News from the Farm | November 27, 2023

We are rapidly approaching the end of the calendar year, and the end of the Full Belly Farm year (December 9) is even closer. 

These approaching milestones usually lead me to reflect upon the past year and plan for the upcoming year. Something that’s been on my mind more than usual recently has been the “C” in CSA, community. Who is in our community? How do we support our community and how does our community support us?

On the surface, it’s an easy answer. 

  • We grow food, flowers, and nuts, raise animals, and make products in our kitchen. Our community consists of the people who purchase, consume, and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
  • Our community includes the approximately 1,300 households per week that get CSA boxes in Albany, Berkeley, Danville, Davis, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Esparto, Fairfield, Fremont, Guinda, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Mountain View, Oakland, Orinda, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Pinole, Sacramento, San Carlos, San Francisco, San Geronimo, San Leandro, San Rafael, and Woodland.

But it’s so much more than that. The Farm’s relationship with our CSA community and our wider community is more than an exchange of money for food. We strive to build relationships between those who produce and consume food and to create a healthier food system for farmers, eaters, and the ecosystem. We aim to educate and engage eaters so they are more informed about agriculture, the people behind their food, and responsible environmental stewardship. We believe in sharing the farm and try to make it open and accessible as possible. We use this newsletter to bring you to the farm each week, provide context for your food, and share what we’re doing and thinking about with newsletter, with words, photos, and videos. By joining the CSA, you are expressing your support of these goals, investing in us, and reaping the benefits in the weeks and months ahead, and in the connections and partnership you’ve formed with us.

So what do we get from you? It’s satisfying to plant a seed, watch it grow, and harvest it. It’s real, tangible work and it’s a good feeling to know that you’re feeding people. For me, my work is most meaningful when I hear from you, the members of our community: what you’re making with your produce, what you’re particularly enjoying, what you’re curious to learn more about, and what getting our produce means for you and your families. Our farmers market teams have these exchanges all the time; for me they occur over email, phone, and the occasional in-person meeting at an event like our annual CSA day or Instagram post. 

See below for a sample of a few pictures shared with us over the past year! Thanks to Chris (that’s a 100% Rouge de Bordeaux sourdough!), Stacey, Renate, Sarah, Jena, Ann, Maria, Claudia, and Sharon for sending.


As stated above, we view the CSA as more than a financial transaction, more than just produce. It’s a relationship, albeit one conducted primarily through boxes of produce and the accompanying newsletter in your inbox. Each box represents lots of work, time, planning, and resources and we want you to enjoy it all, so we want the newsletter to be as helpful as possible, thus the storage and preparation tips and myriad of recipe ideas. Don’t let it be a one-way flow of information; your suggestions and questions benefit the whole community. Earlier this year, when rutabaga was particularly abundant, many of you shared your favorite recipes and favorite ways to prepare it, which I included in subsequent Beet newsletters, and resulted in several new rutabaga lovers based on those suggestions. Other suggestions have become the Recipe of the Week. Interesting questions from CSA members have turned into Beet articles.

During the few weeks that the farm takes off, we’ll enjoy the time to rest and recharge and will come back excited and ready to go. During the rest of the year, we need other ways to gather energy. For me, it’s hearing from you. I can’t speak for anyone else about why they started farming and why they continue to do this work, but I do feel safe guessing that the support of our community (CSA members and all other friends and customers of Full Belly) is a significant  part for them too.

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager