Theme: fire

News From the Farm | April 19, 2021

A set of baby chicks arrived last week and 6 piglets were born on Saturday 4/18! (Piglet photo courtesy of Julia Funk)

We are enjoying mild, beautiful weather here at Full Belly Farm, the warm afternoons and constant effort to get water to all of our fields underscoring everyone’s ever-present uneasiness that we are in a parched drought year.  Cache Creek, usually a significant source of irrigation water in the summer months will benefit from reservoir water releases for only 45 to 60 days, so Full Belly, like farms all over the state, will be using more groundwater than otherwise. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 14, 2020

Almond harvest, daily marketing, picking and packing of our crops, and the construction of a tall deer fence around the recently planted strawberry patch are just a few of the activities that continued last week against the backdrop of six of the most massive fires in California’s history.

The daily CalFire newsletter has more-or-less the same format each morning, just the numbers increase — now there are 16,750 firefighter, 29 major wildfires and over 3.3 million acres burned, with fatalities and destroyed structures duly tallied.  The record-high temperatures, gusty winds and lighting strikes have led us to a situation that meteorologists and climate scientists keep calling “unprecedented” with various extremes coming together all at once in a way that makes it hard for the weather guys to do what they usually do — simply predict temperatures. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 7, 2020

Crew harvesting Red Kuri Squash  —  

If our CSA program can shed any light on bigger trends in the world, people are leaving northern California in droves.  Usually we notice this in August when everyone gets in their last vacation before school starts.  Usually at that point our farmers markets slow down and we process lots of “skips” for our CSA members.  But in the last couple of weeks, we have heard from an uncommon number of members who are moving out of California completely; taking very extended leaves of absence; or moving in with the folks for awhile.  A good time to get out of Dodge?   Perhaps a good time to get out of the heat and smoke, but you better make sure that your absentee ballot is taken care of! [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 31, 2020

Two more really lovely photos of Full Belly vegetables from our CSA member Maria Grazia — 

We continue to hear news of friends who have lost buildings and been evacuated from burning areas.  Now we realize how lucky the Capay Valley was to escape major damage — the wind was on our side.  Our experience in which locals worked on their own to prevent the fires from reaching homes and buildings was by no means unique.  CalFire, doing their best but stretched too thin, also didn’t show up for several days in other areas and stories abound of people trying to save historic structures and iconic buildings and often tragically failing. Community Alliance with Family Farmers has re-launched their emergency fund that will provide some support to family farmers impacted by the fires. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 24, 2020

Harvesting the Heirloom Tomatoes that we put into your CSA boxes.  Those little carts that we built really help us get the tomatoes out of the field  —  

This has been a sad and scary week for many of our friends facing this astonishing explosion of wildfires all over northern California.  At this point we still don’t even know the full extent of what has been lost. The Community Alliance with Family Farmers has relaunched its California Family Farmer Emergency Fund, offering direct support to the agricultural community, in particular small farms and those falling through the cracks of traditional safety nets.  We know that CAFF will make sure that every donated dollar will count. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 10, 2019

Just as many of us were about to go into weekend mode, on Saturday afternoon, the Sand Fire sent the northern Capay Valley into a controlled panic. The fire started in the hills just behind Rumsey, off of a road that had been washed out and was inaccessible to fire equipment.  The high winds and hot weather threatened to push the fire down the valley towards Guinda.  It loomed above farms and ranches, where people, houses, animals and crops were in harms way.  Around here, the evacuations include animals, so horses, goats, cats and dogs were moved in a very short time, with all the decisions and coordination that entails taking place in short order. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 12, 2018

The monumental tragedy of the Paradise fire is hard to comprehend.  A community swept away with a wall of flames driven by powerful winds offered little time to escape. The reality of fire consuming an entire town in a morning and the personal terror and loss is a sobering reminder of our interdependence and proximity to profound potential for change driven by a flame, or a gust, or a chance mistake. A brief spark can alter the trajectory of lives or extinguish the same in an unimaginable fury.  We turn our hearts to those who are suffering loss. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 30, 2018

Hannah at the California State Fair.

It is Monday morning and the skies here are thick with the smoke and haze from the many fires burning in Northern California. We told our farm crew that if it is difficult to work, we may end the day early. We had shortened days this past week when field temperatures were near 112º. The sobering relationship of too little rain, a parched landscape, high temperatures, heavy fuel loads in areas where homes are being built under tree canopies, make one reflect about resilience, climate uncertainty, and our relationship with our larger landscape and wild lands. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 9, 2018

“We have seen unprecedented rates of spread and unusually erratic and dangerous behavior in fires over the last 5 years,” said Section Chief Brenton, a 31-year Cal Fire veteran, at a community meeting in Guinda last week.

As I write this, Cal Fire is still working to contain the northern edge of the fire (west of Full Belly Farm). The farm is in no danger, as we are across the highway from the fire, but we continue to see flames and smoke, mostly from a planned back-burn that was started last night. The amazing water-tanker-helicopters are still at work, roaring low right over the farm to hover over Cache Creek while sucking up water. We watch as they circle back to the fire and we can sometimes see a sheet of water falling from the belly of the helicopter. In one 14-hour period, 20 helicopters dropped 640,000 gallons of water on the fire, but it kept burning. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 2, 2018

The County fire started just a little bit after 2:00pm on Saturday afternoon just down the highway from Full Belly Farm, and within 30 hours had spread to more than 44 thousand acres.  It was mesmerizing to watch the flames and the dramatic drops of water and fire suppressants as the fire moved erratically, following the wind.  

Planes and helicopters circled around the smoke, looking very tiny next to the massive, billowing clouds and black plumes that jumped from one hot spot to another.  From the highway we watched many dozens of busloads full of fire-fighters from neighboring counties, on their way to make fire breaks by hand in the incredibly hot, smoky, hilly terrain.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 7, 2017

On July 8th, our friends Danny and Drew at Peach Jamboree Farm lost their entire homestead and all of their personal possessions to the destructive and fiery-hot Wall Fire in Oroville California. Danny and Drew were assured that the fire wouldn’t make it to their farm, when suddenly the winds shifted and they had 30 minutes to gather animals and get out of harms way. The wildfire tragically took their house and belongings, their workshop, packing shed, cooler, several other structures and most of their tools and equipment.  The buildings were left as tons of rubble on their land that they now need to clean up.  The fire melted irrigation lines, damaged the electrical system, destroyed the plumbing and torched the native oaks. The buildings were all treasures, built by Carl, a master craftsman and their loss is especially sad to those of us who know the farm well.

Peach Jamboree Farm was known to us previously as Woodleaf Farm, established by our good friend Carl Rosato in 1980.  We know Carl as one of California’s very best organic peach growers and we are among his many students.  In 2015, Carl sold Woodleaf Farm to Danny and Drew so that he could move on to new projects. Carl has continued to mentor Danny and Drew and when he heard the bad news, arrived at the farm to help locate and cap underground irrigation lines that had melted and were creating geysers in the destroyed buildings. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 3, 2015

“Here in California

The fruit hangs heavy on the vine

There is no gold

I thought I’d warn you

And the hills turn brown in the summertime”

So wrote Kate Wolf in the early 1980’s.  This song was, and remains, one of my favorite folk songs of all times. Having spent my childhood roaming the green hills of verdant Vermont in the summer, California came as a shock to me upon moving here in my late teens.  It was as if winter was summer and summer was winter, in some strange disorienting fashion.  In fact, thinking of it in these terms has helped to reorient my California seasonality these many years later.  The summer hills here are dry brown, akin to the dead of winter in a January Vermont below-zero season. Things die and are reborn in the spring there; here it is the dry summer that is reborn with the life giving rains in the fall. [Read more…]