Theme: profile

News from the Farm | January 23, 2023

At any given time, there are probably five or six interns living and working on the farm. Interns commit to at least a year working here and over the farm’s history there have been at least 300 interns. While here, they do a little bit of everything, and are key members of our farmers market teams. After they leave the farm, it really depends, but some of them do start farms of their own. This past week, I caught up with three former interns to find out what they’re up to. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 28, 2022

Grandpa Joe hands out fresh milk to a happy customer at Story Road Drive-in Dairy

Good day to you all,

A warm north wind flowed down through the valley this Thanksgiving. As a river flows between its banks, the wind wandered between mountain ranges that cradle the land we care for. Trees now shimmer orange and undo their summer leaves, helped by the wind’s gentle fingers. An early frost painted the valley with the most spectacular fall colors I can remember. Deep amber, burnt orange, sweet reds and yellows all aglow. A serene exhale. A wave, goodbye for now, and in a mere blink of an eye, the whole landscape seems to be drifting off under winter’s spell. Early rains, of whose moisture ran deep into the soil, now bear their gift: a green glimmer beneath the gray foothills and pastures. Those rains washed away the dust and whispered songs of hope to all farms across the West. As we long for more, we must give thanks for the opening remarks they’ve given on behalf of this rainy season. It wasn’t just the dust they washed away, but the urgency of summer. Immediately following the first rain and cold of the year, there is a palpable heave felt for miles. A pressure valve released. We have time! Time to release our own leaves; successes, failures, milestones…memories. Winter’s gift to us farmers is this time, and the patience to digest and put to rest all of the leaves. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving marks the home stretch for us – after this week, there are two more weeks before our winter break.

Every culture seems to have a harvest holiday like Thanksgiving, a time to sit down with friends and family and appreciate the land’s bounty. Not all are as complicated as ours though; the Thanksgiving story is based on a lot of myths and lies about American history. It is possible to observe Thanksgiving while acknowledging the long history of colonization, exploitation, and erasure, and the continued struggles and triumphs of Native people. One place to start is learning about the real history and your area’s Indigenous peoples and languages. And there are many other resources and ideas out there, including supporting Native organizations and movements.

One thing I’ve incorporated into my Thanksgiving is thinking about who and what I’m thankful for. It’s a long list, including all of the people who grow, harvest, and process the food that I eat- those that I know, and those who I don’t. At least when it comes to my job, the CSA, there’re some people who really stand out. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | August 29, 2022

The CSA truly is a team effort, as is almost everything we do here. Everyone’s work has an impact on the many boxes we send out each week, whether they spend most of their time in the field, in the orchards, in the shop, with the animals, or on tractors. And (almost) everyone ends up packing CSA boxes at some point; even the farm kids have been helping out recently!

That being said, there are a few individuals that play a larger and more direct impact on our CSA members’ experience and we’ve had several big changes in the core CSA team this year. Judith and Becky both retired at the end of 2021, which has changed how the office operates, and not just regarding the CSA. And now we find ourselves rapidly approaching another change in the team – the departure of one of our delivery drivers, David, who will be moving to Boston for his wife’s job. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | April 18, 2022

This week’s Easter celebration involved Sunday brunch and farm walks, then an afternoon family dinner featuring my 97-year-old father, Joe Muller (in the picture above) and lots of stories of life in Switzerland in the 1930’s and 40’s, and of the journey to the states after the war to a life of farming in a wildly open and abundant California.

Ask him a question and the memories and stories are clearly recalled: walking cows into the Alps from his home in Altdorf, a journey of more than 20 miles made each spring when snow cleared and the grass turned verdant and lush, his first potato crop as a teenager, and great tales of the mischievous pranks that he and his brothers were well known for in their small Swiss town. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | November 15, 2021

Dear Gentle Readers,

On a very special shelf in the Full Belly Farm office sit almost two-dozen binders that hold the dedicated archives of this newsletter. Coined The Beet in the late nineties the binders are a treasure trove of over 1,200 articles, interviews, opinion pieces, political sentiments, children’s essays, and guest editorials. One person has been responsible for the editing, proofreading, gentle deadline reminders and 90% of the written words over those past 25 years and yet not ONE article has captured the essence of who she is and her vital role here at the farm as partner, mentor and friend. So, this article is dedicated to Judith Redmond and not a moment too soon, for she will be stepping down in a month’s time from her daily duties here at the farm and opening some exciting new doors for herself in 2022.

Judith at this fall’s Grateful Harvest Gala

[Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 29, 2021

Flowers that Hannah made for Cheryl’s ceremony  —  

Spring time is absolutely wonderful in the Capay Valley – the mountains rise above us on either side, green with annual grasses, the orchards are in flower and the weather is mild.  Not a day goes by on the farm without tractors preparing beds for planting and seeds going into the ground. As flowers burst forth everywhere, even our crops respond to the lengthening days and warm sunshine by rushing to flower.   We call it ‘bolting’ when the carrots or cabbages abandon leafy growth and start growing flower stems, an apt term as the pace quickens in plants and humans both. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | November 9, 2020


Becky and Elaine – Full Belly CSA Team  —  

The success of any project here at the Farm reflects the attention to detail and hard work of staff.  When CSA members place orders and request changes in their schedule we do our best to respond.  Every morning we let the harvest crews know what to harvest from the fields so that they can fill the CSA boxes for the next day. We keep the web site updated and keep track of all the add-on orders. We help members who are late to pick up their boxes or who have questions about pick-up logistics.  We answer many questions from the public. We are making well over 1,700 boxes every week these days and we love it!  It is our goal to provide the best possible service to our CSA members in hopes that they enjoy every aspect of the CSA experience. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 19, 2020

Arrayed on the table are 6 butternut, 1 delicata (a squirrel ate the big one), 3 kabocha (1 other became a pie and a main course), and 19 acorn squashes.  All are volunteers from Full Belly squash seeds in the compost (bin on the right) that grew when compost was strewn over the garden beds.  Thank you, Full Belly, for providing us not just with winter squash, but with a Squash Dynasty!  Oh, behind the table?  That’s Paul, who tends the garden and never plants squash. (Story & photo by member Helen Gerken)

Shortly before Full Belly Farm became part of my life I was the Executive Director of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).  Even after I became a co-owner of Full Belly – before I was forced to admit that the farm was pretty much a 100-percent kind of lifestyle – I tried to do both — split the week between Full Belly and then CAFF. [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 22, 2020

Ben driving out to the field to harvest the last planting of cabbage. –

Voices from the Fields –

No one knows this farm better than our crew members.  Passionate farmers who spend their years tending Full Belly fields – every decision they make creates the high standard produce you find in your CSA box, farmers market, and local grocery store.  I’m constantly inspired when I see the way Isobel, for example, who is the leader of the flower crew, picks every flower with such intention and care.  It’s not just me who sees this, but others are inspired by our crew as well – including their own kids.

I first met Ben Hernandez this spring as I was interviewing new camp counselors for our summer camp program.  Everyone on the farm raved about him, “Oh, everyone loves Ben,” “Wait, you’re going to hire Ben? But I want him to work with me!”  I understood the stories immediately when we got together for his interview one day after work.  At the time, he was a senior at Esparto High School, finishing up his last month of classes.  I asked him what his plans were since school was nearly done. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | February 25, 2019

Almond Festival wood-fired pizza at the Rumsey Hall last Sunday –

I’ve been an intern at Full Belly for over one Full Belly year. Today I’m going to take this opportunity to share with you a sneak peek into what it means to be an intern at this very unique place, as I reflect on my experience and what I’ve learned.

First I’ll begin with some numbers. In my time here as an intern I’ve seen, met, lived with and/or been a part of: [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 14, 2018

I wanted to learn what work was when I started as an official employee at Full Belly Farm eight years ago. Not work at a desk for lots of money, but work with my hands for myself. This kind of work is very romantic. To fall in love with toil. To trust in the abilities of my mind and hands, and to have faith in it all.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | July 3, 2017

There are some fertile stories that ripened this past week: The 114-degree heat that blistered the farm; Whole Food’s meeting the Amazon piranha; California’s listing of Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer) as a carcinogen; the many tweets and twitterings around health care…. all captivating stories. However I am more compelled to write about a passing that like many other moments in time requires us to stop and reflect on our own humanity.

This past Saturday a good Farmer, responsible steward and friend of Full Belly passed away after a prolonged battle with Multiple Myeloma. Nigel Walker, founder of Eatwell Farm, a 105-acre farm in Dixon, was a forward thinker and creative force in the organic farming community. Since its inception in 1993, Eatwell Farm has been a model farm in its beauty and complexity, integrating rotations of lavender, clover, vegetables, livestock and fruit with a vibrant CSA and farmers market community. 

Nigel was respected as an innovator. He forged his own path in energy use by powering his farm with used vegetable oil and energy efficient design. He was an innovator in crop rotation by utilizing legumes, chickens, permanent edges and vegetable crops to create a healthy farm eco-system that wasn’t supported with the addition of imported nutrients.  He nurtured community with a farm open to his customers as a place to visit, pick lavender or strawberries, camp, or make tomato sauce. At farmers market, Eatwell was known for quality heirloom tomatoes, wonderful eggs and a philosophy of responsible stewardship. One couldn’t buy his vegetables without getting a good dose of philosophy and farming reality. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | April 10, 2017

We spent this past week hustling to take advantage of a dry-enough period before the series of late-week storms dropped nearly 2 inches of rain. On Thursday the work of planting tomatoes, melons, peppers, corn, beans and other summer crops stopped as the generous clouds opened up and drenched the farm. The blessing of rain soaked our asparagus beds and loosened the soil above the spears and helped them to break through. Carrots, lettuce, beets, potatoes and all of the spring crops revel in the liveliness of rainwater. Trees are shooting out with an energy and lushness that is a remarkable contrast with the past couple of years.  The farm feels exuberant —humming with a vibration of life that explodes when Springtime arrives with it’s moisture, warmth and myriad of life forms that shake off a long winter and go to work….

We have been thinking about the cycles of life and death this past week. Andrew’s (one of the 4 original Full Belly owners) father, Martin Brait passed away on April 1. Marty was a great friend to the farm and was a delightful, creative, enthusiastic human being who visited us from his home in Philadelphia with his wife Marsha over the years. Who would think that clothier couple-haberdashers by trade- would hatch a farmer son? Marty, embraced the life that Andrew chose many years ago and was a part of a parental rooting club that each of the 4 original partners shared. The success of Full Belly is very definitely linked to our ancestors – parents – that had a common trait: the willingness to embrace and encourage creativity, responsibility, and social commitment to tending a healthy planet. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 20, 2017

March Birthdays

My Grandpa Bond was born well over a hundred years ago, on March 20 1902, a Spring baby.  I often think of him as one of the people who introduced me to growing vegetables.  He became an avid gardener during World War II because he lived in the industrial town of Birmingham England, and the war had disrupted the supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables.  To address the shortage, my grandfather threw himself into his vegetable garden — he had access to an allotment (the English term for a plot of land rented out for growing gardens). In fact, my grandfather eventually took over several allotments with his fruit trees and vegetables and never gave them up, even when the bombs stopped falling.  When he visited us in California, he and I worked together in a small garden in rocky soil, that while not producing a great harvest of vegetables, resulted in my life-long gratitude and fond memories of precious times together.

There have been many other happy birthdays to enjoy in March —  the popping up of flowers, both horticultural and wild all around us, and of course the Spring Equinox which we will observe on Monday March 20th.  Neighbors, friends and relatives, so many seem to have been born in March!  One very special, ‘round’ birthday, the 60th, should be mentioned, that of our beloved Dru Rivers, one of Full Belly’s founders and owners, who generously shared her March birthday with her daughter Hallie, 31 years ago.  This year, our goat Sweet Pea, was even inspired by the birthday energy.  Our lunch on March 15th was interrupted with the momentous news that Sweet Pea had just given birth to quadruplets.  Within minutes they were trying to get up onto their long legs, sniffing around their mom for milk.

–Judith Redmond

News From the Farm | October 31, 2016

We have been enjoying rain and the forecast for unsettled weather has created a marked difference to the start of this fall rainy season compared to the past 5 years when there was no fall rainy season. We have surpassed 3 inches here, creating a hue of soft green emerging from the straw-yellow hills. All edges have come alive as warm temperatures double plant growth in a great start to Fall.

Fall work includes tomato fields to clean up, cover crops to plant, hoeing and cultivation of our greens and winter crops, hard squash in the fields to be picked up, pruning, early grasses to till in ahead of November grain planting, and repairs to equipment that is limping toward the year-end finish line.

This rain is a blessing that requires a bit of adjustment on our part. The more that it rains, the more the calculus changes. Little or no rain means that we adjust with pumped water, providing the moisture needed to grow crops. A lot of rain creates muddy fields where the crops that we harvest are carried to the edges. Picking slows down, tractors stop and raingear-clad crews carry 5 lbs of mud on each boot.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 19, 2016

My husband and I went to a wedding reception last night to celebrate the marriage of Edgar Jacobo and Martha Carrillo.  Edgar is the eldest son of Bonifacio and Maria Joaquina who are both team leaders at our farm.  Bonifacio has worked at Full Belly since 1988 and Joaquina has been here since 1993.  Bonifacio is the youngest of 10 siblings, born and raised in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico.  Like most of his brothers, Bonifacio started working on farms in Mexico when he was 12 years old, usually 7 days a week, saving money so that he could take the bus to school.

Most of Bonifacio’s siblings have also worked at Full Belly from time-to-time, and several of them are working now.  His elder brother Celso is running our cherry tomato crew.  His brother Sergio drives trucks to the city. Their wives also work at the farm.  Their father, Señor Bonifacio worked here, and still comes back every summer, despite our reluctance to see him working, given his many years of service — it’s time for him to enjoy some rest with his extended family!  And it is a large extended family, with many aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, so many that we need to draw a family tree to tease it all out. Probably more than 1/3 of our crew is somehow related to the Jacobo family. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 8, 2016

One of the questions frequently asked by visitors to Full Belly Farm is how the farmers ever chose to go into farming.  The question makes sense because there aren’t a lot of farmers in the U.S. (less than 2% of the population), and the best way to learn to farm is through the experience of growing up on a farm, or working on a farm. In fact, four of the kids that were born and grew up on Full Belly Farm have decided to stay and farm here – carrying on a tradition that goes back in time for many generations on their father’s side.

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did grow a lot of vegetables when I was young, and much of the inspiration for my vegetable gardens came from my English grandfather, who grew food for his family in Birmingham England, in the allotments that were conceived as a way for needy families to grow their own food.  The English allotments were a lot like community gardens that some towns here in the U.S. have – or even more like the Victory Gardens that we have had in the U.S. in the past to increase food production in wartime. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | March 21, 2016

Periodically in this newsletter, we share stories from our employees.  This week we talked with one of our long-time employees, Jose Gomez Imperial.

Jose was born and grew up in the state of Sinaloa in a tiny town called Ejido Vinaterias, which is about 20 minutes outside of a larger town called Los Mochis.  Los Mochis was the town that people from Ejido Vinaterias went when they needed supplies, and when you ask Jose where he is from, he will often say, ‘Los Mochis’.

Ejido Vinaterias has grown quite a bit, so maybe there is more going on there now, but Jose hasn’t been back since 2007, so he isn’t too sure.  He grew up with his mother and 2 brothers – a family of boys. [Read more…]