News From the Farm | March 23, 2015

When I arrived at Full Belly back in the heat of July, the farm was well into its tomato season. As a wide-eyed city dweller with zero previous farm experience, coming on as an intern at the height of tomato season was a whirlwind introduction to how hard every person here works to create the beautiful produce that we see in our CSA boxes every week. My very first hours of work on the farm were spent harvesting Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. Several hours after that I was folding tomato boxes for packing and distribution. A few weeks later I was learning the names of forty plus varieties of heirloom and cherry tomatoes so I could help identify them for customers at the Marin farmer’s market. By the end of the summer, we were squeezing buckets worth of tomato seeds to be saved for the very plants that we now see in our fields!

Over the last few months, it has been incredible to watch those seeds become over 45,000 plants in our greenhouses.  And in the past week, we have steadily been transplanting ALL of those tomatoes in preparation for another summer season! Time flies when you’re having fun farming! One of the most delightful moments that we as interns have in our yearlong internship is witnessing the full circle of farm life, like these new tomato plants. Can’t wait for caprese salad again!

Ellen and Kaz 2

Two Full Belly interns, Ellen and Kaz, working in our young tomato field which they are covering as a protection from frosts and freezes.

My name is Ellen Knight, and I am one of four interns at the farm. I have been working here for almost nine months, and have truly been inspired by the incredible model that is Full Belly Farm.  The opportunities to learn are endless here, which makes every day dynamic and exciting. I have seen cover crops grow and then turned into the soil, beds prepared, plants seeded and transplanted. I’ve seen sheep, cows, and chickens as an integrated part of the farming system, moving around the farm eating up fields of cover crop or old crops, and fertilizing the soil in return. I’ve watched lambs and calves being born. I got to seed, weed, harvest, pack and load vegetables. While doing all these things, I’ve begun to learn Spanish from the incredible Full Belly crew.

Not only are they a model for sustainable agriculture here, but also for a sustainable life. As an intern, while I am feeding the chickens, milking the cow or weeding a row of chard, I am constantly contemplating farm life and how I am going to be successful with an operation of my own someday. What is most encouraging here is seeing the cooperation between the four farmers and their families. They work amazingly long hours, but they are doing it together and at the end of the day, they are all together to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Not only is there a diversity of crops here, but also a diversity of opinions and worldviews that I think has made Full Belly what it is today. That to me seems like the essence of a sustainable farm life, one that is shared and enjoyed by the community of friends and family around you.

— Ellen Knight