Theme: melons

News From the Farm | August 30, 2021

At some point, every CSA member will open their box to find something that’s not what they were expecting. Perhaps they’ve never seen or eaten a kohlrabi, Paloma eggplant, or persimmon. Or it could be because the size or shape of the produce is not what they’re used to seeing.

Produce in a CSA box can be larger, smaller, or differently shaped because CSAs are not governed by all of the strict rules and expectations of the wholesale produce world about size and appearance. It makes sense for the industry to have a set of norms and accompanying vocabulary to help farmers, wholesalers, and customers communicate what we (the farms) have and make sure that buyers are getting what they expect. Some of that language describes size or appearance and you’ve probably seen some of this: Size A, Extra Fancy, No 1, etc. Most produce also has an expected pack size, usually a combination of weight and count that is expected in each box. There is a recognition of variation, but each order is expected to be fairly uniform and having to follow certain grades and pack sizes leaves out a lot of what we, and other farms, produce. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 19, 2021

The news from the farm from the past week is: eggplants and melons. And more eggplant and more melons. While our tomatoes are growing frustratingly slowly (we hope to have them in the boxes soon) these two crops are thriving right now and thus are worth diving into, accompanied by some photos of our crew at work.


How do you harvest eggplants? With clippers, and ideally with long sleeves and gloves too since they can have thorns. Each picker has a 5-gallon bucket that they fill up and empty into the macro bins on the back of the tractor, separated by type. Right now, the eggplant plants are small enough for our tall harvest tractor to drive over them, but soon enough, they’ll be too tall to fit under, eventually growing up to four feet. Soon, the tractor will move over to one of the rows of basil we intercrop between every few eggplant rows. The rows of basil leave plenty of clearance for the tractor and attract pollinators because we leave sections to go to flower.

[Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 31, 2017

At this time of year fruit, flowers and vegetables are brought in from our fields in wave upon wave, 6 days of the week, all day long. Bin trailers unload melons and sunflowers, four bins at a time. Harvest tractors, stacked high with boxes of eggplant are unloaded onto pallets destined for the ice water in the packing shed where they will be sorted, culled, boxed and stored in the cooler. Pick-up trucks pull in to unload cherry tomatoes stack by stack.  The crews come in from picking, their clothes soaked through with sweat. At the end of the day, weary and ready to put their feet up, the crew leaders write down a long list of numbers so that we know how much they will pick and we should try to sell for the next day.  

This week, it’s the melons that are peaking: Hercules, Galia, Goddess, Charantais, Piel de Sapo, Sharlynn, Canary, Honeydew, Honeyloup, Snow Leopard, Haogan, San Juan… That last one, the San Juan, is a large melon with a luscious smooth texture and orange flesh.  The other day, when I went to pick out my morning melon, Rye handed me a heirloom variety of Crenshaw, another large melon with orange flesh.  I generally make my morning melons into smoothies, but this one had such a wonderful texture and delicious flavor that I just had to eat it straight. I wondered to myself how many other people in the whole wide world had experienced the pleasure of such a fabulous melon as that one.  The ancient varieties of melon were large compared to the ones that we sell today.  But now, people don’t want to buy really large melons, even though their flavors are sublime.  Last year we did some trials of melons from Afghanistan (home to the wild ancestors of todays melons) and all of them were large.  Those in the know will tell you that the finest melons of all in modern times still come from Afghanistan and Iran. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 22, 2016

Recently one of our members wrote to us saying, “I only know the names of Cantaloupe, Honeydew and Watermelon.  We get SO MANY MORE than that. I would really like to know more about them.”

Full Belly doesn’t grow the standard cantaloupe.  We are focussed more on specialty melons. For example, in terms of orange-fleshed melons, some of our varieties are Goddess (a lot like the better-known Ambrosia), Charentais (a French, wonderfully aromatic cantaloupe with smooth skin), Honeyloupe (a cross between Honeydew and Cantaloupe) and San Juan (a bit larger than the others, football-shaped.) Some of these melons are “netted” – with rough skin (Goddess and San Juan) and others are smooth-skinned (Charentais and Honeyloupe). [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 9, 2016

On May 5th we planted some special melon seeds.  We were experimenting with varieties that we haven’t grown here before, hoping to find out how they will do under our conditions.  

Thirteen of the varieties came from Uzbekistan, collected by a friend who studies them.  Uzbekistan is something of a melon mecca. Melons are believed to have been grown there for 2000 years by farmers who are very proud of their tradition growing melons of unique taste and quality. Some of these varieties are already grown in California to a very limited degree, but mostly they are unknown here. Many of the Uzbek melons are large by U.S. standards, but extremely sweet and aromatic.

We also planted some melons that are new varieties from Vitalis Organic Seeds.  Vitalis is doing trials of their new varieties only on a few farms — in Bakersfield, Woodland and at Full Belly.  They had 12 varieties to try – new types of Galia, Charentais and Canary. [Read more…]