News From the Farm | October 21, 2019

Throughout the year the landscape of Full Belly Farm goes through many changes.  Flowers bloom beside the campsite tents in summer, cover crop fields change into parking lots for the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in the Fall and roaming chicken coops pop up in fields all over the farm.  And when the days get shorter and the evening air begins to chill, our farm goes through a new transformation as we prepare the landscape for the winter months ahead.  First, in order to get a lot of vegetable matter off of the ground, we send in our trusty lawn mowers and composters: our Capay Red sheep. They love eating up the leftover squash and as you walk beside the field you can hear them chomping and breaking the outer skin of the squash to get to the refreshing watery center.

The flock will stay on a half-acre space for about 3-4 days, then move on to another half-acre.  Our sheep are some of our greatest workers, as they not only do a great job cleaning our fields but they also spread valuable organic fertilizer!  Their small hooves help to kick-up roots left behind, creating a small, minimal tilling.  As they eat and digest the squash left behind, their behinds spread manure, helping to replenish the soil.

After the sheep have done their work, the soil is covered with additional compost that we buy from an off-farm supplier.  We spread about 8 to 10 tons per acre using a tractor with our compost spreader attached.  While the tractor drives at about ten miles an hour, the spreader puffs out clouds of compost every couple of seconds allowing it to evenly distribute over the field.

Once this process is completed the field is ready for planting! It could become a spinach field, or romaine lettuce, or a cover crop to prepare the field for spring planting.  Depending on the crop, it can take weeks, or a month to prepare a field for its next planting.  We believe that the quality of the crop will depend on the cover crops, compost and our four-legged workers who do such a good job of growing quality soil.

— Sierra Reading