Theme: farm history

News from the Farm | December 4, 2023

It has been one of our customs to try to condense our year in review into a final, last gasp News from the Farm for the year, recalling the past 12 months now fading in our rear-view mirror.

Every morning the partners and managers roll in about 10 minutes before the official start of the day to ask and answer “what do you have on your list today?” Tensions rise a bit as hastily penned lists whipped from pockets reveal eight opinions about where the fires are burning hottest and what needs to happen— in each opinion, now!!! There are always too many priorities across our several lists: pickingweedingwateringplantingflowersfixingbrokenstufftractorworkpartsneeded….. With but mere minutes for asserting one’s own territory and the horse trading begins. Multiple opinions, priorities, projects, personal predilections, and pluckiness collide at our office most every morning. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | July 10, 2023

This week marks a CSA milestone: ten years ago, we stopped using waxed cardboard boxes for the CSA and started using the green plastic “Stop Waste” boxes*. We call them our “Stop Waste” boxes because the initial box purchase was aided by a grant from StopWaste. At the time of the switch, Judith wrote “this is a trial run” and since we’re still using them a decade later, it seems that the trial was a success. So this week, it’s a deep dive on boxes, accompanied by a smattering of vintage box photos from the past ten years. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | January 17, 2022

The Capay Valley, looking southeast from just north of Rumsey

This week on the farm, talk is once again turning to planning: what varieties of tomatoes, onions, and melons to be dropped as seed in greenhouses. Green bean, corn, and potato varieties are being evaluated. Okra? Eggplant? How many pepper varieties? We begin our annual cycle once again. This week we try to hone quantities to plant, project market changes that include CSA numbers, and determine the balance between sales to wholesalers, restaurant and local stores and direct to customers.

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News From the Farm | October 26, 2020

Verdant beauties graced by tender pinks!  Maria Grazia Romeo  —  

Outside the wind is howling on this Sunday evening, tonight gusts are expected somewhere near 50 mph. The massive Eucalyptus tree that hovers over the north side of our house is always a concern during powerful winds. Its huge boughs are each themselves an enormous tree. We sleep on the far side of the house out of respectful caution.  As I write here at the kitchen table, under that enormous tree I am thinking that if you are reading this at home dear customer, then I probably made it through -as did the tree. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 11, 2020

What a challenging time, navigating fears, isolation, suspension of touch and comfort-giving and millions of unemployed.  Our Full Belly community sends hope that all of you are safe, strong and resilient. Dru and I shared a notion when we were parenting our 4 children and there was a particularly challenging moment:  It was, “this too shall pass” – a small comfort, but generally more than true. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 24, 2018

Excerpts from graduation address to the 7th California Farm Academy class on the steps of the state Capitol, Autumn Equinox 2018.

I want to talk a little bit about why I feel blessed to be a farmer. I have always loved and still love being outside, nurturing things as they grow.  Taking care of crops is a form of connection with things that are real and honest — the challenge of pests, the effort of weeds, the anticipation of seeds. It is a true blessing to have work that includes a connection to Nature.

Another way that I love farming and can recommend it, is that I enjoy the Full Belly Farm community.  Both the interns and the year-round crew have taught me a lot over the years, including a lot of the Spanish that I know. Speaking Spanish made my visits to Mexico more meaningful, not to mention the fact that Spanish is pretty useful for living in California, not just for visiting Mexico!  Being a farmer in California is a bicultural experience, with many farms employing a majority of Spanish-speakers and operating in Spanish much of the time.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 16, 2018

Years ago I had the opportunity to learn something about farming in California’s Central Valley, specifically, a little bit about water politics and policy. I was poking around in Water Districts and County government offices of Kern, Fresno and Kings counties, looking at documents that allowed me to map farm land ownership, and overlay that with data about who was actually farming the land.  Many times the farmer is not the owner of the farm land and a number of large “operating” companies manage large tracts of land in the Central Valley.

The location of farms in California is described in many official documents, using townships (a 6-mile square) and sections (1-square mile or 640-acres), a logical surveying system created in 1785 when the US government was dividing up and selling off land where tribes of American Indians had lived for centuries. Most of California’s Mexican Land Grants weren’t easily described by the rectangular system, but it’s use continues today. This system of surveying land was supposedly first proposed by Thomas Jefferson and associated with his philosophy of the ‘family farmer’ as the rightful settler of the young country. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 28, 2016

Much of the rich diversity and prosperity of California’s remarkable agricultural landscape came from the efforts of immigrants. Men and women settlers who came, occupied a landscape that was incredibly rich in an abundance of resources—cheap land, deep fertility of remarkable soils, abundant water, a sparsely settled landscape, along with oil, gold, fish, timber and rich grasslands. They undertook a vast harvest of timeless wealth with the energy of new converts to a religion of abundance. Hard work enabled so much harvest.

My father was one such immigrant, as were my mother’s parents, emigrating from Switzerland to California where opportunities seemed limitless. My father immigrated after the war and first worked in the Redwood forests of Northern California, felling what he called ‘beautiful giants’.  He and my mother went on to establish a successful dairy in part of “the Valley of the Hearts Delight” – the Santa Clara Valley – now Silicon Valley. The cows left as the silicon moved in… By 1968 most of the cows were gone and the fabric of the native landscape torn and forgotten.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 24, 2015

It was my parent’s 32nd wedding anniversary last week. To me, along with wishing them a happy day and giving them a big sloppy smooch on the cheek, this also meant working along side them on the farm on another hot summer day.

There are challenges and incredible benefits to working with my family members. As sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers, we are all joined in the valiant effort of trying to feed the souls and bellies of those who surround us. Additionally, we all try to remember to ask how weekends went, how children are, and check in with each other on a personal level. During these long summer days, it would be easy to slide into work and forget that we are family. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | Week of January 20, 2014

Strike up the band! And put your hands together for a big round of applause! Dru, Paul, Judith, and I are pleased and proud to announce the addition of Amon and Jenna Muller to Full Belly Farm’s ownership group.  January 1 marked this pivotal and thrilling foundational change at Full Belly Farm.  Besides their important roles in farm production and marketing, Amon and Jenna are spearheading the building and management of our new kitchen and event center.

 It is fair to say that farming is perpetually steeped in a dynamic process of biological growth and development. Generally we think of communities of plants, animals, microorganisms, fungi, etc. as the whole of the farm’s biology.  But most significantly, this biology extends to the relationships of farmers’ lives, to place, activity and succession.  It is in this respect that we are so excited to welcome and embrace members of the next generation in helping to lead the farm into the future.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 25, 2013

In 2002 I wrote to CSA members about Richard’s Barn, the 40-foot tall redwood barn that towers over other buildings at Full Belly. It was built almost 100 years ago and was originally used to store hay for the dairy cows that once lived here. The redwood on this barn is beautiful, the kind of redwood siding that sadly, may never be seen new again by anyone on this earth.

Here’s a paragraph from the 2002 essay:

“When we first moved here, the barn was chock full of a lifetime of accumulated tools, gadgets, knick knacks, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, screws, bolts, supplies and mysteries. It all belonged to Richard, who grew up on this farm and came by fairly often to check up on us (and look in on his barn). Dru once said that Paul spent more time talking to Richard than to her. After a while, we got a lot of Richard’s belongings out of the barn and moved them down to Richard’s walnut orchard, but we still always call it ‘Richard’s Barn’.”

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