Theme: Judith Redmond

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 | August 10, 2020

Ellis and Andrew with six bins of sunflowers that they helped to pick  —

Viewed close in on a summer’s day, it would be fair to say that Full Belly Farm grows a lot of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants — all members of the same large botanical family of plants called Solanacea, also known as Nightshades.   On many summer afternoons, a good portion of the crew, including owners can be found in the tomato fields picking, or in the packing shed surrounded on all sides by boxes of tomatoes.  

Viewed from a bit farther out, with a different perspective, it turns out that Full Belly actually grows a lot of other things as well — but the preponderance of Nightshades in the summer has been the recent subject of many a comment from our members. [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.

[Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 27, 2020

Our Fabulous Farmers Market Team in Berkeley  —  

Tradeoffs  —  

Last week, was hot and dry, but that is hardly news in the Capay Valley in July.  The fact that our field crews come to work every day in that sometimes too-hot weather, picking tomatoes and melons is also hardly newsworthy, but we do actively appreciate it.  A lot of lifting, carrying, bending, stacking and attention to detail passed over this farm last week — and every week of the year it seems.

Maria picking cherry tomatoes

One event that does stand out is that Full Belly acquired a brand new box truck to carry our produce down the road to market.  The truck arrived on Friday to join our already impressive fleet of five.  We often have two trucks and sometimes three on the road, usually driving down our two-lane state highway starting out in the wee hours of predawn.  We need at least another two trucks on hand to be loaded at the end of the day, ready for the round-trip to Sacramento, or the Bay Area. [Read more…]

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 | July 6, 2020

Amon looks at the soil in the no-till plot.  It was irrigated several weeks ago, but is still moist despite all the heat  — 

We have arrived at July, a month when harvest and market are top priorities at the farm.  A lot of other activities play supporting roles but the quantity and diversity of produce coming in from the fields dominate the senses and take up the bulk of our attention.   

We have had a number of members express their wish that we could allow them to customize their CSA boxes in various ways, for example by choosing what produce they get.  While we have developed a system for adding-on various items to the standard produce in the box, the sheer volume of activity in our packing shed and the multiple demands of the farm in general, make customization really challenging.  The places that can customize produce boxes are usually one step removed from the farms that supply them; they are usually operating at a different scale of marketing than us; and they have the ability to make big investments in technology. We completely understand the interest in getting to choose what goes in the box, but our set-up is designed to keep you on your toes. [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 | June 15, 2020

I had an opportunity to walk around the farm this morning just to take in the early summer crops and enjoy the mildness of the morning weather.  What made the walk really engaging was the patchwork of constantly changing crops and fields.  Here were some young eggplant — and there were some older ones.  Here were beds of melons, sunflowers, beans, corn and summer squash, next to an irrigated pasture soon to be home for chickens and cows. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 1, 2020

Baking With Whole Grains — 

It has been rewarding to grow a variety of grains at Full Belly Farm, some to be fed to our livestock and some to sell to our customers.  We grow wheat, corn and barley and sell them all in their whole kernel form as well as ground into flour.  We have a small stone mill and have been processing the whole grains into flour in small batches, as needed.  Freshly milled whole grains are known to be a great improvement over highly processed flours that have had their nutrients and fiber removed.  High levels of starchy processed food in the western diet have been linked to several chronic diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon-cancer. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 25, 2020

Cooking Out of the Box

One of the common reasons that people become members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is because they want to have access to healthy, fresh, organic produce.  I’ve always loved the beginning paragraph from the 1964 edition of the Joy of Cooking because it links good food and good health so well: [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 2, 2020

Our two pigs were moved into new green pasture over the weekend, which makes them very happy.  This is Winona — she is pregnant, soon to have piglets!  —  

What you ate last year…

The CSA  boxes reflect for our members what it taking place at the farm.  Long-time members know the patterns well.  Cold weather brings greens and roots.  Hot weather brings tomatoes and melons.  There are both similarities and changes from one year to the next and from one week to the next.  Sometimes we can surprise even our long-time members with something new, but many households have their favorite ways of eating every single item in the box.   [Read more…]

News From the Farm | February 3, 2020

It is lambing season at Full Belly!  About 25 lambs have been born and we expect that there will be over 100 by the time we are done.  The weather has been beautiful and so far all has gone smoothly.  The photos show the pregnant moms and some of the lambs that were born in the last week. 

Understanding the mysterious powers of soil is a fascination shared by many farmers.  Activities in the soil are hidden away and under-appreciated.  Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, for example go through transformations in the soil that are critical to plant and human nutrition. Organisms in the soil can extract nitrogen from the atmosphere, break down wastes and poisons, or sequester carbon thus mitigating climate change.  Soils with good structure and high organic matter can help to mitigate floods OR droughts, making healthy soil a high priority to all of us in California. The ways that soil organisms interact with plant roots to keep plants healthy is a process so choreographed and amazing that it is hard for scientists to unravel.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | January 27, 2020

A group of us were at the Ecological Farming Conference last week and many were involved in presentations on quite a range of subjects — Hannah and Dru Muller were facilitators of a day-long session on Women/Womxn in Food and Agriculture; Paul Muller participated in a series of workshops exploring reduced and targeted tillage as a way to minimize soil disturbance; Hannah Muller described her use of social media to tell the story of her love of flowers and floral arranging; Jenna Muller talked with attendees about the Environmental Mediation Center; and Judith Redmond moderated a panel on issues in national organic policy. Full Belly’s Harvest Manager, Jan Velilla, presented at a workshop posing the somewhat leading question:  “Biodiversity or Sterility: Which Ensures Safe Food?”  Reflections on the past, present and future of organic farming continued throughout, as well as deep discussions about challenges to the integrity of the organic label. African American, American Indian and a Quecha farmer shared their stories. All the Full Belly kids got to enjoy EcoFarm, as well.  [Read more…]