News From the Farm | Week of September 23, 2013

Kick Your Heels Up and Put Your Hoes Down!

Every year it seems as though the calendar pages turn a little faster, the days speed by a bit, well, speedier, and just as we, the farmers, are about to collapse from summer exhaustion a glorious thing happens. The nights get cooler. The days get shorter. The last melons and tomatoes and hot-weather crops come out of the field. Fall is upon us. Sigh. Fall is so dreamy.

For most farms, this change in season signals a slow down – a time to drink bigger cups of decaf coffee and reflect on the summer. A time to begin work on all of the projects that were pushed aside while tomatoes and basil and eggplant and peppers needed harvesting. A time to wake up later and go to sleep earlier. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it…), Full Belly Farm is not like most farms. The folks here at Full Belly are still in a frenzy, gearing up for the 26th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival, happening the first weekend in October. 

The reasons for coming to the Hoes Down are endless – celebration, laughter, friendships, food, getting your hands dirty, kicking up your heels – but I was challenged to narrow it down. A farm girl never shies away from a challenge, so I did my darndest to come up with the best of the best.

Top Ten Reasons to join us at the 26th Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival: 

#10: The Workshops! Have you ever wondered how to raise backyard chickens? How to prune a peach tree? How to identify the good insects in your yard or garden? The 2013 Hoes Down workshop lineup is one-of-a-kind, and packed with hands-on and practical learning opportunities.

#9: The music is some of the most toe-tapping, boot-stomping, knee-slapping, kick-your-heels-up, good time music we have ever featured. Make sure to swing your partner around during the contra dance! Try out your dancing shoes during The Dustbowl Revival ( and Joy and Madness (

#8: After spending the night camped under the stars, you can wake up to a delicious breakfast and a Sunday filled with activities from in-depth workshops and seminars to REALLY fun farm clean up. You won’t want to go home early!

 #7: Every single penny raised during the Hoes Down goes to the Ecological Farming Association ( and local community organizations, such as the Davis Farm to School, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Kathleen Barsotti Foundation, and the local Future Farmers of America and 4-H clubs. These are the organizations that help shape the the food and farming climate of our region. By attending the Hoes Down, you are supporting important causes!

#6: The food alone is worth any drive – such mouthwatering sensations can only be found at the Hoes Down! From organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables to fresh Prather Ranch beef, you will definitely leave with your belly full and happy taste buds. Over 90% of the food served at the Hoes Down has been donated by amazing businesses who care deeply about the future of agriculture in California!

#5: The world-renowned Children’s Area is truly one of a kind. Kids of all ages can spend hours crawling through the 700-bale hay fort, turning wool into yarn or felt, churning ice cream, or petting the various animals featured in the 4-H petting zoo. The activities are endless – and so is the fun!

#4: The Illuminated Carved Pumpkins! Every year, over 500 pumpkins are carved by festival- goers and they are all displayed on the path leading to the heart of the festival. Folks of all ages and talents use Full Belly pumpkins to create masterpieces that make the Hoes Down so special. One of our favorite moments is when the pumpkins are all lit – it is not a sight to miss!

#3: The Hoes Down gives you the chance to get your toes dirty on a real, working farm. You can take a farm tour with one of the Full Belly partners or fall asleep in the shade of an apple tree. Whatever your speed, the farm has opportunities for everyone.

#2: The festival is all about celebration. It is a time to form new friendships, strengthen relationships, and spend a weekend playing with those you appreciate and love. In a world where we are often lost in cyberspace, a weekend at a farm is often just what the doctor ordered!

#1: The Hoes Down is pure fun. Seriously. You can’t go wrong with great music, wonderful food, and the best people surrounding you. Come join hands with us farmer-folk. We would love to have you here!

These are just the top ten reasons. There are literally hundreds of activities to choose from on October 5 (wine tasting, a circus, Olive Olympics, ice cream churning, local breweries, splashing in Cache Creek, petting farm animals, Manure Pitch Off, sheep shearing, sudan grass maze, acupuncture, massage, amazing arts and crafts vendors, felting, solar cooking, the list could go on and on!) that help to create a truly magical weekend. We hope you, your family, and your friends will join us for the 26th annual Hoes Down on October 5 and 6!

To find out more about the Hoes Down, visit If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at See you October 5!

— Hallie Muller