Theme: COVID

News from the Farm | April 29, 2024

Alicia Baddorf, a friend of mine who’s long been active in the Yolo County agriculture community, recently conducted research on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on Northern California CSA Farmers for her Master’s thesis in the Community Development Program at UC Davis. Full Belly Farm was included in this study and I found the results really interesting and thought our community would too! Thanks to Alicia for writing up some reflections and sharing them with us! For those interested in reading her entire thesis, you can find it here.

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager

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News From the Farm | March 15, 2021

Along with 20 other farms, our farm got to participate in a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic last week.  The clinic was organized by Yolo County and took place on a nearby farm.  In all, 338 farmworkers got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (so we don’t need to go back) and over 200 people returned to get their second Pfizer vaccine after a clinic at the same farm a couple of weeks ago.  By the end of this month, we can rest assured that 90% of our crew is protected.

Yolo County announced its intention to vaccinate frontline workers on February 15th and started pop-up clinics on farms a few days later. These clinics are part of a landmark effort in California to bring the vaccine directly to the fields.  Reports of similar pop-up clinics have come from Riverside, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Marin, and small farmworker towns in Tulare and Fresno Counties.

These clinics are noteworthy for taking place in usually underserved areas like Dinuba, Earlimart and Porterville.  Farmworkers are at high risk of getting COVID, and outbreaks have crippled the work force on farms across the country.  Between Mid-July and November of last year, 13% of farmworkers in the Salinas Valley tested positive in comparison to only 5% of Californians in general.   Latino food and ag workers age 18 to 65 in CA had a nearly 60% increase in mortality during 2020 compared with pre-pandemic times — that’s a very high risk factor.

Farmworkers often live in crowded, multigenerational houses, eat together in dining halls,  travel to work and out to the fields in crowded vans, or work in bustling packing houses.  They can have spotty internet access and may be wary of registering for government programs at large vaccination sites.  Yet these workers never missed a beat when the shelter in place was announced — they are the first step in the chain that gets food to everyone’s table. For all of these reasons, the prioritization of farm workers and the on-farm clinics to deliver those vaccines make a tremendous amount of sense.  When was the last time that you saw farmworkers get preferential treatment for anything?

California is ahead of the curve in terms of farm worker vaccines.  In states like Georgia, Texas, New York and Florida, farmworkers are not yet in the priority groups authorized to receive the shots.  Although the CDC recommended that farm workers should be prioritized along with other essential workers, the CDC also allowed states to set their own priorities and some states are requiring documentation of legal residency which is a good way to disqualify many farm workers. In my view, if ever there was a clear need to set aside the requirement for documentation, this is the time.

With the shortage of vaccines (which hopefully is going to become a thing of the past) and the limitations in logistical preparation, health officials everywhere are grappling with questions of equity.  In California, where 40% of the vaccines are supposed to be directed to disadvantaged areas, there are still inequities.  By February 19th, 24% of African Americans over the age of 65 in Los Angeles had received a vaccine, compared to 43% of white residents in the same age bracket. One of our farmers market crew members, an 80-year old African American without a car or smart phone, needed a COVID test a few months ago.  He walked all the way to a test site and was turned away because he didn’t have an appointment. In that same time frame, all of the other members of the farmers market crew (all white) were easily able to get tested.

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News From the Farm | November 2, 2020

Harvesting Olives  —  

Living on a farm brings Nature’s timetable to the forefront of daily cycles.  In the summertime much of the focus during the day is on selling, harvesting and packing the bounty from the fields.  Now, in the early Fall we are still selling a lot of produce but pods of activity on the farm are devoted to various crop harvests that will hold us through the winter months and a lot of energy is devoted to getting fields planted and the farm prepared for the winter. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 3, 2020

August 1st CSA box, photo by member Maria Grazia  —   

People call Wednesday hump day because they are halfway to the weekend. I am thinking that the next couple of weeks are kind of the hinge or the hump of the Full Belly summer season. We’ve picked our way through the first fields of tomatoes and melons. People in stores are looking for our products because they’ve had a chance to taste some from the early summer. High school kids that were working here for their summer breaks are already talking about needing to go back to school, whatever that may mean this year. Some of the fields are starting to look tired and weedy. The first flush of Spring energy is long-gone and the familiar long-distance runner endurance is kicking in. We’ve kind of made it to the halfway point of the season. In fact, in terms of day length we really are about halfway between the summer solstice and the fall equinox (September 22), so it makes sense that it feels like hump week here on the ground at the Home Ranch.

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News From the Farm | July 20, 2020

Bonifacio with melons & basil  —  

Full Belly has sold our produce to dozens of restaurants over the years, sometimes over a span of decades, and we’ve learned a lot about cuisine and community through those relationships. It was at one of those restaurants that I lunched with my father and mother many weeks in a row, after I had finished a farmers market and my father had finished chemotherapy treatments nearby.  Many of the restauranteurs have supported community events in the Capay Valley year after year.  I have a wonderful memory of a radiant Judy Rodgers (then the chef at Zuni Café) making an enormous bowl of her famous bread salad at our “Day in the Country” fundraiser for the Yolo County Land Trust many years ago. Special occasions and visits with friends — the restaurants are full of memories.  They are places to have a good meal and so much more. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 13, 2020

Francisco Zavala Medina, Full Belly mechanic — 

All of us, including bona fide analysts and researcher types are trying to figure out what our lives and the world will look like on the other side of the pandemic.  An interesting report from CoBank predicts that “economic recovery may now favor rural communities for the first time in many years.”  Rural areas were slower than urban to recover from the last recession but that may not be true in the case of the pandemic.  For one thing, rural areas are less densely populated, which could be “vital for economic resilience in the face of COVID-19.”   In addition, the job loss has not been as severe in rural counties. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 29, 2020

The place to be when the temperature hits 102 degrees  — 

We are looking back on what was a very hot week here at Full Belly, with triple digits every day. (As our friend at Terra Firma Farm said, we were Sweltering in Place!) Looking forward, temperatures are predicted to be in the 90’s for a little while, which will be a big relief.  California has some rules about how to protect farm workers from heat stress with water, shade and mandatory breaks every two hours when the temperature is over 95.  While this (and other measures) can prevent people from getting sick, it is still uncomfortable to be working in the fields in a mask, during super hot weather.  Thank you to all members of our farm crew. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 4, 2020

Our friend Nate Norris, the Chef de Cuisine at Zuni Café was one of the first restauranteurs to contact Full Belly after the shelter in place started and Zuni closed its doors to the public.  Nate was thinking about how farmers and restaurants might cooperate to respond to the crisis.  Zuni Café, located in a unique and historic triangular 1913 building on Market Street in San Francisco, was established in 1979 and has long been an outstanding example of classic meals, a warm and convivial atmosphere, and a beloved neighborhood gathering place.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 13, 2020

Planting onions, social distance style  —

The many sad events of the last month include the sudden absence of restaurant and art venues in our communities, the massive unemployment, and the loss of the alternative weekly press in communities across the country.  That last is close to my heart as my sister and brother in law had to close their three weekly papers – incredible assets in Sacramento, Reno and Chico – when their advertising revenue disappeared overnight. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 6, 2020

At the Capital: Dave Runsten (Community Alliance with Family Farmers), Judith Redmond (Full Belly Farm), Jimmy Panetta (Representing California’s 20th District) and Ken Kimes (New Natives).       

This is a message from one of your dedicated farmers who has been a full time CSA Coordinator for the last 3 weeks.  I spent the week of March 9th in Washington DC for a meeting of the Organic Farmers Association. I was there with organic farmers from all over the country.  We had for many months been planning a series of meetings at the Capital with our representatives. Long-time organic farmers, many of them who have been involved in shaping our movement from the beginning, were focussed on some of the important issues in organic agriculture — how to protect the integrity of the organic label for example. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 23, 2020

CSA seasonal flowers start NEXT week!

Thank you to everyone who has written to wish us well at the farm.  We apologize if we are not able to answer each and every email.  Farming has officially been deemed an “essential service”, which makes a lot of sense, and we are continuing our work, creating ways of protecting our staff, our produce and our customers.  Many people have written repeatedly asking questions like the following: “Hi. I know this is a tough time for everyone. I saw the email that was sent out with instructions for people picking up boxes.  I was hoping to get more information about precautions taken by Full Belly staff, otherwise I will cancel.” [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 16, 2020

Full Belly Situation Room —This is what our meetings look like!

Flu Safety — 

The Coronavirus outbreak illustrates that the health and well-being of each of us is connected, from one person to the next. Full Belly has been getting many calls from friends asking how we are doing and how they can help at the same time as many people are concerned about the safety of the CSA boxes and the farmers markets.  We wanted to tell you that we always take precautions to make sure that our fruits and veggies are sanitary and we will double down on those procedures even more now. [Read more…]