Theme: advocacy

News from the Farm | February 12, 2024

Today’s Farm News covers two small ways you can get involved to help combat food insecurity. It’s a huge, complicated problem, but that means that any measures to chip away at it are important.

First, our CSA donation program. We’ve gotten a few inquiries recently, thus wanted to explain how it currently works! On a week that you don’t want a box, you have the option to donate or skip. Skipping means we move the box to the end of your schedule, or to a date you’ve specified. When you donate your box, the value of the box (or flowers, or whatever you’ve donated) goes into our Good Food Community Fund. When it comes time to set up donation boxes, we pull from the Fund. We don’t make the box and then donate it, thus why we need as much advance notice for skips and donations. We also have a few particularly generous CSA members who make separate donation payments just to the fund.

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News from the Farm | May 30, 2022

This week’s News from the Farm is from guest writer Dave Runsten, Senior Policy Analyst, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). Dave and CAFF are long-time friends of Full Belly and advocates for farms like ours in Washington and Sacramento. We appreciate the great work that they do on our behalf and hope that you’ll support them (and us) by participating in their campaign. The images are some examples of the great artwork that recent farm guests with the Art & Ag Project from Yolo Arts shared with us. The top watercolor is from Johanna Pack and the bottom from is from Elly Gould.

The Drought and Small Farmers: #Don’t Let Small Farms Dry Up!

Like Full Belly Farm, there are many small farms in California that produce food for local communities. These are the thousands of farms at farmers’ markets, running CSAs and farm stands, and selling to restaurants. This group includes most beginning farmers, immigrant farmers, and farms run by people of color. Most of these farms are dependent on groundwater for food safety or because they are located outside irrigation districts. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 21, 2022

Farming can be difficult, in addition to awe-inspiring and rewarding. Last week was pretty tame but we still dealt with fierce north winds, equipment issues, pest pressure, COVID-19, a delivery truck with a flat tire, and internet and email issues, just to name a few things. Worry about the short-term and long-term implications of the drought and climate change are never far off. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 23, 2021

Recently transplanted broccoli for the fall, grown in soil like we’ve always done  —  

We wear many different hats here at the farm. Each partner tries to embody their ideal and spirit of being activist farmers on top of our day-to-day work. There is an underlying sensibility that comes from the simple act of growing food and making a farm into a living, breathing, productive whole. We have been active in the Organic Food movement for over 40 years as our effort to solve for a pattern of health: in rural communities, in order to eliminate toxic pesticides from farms, in order to make safer workplaces for farmers and farm workers, and in order to supply better, safer food for those consuming what we produce. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 12, 2021

We are having some very hot days here at the farm, an experience that we share with other inland Californians. The heat is bringing on the produce. Trucks and trailers full of melons, eggplants, peppers, beans and other delicious summer treats are driving along the farm’s dirt roads, from the fields and to the packing shed, in a parade that reaches a crescendo at the end of the day as the harvest is completed. It is ‘all hands on deck’ in the packing shed then, when several dozen people finish the last packaging, put produce in the coolers and load trucks.  Each day is incredibly detail laden, full of troubleshooting, decision making and continuous attempts to balance multiple needs.


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News From the Farm | February 1, 2021

We are so happy to have had rain — and we are hoping for more, much more.  This week’s storm is just a start on what the land needs.  We woke up last Tuesday morning to frosty and freezing scenery, and a few days later the beautiful sight of a ribbon of snow snaking along the tops of the western hills.  Farmers love weather, and this was a big weather week.  As the snow melted, the report came that the snow melt could be seen running down the hills and into the Creeks on the Valley floor. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 21, 2020

It sometimes feels like our lives have been put on hold as we navigate the current reality. Our friends are more separate, our children tethered close to home, we are using our computer screens to assess body language and connect in ways that aren’t real and human. It is not a healthy development and we need to redesign. Now may be a time of opportunity.

My daughter, Hallie and my sister Marianne are grade school teachers faced with the task of trying to create effective on-line learning for their students. They witness that it doesn’t work to have young students spend hours looking at a computer screen. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 8, 2020

My name is Hannah Muller and I am a second generation Full Belly Farmer. I also run Instagram accounts for both the Farm and our floral business. In light of the killing of George Floyd, and our ever-growing concern towards police brutality and racism we believe that food and flowers aren’t the only things we should be sharing. I have been using our social media platforms to encourage others to support the Black Lives Matter movement, to listen to the voices of black farmers and activists, and to learn how to be a better ally.  In response, someone told me I shouldn’t use our platform to express personal beliefs, because flowers are supposed to be happy. This was my response. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 30, 2020

There is a good deal to think about as this week’s News is written.  First of all, we are doing well here at the farm.  We trust that you are weathering this storm with an abundance of love and patience. It can be hard to muster these sentiments when so much seems in turmoil. 

Last week we had a hard and unanticipated freeze. Although the weather predicted a low of 36° here at the farm, the temps dipped to 27° for a solid five hours. When that happens, all of the summer-loving things, venturing out with the first push of green get burned. Everything from the young leaves of walnuts to figs, grapes and pomegranates turn black and are set back to the starting point. Many of the almonds set as small nutlets froze and were lost along with some of the apricots and peaches. The emerging potatoes were fried also. Now a thin black line on top of their beds. It is all a bit heartbreaking and frustrating, and yet part of what we accept as the bargain at this wonderful farm. We can get whipsawed by the unexpected and then watch a week later as the small leaves begin over and once again move toward the goal of bringing sunlight and soil to fruitfulness. We live in a generous and bountiful land where even with setbacks emerge and thrive. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving News From the Farm — 

We recently had a meeting of our Crew Supervisors and listened to them echoing themes that we ourselves have been discussing:  “There are not enough crew members here on the farm to do the work.  Each of our crews needs at least 5 or 6 people, and we often have only 2 or 3 people trying to do the work of 6.  The only solution is to cut back crop production 20% across the board.”

Basically, our crew is pointing out to us the fact that every year we hopefully plant, irrigate, weed and care for our beautiful crops, but often leave too many of them in the field because of the labor shortage that so many other farmers are also experiencing. The crux of this labor shortage has to do with the fact that the majority of US farm workers are immigrants, they always have been immigrants and most future farm workers will be immigrants as well.  With the current crackdown on immigration from Mexico and Central America, and the lack of public policy that would allow immigrants to work in the US legally, the stress on US agriculture is increasing.  Construction and Landscaping, which also rely on immigrant labor are in the same quandary.  And the labor shortage can be especially difficult for organic farmers growing labor intensive fruits and vegetables and often needing proportionally more labor because of a greater amount of hand weeding on organic farms. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 2, 2019

Seems like we may have a great crop of pomegranates, come October and November.

We recently wrote a letter to Governor Newson’s office about two climate change bills introduced into the legislature that have very little funding for agriculture. The bills would enact a bond act in 2020 that the Governor’s office is developing.  Here are excerpts from our letter:

I am thankful that increased attention is being given to prevention of and restoration after drought, wildfires and floods. I am a farm owner in Yolo County California, farming along Cache Creek in the Capay Valley.  My farm and home have been directly impacted in the last decade by significant wildfires (County Fire, 2018 and Sand Fire, 2019), frightening flooding of Cache Creek, and the impacts of the most recent California drought.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | January 28, 2019

Soaking potatoes before washing them  ––

I had the opportunity last week to join some interesting conversations about nutrition and health — and their intersection with organic agriculture.  We reported in this newsletter previously that researchers are increasingly finding that people eating more organic food have a reduced risk of cancer.  Of course, other healthy behaviors, in addition to eating organic food, are obviously also very important to staying healthy — things like getting exercise and not smoking tobacco.  But it turns out that healthy behavior (over which individuals have some control) may only be a factor of about 30% in terms of influencing your health outcomes.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 28, 2018

Full Belly Farm employs a year-round, stable crew of around 60 people. They work in the field, in the packing shed, in the office and some people work a little bit of everywhere. It has long been our goal to keep as many of our crew members as possible working all year round, even though the amount of work required to keep the farm ship-shape varies tremendously from season to season.  

In order to keep people employed year round, we dry flowers in the spring and summer, and the flower crew makes wreaths in the winter.  We grow crops year-round and our CSA members sign up for veggie boxes, helping us to keep our harvest crews working in the winter.  We work on all kinds of construction and clean-up projects during the winter and even shorten the work-days and the work week, which makes it lean but workable for our core crew members.  But this core crew that works year round is never able to keep up with all of the work it takes during the busy summer and fall.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 10, 2017

Do the farmers in our country reflect the astonishing cultural diversity of our country? What do you think? Well, every Census cycle gives us a deep look into who is farming our food domestically, and more than 86% of those farm operators are men. More than 92% of the country’s 2.1 million farmers are non-Hispanic whites. In addition, in 2012, the average farmer was 58.3 years old, up from 57.1 years in 2007. The trends point to an undeniable truth about who is growing our food – an aging white male-dominated demographic. This leads me to ask, as a young white twenty year old woman, who is our next generation of farmers?

I hope that our next generation of farmers and rural landowners reflect the diversity of this country and our US census is starting to show trends reflecting the reality of my dreams for the future. The total number of farmers in the United States fell by 95,000 since the 2007 Census of Agriculture, but at the same time, the total number of minority farmers grew – nearly 97,000 of them checked a race box other than “white” on their census forms. That’s a 6.9% increase from 2007. The population of Asian farmers grew by 21.9%, the fastest rate of any minority group, up from 11,214 in 2007 to 13,699 in 2012. More than one-third of Asian farmers are located here in California. In addition, California ranks third in the nation for Hispanic farmers. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 19, 2017

Over the coming months, federal legislators will be working on a budget for fiscal year 2018 as well as a rework of the Farm Bill (which establishes food and agriculture programs for several years).  Both of these efforts could have big impacts on the health of rural communities, the ability of poor families to afford food, and the level of agricultural research investments around the country.

The budget request from the administration proposes deep cuts ($230 billion, or 21%) to rural community and food assistance programs. Some of the proposed cuts of particular concern would gut the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and require severe funding reductions for programs that provide loans to family farmers and ranchers.  Several programs were zeroed out in the President’s proposal: value-added producer grants, appropriate technology transfer for rural areas, and rural cooperative development grants, among others. Conservation and stewardship programs that have built partnerships between the federal government, farmers, ranchers and community food advocates were also slated for elimination. The proposed budget would reduce funding for the Agricultural Research Service by $360 million (26%), possibly requiring the shuttering of 17 research centers. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 29, 2017

I spent the last week in New York state’s capital, Albany, at a conference of practitioners dedicated to strengthening regional food systems — farm businesses, food processing capacity for local farm products, distribution hubs and independent grocery stores.  These are the businesses that provide food to local communities and can serve as a locally controlled economic development powerhouse.

The people at the conference provide services to small-scale farmers.  They help them gain access to new markets; figure out how they can get loans if needed; provide legal services; run farmers markets and food hubs; and teach about new food safety and immigration rules.  Organizations that train new farmers as well as immigrant and refugee farmers were also there. Plenty of discussion ensued about business planning and financial record-keeping, all to promote viable farms that are economically profitable, with secure access to land and markets, using environmentally sound production practices. [Read more…]

Friends of the Earth

February 20, 2017

On Valentine’s day, these Friends of the Earth activists asked the manager of ACE Hardware Garden Center in Berkeley to stop selling plants dosed with Neonicotinoids that harm honey bees.  Full Belly donated the tulips that they presented to the manager, who was very supportive.

Full Belly Farm will be closed on Thursday in Support of the Day Without Immigrants

Almost all of Full Belly’s staff chose to participate in the strike planned for Thursday February 16, in which immigrants across the country will bring attention to the importance of their work in our economy. The Day without Immigrants calls for immigrants and those who stand in unity with them, not to attend work, open their businesses or spend money.

A majority (not all) of Full Belly’s staff are immigrants or first generation immigrants. Full Belly, of course, welcomes employees of all religions and a rainbow of ethnic backgrounds. When we discovered how widespread among our staff, was the support for the protest, we were proud to support it.

The winter is a time of year when work and thus take-home pay is short, so Full Belly will provide the entire staff partial pay to compensate them for lost work on this day. We will not be taking orders from any of our regular store and restaurant customers.

We have picked products (on Wednesday) for our Thursday market, and will be attending that market in San Rafael. In addition, we will be packing CSA boxes for our Friday customers (usually packed on Thursday), but only because those customers have paid in advance.

Thank you to all of our friends, CSA members and customers for your understanding. We hope, through this symbolic effort, to show our support for immigrant communities around the world.

News from the Farm | February 16, 2015

With weather in the 70s and blossoms on the trees, it’s spring fever for certain. And with thoughts of spring come thoughts of planting, and seeds. Indeed, such were the thoughts of an enthusiastic group of farmers and gardeners from the Capay Valley and beyond, who gathered at the Western Yolo Grange Hall in Guinda at the end of January for the 2nd Annual Seed, Plant and Scion Swap. It was a chance to bandy and barter all manner of plant matter, from seeds to starts to fruit tree cuttings. Seed and plant exchanges like this one have sprung up across the country in recent years, and represent a hearty interest in community resiliency and local self-sufficiency.  Regionally saved seeds can be selected for, and therefore more adapted to, the specific climate and environmental challenges of a locale, and for farmers or gardeners, saving their own seeds expresses independence, knowledge and access. The exchange and preservation of seeds can be organized relatively informally, as a once a year community seed swap (like here in the Capay Valley) or it can take on the more formalized form of a seed library. Across the United States, there are now over 300 seed libraries, all providing low-cost or “free access to seeds, protect[ing] the diversity of our food sources, and educat[ing] community members about growing food and saving seed.” (

Inspirational, right? Perhaps you already use your local seed library or seed swap, or perhaps you now want to start one. But did you know that there’s an important campaign under way to ensure that these models of local and regional seed sharing don’t become unfairly targeted by state department of agriculture laws that were written with commercial seed transactions in mind? [Read more…]

News from the Farm | February 2, 2015

“In the next 20 years, 400 million acres of farmland will change hands.” Severine von Tscharner Fleming was speaking to a gathering of young and not so young farmers and farm allies in Capay Valley at the Guinda Grange Hall. She came equipped with facts, stories, models and strategies to share – all with a purpose to ensure land access to a rising generation of agriculturalists.

In the Capay Valley, we are fortunate to have a growing community of young and beginning farmers and ranchers. The challenges they face to build a successful career are numerous, but perhaps the biggest is reliable access to land. Nationwide, the price of farmland has risen dramatically in recent years, more than tripling in value from 2003 to 2013. What’s happening to farmland in the U.S. is part of a larger phenomenon also occurring in developing countries. [Read more…]