Theme: rural living

News From the Farm | September 21, 2020

It sometimes feels like our lives have been put on hold as we navigate the current reality. Our friends are more separate, our children tethered close to home, we are using our computer screens to assess body language and connect in ways that aren’t real and human. It is not a healthy development and we need to redesign. Now may be a time of opportunity.

My daughter, Hallie and my sister Marianne are grade school teachers faced with the task of trying to create effective on-line learning for their students. They witness that it doesn’t work to have young students spend hours looking at a computer screen. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 28, 2019

This family worked hard at Full Belly all spring and summer, and just left for Mexico  — 

We are still in the thick of our olive harvest but were not able to continue because of the power outages that started on Saturday 10/26.  We take our olives directly to the mill for pressing because that is the way to get the best oil, but the Seka Hills Olive Mill will be without power and has told us that their doors will be shut, right in the middle of prime time. Another dimension of the problem is that stores have placed veggie orders, but when we arrive with the deliveries we are turned away because there is no power.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 2, 2019

Seems like we may have a great crop of pomegranates, come October and November.

We recently wrote a letter to Governor Newson’s office about two climate change bills introduced into the legislature that have very little funding for agriculture. The bills would enact a bond act in 2020 that the Governor’s office is developing.  Here are excerpts from our letter:

I am thankful that increased attention is being given to prevention of and restoration after drought, wildfires and floods. I am a farm owner in Yolo County California, farming along Cache Creek in the Capay Valley.  My farm and home have been directly impacted in the last decade by significant wildfires (County Fire, 2018 and Sand Fire, 2019), frightening flooding of Cache Creek, and the impacts of the most recent California drought.  [Read more…]

News From the Farm | June 3, 2019

Pancho spreading compost, with hills and clouds in the background –

There’s a Farmer in Everyone –

Five days of every Full Belly work week, a group of lucky Full Belly farmers – mostly the interns, the owners and the families of owners – all get to sit down for a quick midday meal that is prepared in advance by one of the interns.  For these lunches, there can be 14 people plus kids, and even a few unplanned guests, that pour through the kitchen door at noon, looking for something to eat.  Cooking for that many people can be intimidating no matter what, but when you only have a few hours to get everything ready and your cooking experience is limited, it can be a tall order. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | May 27, 2019

Peaches are on the way!  

Last week it seemed like the entire Capay Valley (including a lot of kids) turned out for a ribbon cutting at the new Esparto Park and Aquatic Center. Public officials from Sacramento and Woodland (the County seat) were actively mingling as well, marking this as a truly noteworthy moment in the life of this little rural town. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 17, 2018

There are times when a week of conversations point to those ideas that are in need of reckoning. This past week the conversation has centered around climate change and lest you roll your eyes and check the dinner in the oven, bear with me. During the past week, conversations here on the farm spiked about adaptation and how we might act to do our small piece to contribute to solutions. As evidence mounts as to the impacts resulting from the course that we are tracking, it becomes clear that we need to commit to actions that will reverse our role in elevating levels of greenhouse gasses. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 10, 2018

This weekend I want to share a few thoughts about farmland under threat because many of us from Full Belly Farm will be at the annual Yolo Land Trust event, called “Day in the Country,” on Sunday 9/9. We have been involved in this event for many years now with Full Belly owner Paul Muller doing a spectacular job of organizing several dozen restaurants, breweries, wineries and farms to attend and serve their favorite Yolo County-sourced dish to the guests.  The event is an important fundraiser for the Land Trust. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | October 30, 2017

After a decade of dedicated planning, community organizing and fundraising, the Capay Valley is looking forward to construction of a Park and Aquatic Center in Esparto, the small town at the mouth of the Valley. A multitude of individuals and organizations donated countless hours to secure funding from various agencies so that the Capay Valley will soon be home to a swimming pool, soccer field and baseball/softball field. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | September 11, 2017

A Day in the Country

Full Belly is very lucky to be surrounded by open space, riparian habitat and native grasslands.  Our County is relatively rural and agricultural, producing processing tomatoes, rice, alfalfa hay, wine grapes, almonds and walnuts.  But not just agricultural — the County is also home to a significant number of rare and threatened plants and animals.

The predominance of open space and agriculture in this region is really not an accident — it’s the result of the efforts over time of people who live here working together to build organizations that support habitat conservation and viable business opportunities for agriculture. [Read more…]

News From the Farm | August 28, 2017

Why We Farm

Our neighbor Elvira just published a book telling the stories of 15 Capay Valley farms in all their diversity — truck farmers, plant breeders, farms of 3000 acres or 1-acre, conventional and organic. Full Belly is included. 

The challenges faced by the farms and the innovations that they invent make an inspiring set of vignettes. Many of the farmers learned a lot on the job and leaned a lot on advice and assistance from the Capay Valley community of farms. Each of the stories illustrates a solution to the puzzle of putting people, land, and production agriculture together in a way that is sustainable. There’s Charlie Opper, owner of Cache Creek Lavender Farm, who says, “I found a niche and focused on it.”  There’s Grumpy Goats Farm, producing olive oil, and named Grumpy Goats in reference to the two owners “stubbornly butting heads as they make decisions.”  There’s Annie Hehner who says, “When farming by yourself, you have a lot of time to think.  So I think about how I can help build community.”

Find out more about the book, Why We Farm – Farmers’ stories of growing our food and sustaining their businesses, by Elvira Dibrigit here.

“The fight to save family farms isn’t just about farmers. It’s about making sure that there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It’s about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street. It’s about a better America.” — Willie Nelson

News from the Farm | February 2, 2015

“In the next 20 years, 400 million acres of farmland will change hands.” Severine von Tscharner Fleming was speaking to a gathering of young and not so young farmers and farm allies in Capay Valley at the Guinda Grange Hall. She came equipped with facts, stories, models and strategies to share – all with a purpose to ensure land access to a rising generation of agriculturalists.

In the Capay Valley, we are fortunate to have a growing community of young and beginning farmers and ranchers. The challenges they face to build a successful career are numerous, but perhaps the biggest is reliable access to land. Nationwide, the price of farmland has risen dramatically in recent years, more than tripling in value from 2003 to 2013. What’s happening to farmland in the U.S. is part of a larger phenomenon also occurring in developing countries. [Read more…]

News from the Farm | September 15, 2014

Shifting Seasons

The farm is shifting and easing into the start of a fall season. As days shorten, so do our work hours – now starting at 7 am and finishing by 5. The crops that we cultivate and seeds planted reflect the fall and winter approach. Andrew and Jan are planting fall greens, carrots, beets and broccoli. Potatoes are emerging and we hurry them along to size up and set tubers before any frost determines their lifespan. Gone for 2014 are melons and stone fruits. Tomatoes are beginning to show their decline as they head toward the end of a long and fruitful season.

Thoreau wrote “Love each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each.” Indeed, the conversation about seasonality is a deep and significant historical awareness that we may be remembering, in turn enriching and connecting all of us to the ‘food shed’ that supplies our communities. We may be moving to the shared responsibility that is central to a vibrant and healthy food system – where those who eat are responsible for those who produce, and those who produce know their farm patrons, acting as stewards of the resources that support those patrons.  [Read more…]