News From the Farm | July 20, 2020

Bonifacio with melons & basil  —  

Full Belly has sold our produce to dozens of restaurants over the years, sometimes over a span of decades, and we’ve learned a lot about cuisine and community through those relationships. It was at one of those restaurants that I lunched with my father and mother many weeks in a row, after I had finished a farmers market and my father had finished chemotherapy treatments nearby.  Many of the restauranteurs have supported community events in the Capay Valley year after year.  I have a wonderful memory of a radiant Judy Rodgers (then the chef at Zuni Café) making an enormous bowl of her famous bread salad at our “Day in the Country” fundraiser for the Yolo County Land Trust many years ago. Special occasions and visits with friends — the restaurants are full of memories.  They are places to have a good meal and so much more.

When indoor dining had to shut down, a lot of people were put out of work — in fact probably 11% of California’s workforce.  And after a short experiment in opening up, the doors have closed again. This second closing must be doubly frustrating for some of the businesses that were right in the middle of figuring out how to open up safely. Our hearts go out to restaurant employees, chefs and owners because we know that for some of these restaurants, the shut down may not be temporary — many of them are worried that they might have to close for good.

In response to the shutdown, some of the restaurants that buy from Full Belly have created new menus and procedures for take-out. Others have stepped up to feed vulnerable populations in their communities through innovative programs that use federal funding and create teams out of chefs and non profits to prepare and deliver food for at-risk communities.  Because the restaurant industry is incredibly resourceful and innovative it is tempting to imagine that a renaissance of dining and community may be in the works — something new that we haven’t even imagined yet, may emerge on the other side of this Coronavirus disaster.  For now, we just wanted to shine a light on the plight of the restaurants given the new shelter in place order.

I took a few photos of goings on around the farm, finding people working everywhere — Andrew and Heather (above) bunching sunflowers in a nook surrounded by bins, boxes and pallets; Bonifacio driving into the yard with bins of canary melons topped by basil fresh from the field; and below a crew picking eggplant and loading it onto a tractor.  The days are full and harvest is the name of the game around here in mid July.

Many blessings on your meals.

— Judith Redmond

Mayze Fowler-Riggs of the State Organic Program came to the farm last week to pick a sample of our produce for testing