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. 

First, there is the traditional pruning – the fruit team has been working their way through the many blocks of fruit trees, removing a significant number of branches. See the before and after. The trees aren’t flowering yet, but it’s only a matter of time as most of the trees have buds. The almond trees are close to blooming too. You can see bee hives at the borders of all the almond orchards around the Capay Valley and Yolo County and we’ll be awash in pink blossoms soon. You can join us for the Almond Festival on the 26th and see them for yourself!

There’s a very old stand of almond trees where Road 43 meets Highway 16 that has undergone some major, and permanent, pruning, over the past few weeks. It’s not exactly pruning; we’re removing the orchard and have cut down the trees.

Those trees were over 70 years old, long past yielding a profitable harvest and while the orchard was serving as a pasture area and the trees were providing shade to the animals grazing there, it no longer made sense to keep it as an orchard. So we’re removing the trees and that space will be used for row crops in the future. Not immediately though; first we need to remove the trees and prepare the soil, and we’ll also be putting a hedgerow around this field. It’s a big change, but is not quite as dramatic as many of the large walnut orchard removals happening around Yolo County right now. Some of those orchards are being taken out because the trees are old and have reached the end of their productive lives, like our situation. However the majority are being removed for economic reasons; the price of walnuts has been really low the past few years (more info here and here) making orchards unprofitable and even young orchards are being taken out. 

We also saw the sheep “pruning” the cover crops! Last year’s lambs (the “niños”) have begun chomping on the cover crop on one of last year’s tomato fields. They do fast work!

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager