematic of the future of the Valley as a whole. When the gas station closed and the bank branch left, it was a blow since those were the only gas station and bank around.

Even though the dream of a public swimming pool and park are close to becoming a reality, there are still a few hurdles to overcome. Although construction funds for the park have been committed, Yolo County still requires the community to raise money for an endowment that will fund the costs of continued maintenance and operations. Full Belly Farm hosted a community dinner on Sunday 10/29, the 17th Annual Taste of Capay dinner and auction, to celebrate the success so far, and to raise funds for the future. At the dinner, Diego Ochoa, Superintendent of Schools for the Esparto Unified School District said, “This park is going to have a daily impact on the lives of Esparto kids. Right now, there isn’t one basketball hoop in the town of Esparto. When this Park is built, our kids are going to have a place to play. We want our kids to be healthy.”

Like other small rural communities in the US, the Capay Valley has to work hard and stand up for itself, in order to provide amenities for residents, things that people living in more urban settings sometimes take for granted. It was rewarding and inspiring for Full Belly Farm to be able to host people from up and down the Valley, all proud to be part of the common effort.

Volunteers from the Esparto High School work with Full Belly staff to prepare plates of salad for the guests. The salad included fennel, persimmons, pomegranates and lettuce.