News From the Farm | September 3, 2018

The Weekend-That-Would-Have-Been

Right about this time in past years, our readers would probably have been rolling their eyes at yet another message from Full Belly Farm about our Hoes Down Harvest Festival.  This year, not a peep, right?

There have been 30 Hoes Down Harvest Festivals at Full Belly Farm over the years, but there will not be one this year.  They are usually held on the first weekend in October, so we’re calling October 6th and 7th the  “would-have-been” weekend.

There are multiple reasons why we are taking a break, all summed up in the collective commitment of the distinguished Hoes Down Steering Committee to re-envision this wonderful event.  To quite a number of our friends who have told us that the Hoes Down is their favorite day of the year, and that their kids are going on hunger strikes, we answer that we are excited to bring back an even more magical, educational and meaningful Festival in future, but we must warn you that it may be different! 

When we sent out the news in late May to volunteers from year’s past, here are some of the responses that we got…

My nine year old daughter said it’s the third best place on earth: 1. Disneyland 2. Legoland 3. Hoes Down.

Not to lay on the guilt, but the Hoes Down is just about as important as Christmas in our family. 

The reason I keep coming back is because I love the community that I feel while the festival is on, specifically because I volunteer. I like to be a part of the farm, not just a participant.

Oh no! This is so disappointing! This is my family’s favorite event of the year!

This news has totally discombobulated us.

As Hoes Down volunteers for over a decade, we are saddened by this but totally support the need to take a year off after 30 years!  For our Oakland-dwelling family, the Hoes Down has been a tradition for many reasons and the highlight of our fall. Our favorite part of the whole weekend has always been Friday night, eating spaghetti with other volunteers, and late on Sunday afternoon, when the crowds have gone and we take one last swim in the river before driving home, exhausted and elated. For our kid, Full Belly is a safe place where he is free to roam in way that is much harder to do in Oakland, and the magical moments that we’ve experienced over the years—like getting caught in a crazy rainstorm but then dancing anyway—are too magical for one e-mail! 

The primary purpose of the Hoes Down is to promote the knowledge of agricultural arts and sustainable agriculture. We try to do that through the many inspiring and educational activities organized for the weekend.  There is another purpose however, and that is to raise funds for community organizations doing good work. 100% of Hoes Down proceeds are donated to statewide and local organizations working on projects that benefit sustainable agriculture and rural communities.  We are sad to disappoint all of our friends and the Hoes Down community by taking a year off, but also sad that organizations that rely on funds from the Festival, may be unable to carry-on with their projects.  If any of our readers would like to help in reducing the level of our sadness, perhaps they might consider a donation in the name of the Hoes Down, to some of the groups that the Hoes Down has funded in the past.  If you would like to do this, please visit the Hoes Down web page where there is a DONATE button.

Meanwhile, we are all making alternate plans for the weekend-that-would-have-been.  After all, we’ve always been at Full Belly Farm on that weekend for pretty much as long as we can remember, and there’s a wide, wide world out there to explore!

—Judith Redmond

Andrew found this cute little guy in the peach orchard. Jackrabbit moms put each young one in its own hiding place and take care of them for only 3 days. The babies venture out for the first time after about 21 days, and I bet this one wasn’t much older than that.