News From the Farm | June 22, 2020

Ben driving out to the field to harvest the last planting of cabbage. –

Voices from the Fields –

No one knows this farm better than our crew members.  Passionate farmers who spend their years tending Full Belly fields – every decision they make creates the high standard produce you find in your CSA box, farmers market, and local grocery store.  I’m constantly inspired when I see the way Isobel, for example, who is the leader of the flower crew, picks every flower with such intention and care.  It’s not just me who sees this, but others are inspired by our crew as well – including their own kids.

I first met Ben Hernandez this spring as I was interviewing new camp counselors for our summer camp program.  Everyone on the farm raved about him, “Oh, everyone loves Ben,” “Wait, you’re going to hire Ben? But I want him to work with me!”  I understood the stories immediately when we got together for his interview one day after work.  At the time, he was a senior at Esparto High School, finishing up his last month of classes.  I asked him what his plans were since school was nearly done. “I want to be a teacher.  I want to be an Ag Teacher,” he told me.

“Really? What drew you to that profession?”

“Well, my mom and dad taught me everything I know about organic farming.  I think they’re so smart, and they would talk to me a lot about the importance of taking care of the soil.  I just think what they’re doing is so cool, so I want to teach other kids about that too.”

Ben’s Mom and Dad, Ana and Ricardo have both been working at Full Belly Farm for over a decade.  Ben started working summers here after his freshman year of high school.  Everyone knows him and adores him.  He almost glides around the farm from friend to friend, easily assisting in anything he can.  He says his time here has taught him more than just organic farming, “Being in the field teaches you how to be a hard worker – how you can push through anything.”

This is the crew that Ben has been working with.  Celso, the crew leader is standing to the left of Ben on the right side of the photo. Ben’s mom, Ana is 4th from the left.

Ben also told me all about his own Ag Teacher, Miss Charter, who helped to make learning fun for him at Esparto High School.  He hopes he can be just like her.

When Ben is not at the farm, he loves to play soccer with his friends.  He played for the Esparto High School team, and explained to me how that team helped to teach him team-building skills – working together for a greater cause.

Because of State and County restrictions around group gatherings, the farm was unable to host our annual summer camp program this year.  So Ben is back to working wherever he can at the farm. It’s possible that the summer squash or cherry tomatoes in your CSA box were picked by him.  He’ll be starting at Butte College in the fall, with intentions to transfer to Chico State. “My senior counselor told me they have a great Ag Program…and teaching program too.”  We’re all so proud of him, and know that he will continue his excitement for organic farming by getting to share that knowledge and passion with the next generation.  

Sierra Reading, Education Director

Maria bringing in Statice from the field.