News From the Farm | September 28, 2020

Keeping the Faith by Maria Grazia  —  

The Full Belly Farm Boxes are very much an expression of our farm season — the time of year, the length of the day, the amount of sun or frost, and of course the level of care and attention that we are able to bestow on the crop. We rarely buy products from other farms to put into the boxes and we would be the first to acknowledge that there are some occasions when the boxes are a little bit repetitive from week to week — although we do try to avoid that.  It may be true that this summer, when our number of members unexpectedly doubled in March, we hadn’t been able to plan ahead for all of the new interest and excitement around CSA membership, and that may have resulted in less box variation than usual from week to week.

California is a pretty amazing agricultural state.  When you visit a grocery store, you might imagine that radishes, lettuce, eggplants and tomatoes were all in season at the same time — and they are — in California…   At the farmers markets that Full Belly goes to during the summer, there are farms from the California Salinas Valley that specialize in lettuce and greens as well as farms from the Sacramento Valley that specialize in tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and melons.  So Buy Fresh, Buy Local shoppers at California’s farmers markets can take home what we (at Full Belly) consider both hot season crops and cool season crops during the summer.

The advocates of Buying Fresh and Buying Local describe all kinds of advantages to shopping this way, like increasing community health, promoting agriculture, creating economic activity that stays local, reducing the use of fossil fuels and plastic packaging, even reducing the risks of food contamination.  All of those things are true in the case of the Full Belly membership. 

The Berkeley Farmers Market Crew

I have an additional anecdotal theory…  I believe that the crops that we can grow in the summer are what humans actually NEED to be eating in the summer — Watermelons to help you hydrate in hot weather; Greens and citrus fruits that boost your immunity against flu viruses in cool weather.  And there is more than anecdotal evidence that the additional fruits and vegetables in people’s diets are a big health advantage.

Eating with the seasons can be confusing for a CSA member who wishes for greens during the summer or tomatoes during the winter — products that they are not likely to get in a Full Belly box at the same time.  The exception to that rule is illustrated by this week’s box, produced in the shoulder season, when summer crops are still being harvested and Fall crops are just starting.

The 2020 summer tomatoes, melons and sweet peppers are swiftly disappearing from the priority list on the daily harvest sheet and Fall vegetables will soon take over.  Our flower season is over on September 30 and the big Fall harvests are underway: almonds, walnuts and winter squash. Now that we have had a little more opportunity for planning, we hope to provide all of you with Fall boxes that you will love!

—Judith Redmond

The last of CSA flowers