News From the Farm | July 13, 2020

Francisco Zavala Medina, Full Belly mechanic — 

All of us, including bona fide analysts and researcher types are trying to figure out what our lives and the world will look like on the other side of the pandemic.  An interesting report from CoBank predicts that “economic recovery may now favor rural communities for the first time in many years.”  Rural areas were slower than urban to recover from the last recession but that may not be true in the case of the pandemic.  For one thing, rural areas are less densely populated, which could be “vital for economic resilience in the face of COVID-19.”   In addition, the job loss has not been as severe in rural counties.

At Full Belly, our thoughts are still focused primarily on the safety of the people working at the farm day in and out.  Many of our crew members drive to work in carpool groups and live with extended families.  While most of us are working outside, which hopefully can help to reduce the spread, we are a fairly tight-knit group and frankly, it is close to impossible to enforce social distancing 100% of the time (not everyone has a car!)  Farm workers are surely at risk — for example, in Monterey County, they account for nearly 36% of all Covid cases.  This great article about the work to protect farm workers in Monterey County is an uplifting example of collaboration between disparate stakeholders.

I spoke recently with someone who was administering Covid tests and he described some impacts related to the current surge in cases.  He said that the laboratory providing test kits had started to ration the kits and that results were taking up to 12 days to come back, rather than 3 days. He said that there are many asymptomatic carriers, so contact testing and tracing is really critical.  While people living in Yolo County without symptoms are still being told to go into quarantine and not being given tests (even if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive), there have been several opportunities for mass testing that pop up every once in awhile.

Our crew has been very responsible — if they have any symptoms they let us know and then stay home. They wear masks when they are around others, and generally they understand that Covid is not something to be complacent about.  Full Belly has a group of employees that work here year-round, but in the spring we add a lot of additional people very quickly.  Usually the seasonal employees are folks that we have known from years past, but this year many of those folks were unable to get here so we have hired a lot of people that are new to the farm.  I asked one of our newer employees, Francisco Zavala Medina, where he gets his information about Covid.  It turned out that he has several relatives who are nurses working in hospitals, so he is getting most of his information from them.  He said that he doesn’t believe much of what he reads in newspapers, or hears on the radio and reports that a lot of people are scared to go to the doctor, even if they have symptoms of Covid.

Francisco is originally from a small town in the state of Guanajuato in the center of Mexico.  He first came to the US to visit his grandmother in Texas, and returned years later to work on farms in Nevada and California.  He learned mechanical skills in Mexico when he was drilling wells.  He said that he needed to know how to weld and maintain the diesel engines himself because he was working in rural areas, far from the city.  His most recent job was with a restaurant chain in the Bay Area, fixing the kitchen appliances and doing electrical work. There is a lot of equipment at Full Belly that he hasn’t seen before, but he said that his motto is “I haven’t done it, but I’m going to do it!”  He is clearly enjoying his work here.

Despite the rampaging virus, the Full Belly crops have been beautiful and delicious.  These are things that we get to enjoy every single day.   Many blessings on your meals!

— Judith Redmond

Samples from today’s box by Maria Grazia, CSA member