News From the Farm | June 29, 2020

The place to be when the temperature hits 102 degrees  — 

We are looking back on what was a very hot week here at Full Belly, with triple digits every day. (As our friend at Terra Firma Farm said, we were Sweltering in Place!) Looking forward, temperatures are predicted to be in the 90’s for a little while, which will be a big relief.  California has some rules about how to protect farm workers from heat stress with water, shade and mandatory breaks every two hours when the temperature is over 95.  While this (and other measures) can prevent people from getting sick, it is still uncomfortable to be working in the fields in a mask, during super hot weather.  Thank you to all members of our farm crew.

Having blown past the summer solstice, there is really no way to avoid the recognition that we are halfway through 2020. One never knows the future, but the uncertainties have been piling up more urgently than usual this year. Today our power has been out since 2am, the fourth time since March (but who’s counting?) Loss of power was reportedly caused by an accident on our two-lane highway compounded by equipment failure. Our infamous electrical company, PG&E, has been clear that power outages may be more common in future, exacerbated by wildfires and aging infrastructure.

Another source of uncertainty is Covid-19 which is staging an alarming resurgence in Yolo County and around the world. We hope that vulnerable community members continue to take precautions — this is not a time for ANYONE to become complacent.  In Yolo County the new cases are mostly in the younger demographic, but those youngsters can infect others if they aren’t careful.  The coronavirus has done something that Nature often does: it has exposed our vulnerabilities and has taught us that it will be even harder to predict the future than ever.  Heeding Nature’s instruction, here at Full Belly we are trying to caution our crew at every opportunity, that they must not go to any large indoor gatherings and that face masks are mandatory.

The uncertainties always seem to hit vulnerable populations the hardest: The news that food prices have risen in recent months; the heightened Covid deaths and disease in low income communities; the food insecurity sweeping across our nation; the high levels of coronavirus in meatpacking plants and farm worker communities — these are symptoms of structural inequities.  If the human race would only behave more wisely, these inequities could be eliminated.

This farm, I think, has tried to build Nature’s lessons about uncertainty into our DNA.  The diversity of our crops; our belief in building relationships directly with our customers through farmers markets and our CSA program; our vertical integration from planting to harvest to sales to delivery; the multiple generations that are involved as owners— all of these things tend to build resiliency.  But our farm is a model that is hard to replicate.  Certainly without institutional and government support for small-scale, diversified and locally owned agriculture it is especially difficult to replicate. For example, the answer to a failure in the meat-packing industry is not to continue to invest in that failed model, it is to go topsy turvy and invest in locally-owned, smaller-scale operations that believe in their communities and are there for the long haul.

It might not be correct to say that Nature is angry, but natural systems and living organisms have evolved to self-regulate in complex ways that help to maintain the conditions for life on earth.  If humans continue to destabilize that homeostasis all bets will be off — or at least the winning bet will be on continued shocks like the pandemic, climate change, wildfires and droughts.  Let’s not place that bet — it really is up to us.

— Judith Redmond

Some of our members will be happy to know that we have harvested some wheat!  Whole wheat flour will be back soon