Jujubes* — Evergreen Farm • Arugula — Full Belly Farm • Fennel & Red Bell Peppers — Riverdog Farm • Plus everything in the PeckPeck
Baby Bok Choy & Nantes Carrots — Capay Organic • Sugar Pie Pumpkin — Durst Organic Growers • Chinese Eggplant, Gold Chard & New Girl Tomatoes — Full Belly Farm • Scarlet Queen Turnips — Riverdog Farm •Bite
Baby Bok Choy & Nantes Carrots — Capay Organic • Jujubes* — Evergreen Farm • Arugula — Full Belly Farm • Red Bell Peppers — Riverdog [...]
We are Tidy!!
We are tidying this week in preparation for our big day here on the farm. Yesterday we had a crew of 40 volunteers cleaning up, stuffing scarecrows with new wheat straw, designing and building a 500-bale straw fort, erecting the tipi, painting signs, making tamales, and spreading 25 tons of mulch to settle dust and make the farmyard neat and beautiful. This week, along with our regular pick, pack, weeding and planting schedule – we are ready-ing and steady-ing for Hoes Down.
After a long and dry summer, where days were pretty intense and a layer of dust had settled over and in about everything, a half inch of rain this past week washed and polished what was looking pretty drab. One can just see the trees and grass exhale a collective sigh of relief as the cleansing moisture wiped our world clean. It was a baptism, a purification and a regeneration. We welcomed and celebrated the transition as one of the marks of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.
I know that you all might be inundated with Hoes Down rallying calls from our end, so bear with me, because each farm member has a different take on what the day means and why it is important for our farm and rural community. At the inception more than 25 years ago, Dru and her friends Annie Main and Caroline Scott made dried flower wreaths and then needed a way to sell them. Since then, Hoes Down was an end of the summer celebration to bring you to the farm to dance and shout with us, building a bridge between urban and rural by getting you to come up here and put your feet on the farm and get a feel for our world.
Dru was the heart of the event for many years as it became an essential fundraiser for the community, providing much needed funds for groups as diverse as The Ecological Farming Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, 4-H, the local library, and the land trust – nonprofits that did the good work of making this rural area healthy and diverse. Over the 26 years of the event, it has generated more than $1,000,000 in funds that have helped to fund the ongoing work of these groups.
From my point of view, the day is an opportunity to share this beautiful spot – our farm – with you. We do farm tours, workshops, hands-on demonstrations of everything from compost making to tree pruning. Our cow is milked, sheep shorn and the wool combed carded and spun – examples of timeless relationships with nature’s generosity that – universally – rural people live each day. Wendell Berry said recently “Farmers, whether they know or acknowledge it, are directly dependent on nature. Farmers who have livestock are more likely to understand this than are farmers who are merely raising crops. But farming, good or bad, can only take place in nature. Farmers who are aware of this pay attention to the natural circumstances and so learn about it.”
If you come to our farm to celebrate with us, you might catch a glimmer of our day-to-day. The farm tours are designed as opportunities to ask questions and relate the new insights that we are chasing as we try to practice our farming with a wider view of our deep commitment to the stewardship of this place. Your footsteps or dance vibrations resonate through the earth and tickle the very souls of the earthworms and critters that are underfoot. The children who brave the tunnels of the hay fort or hang on to the handle of the flying fox are doing it by their own willpower- within the supportive tribal embrace of others who are doing the same.
Hoes Down is a day for children to adventure; it is a day for adults to dance and enjoy; it is a day of great food, meeting farmers, and dancing with our farmworkers. It is a day for all of us to give thanks and revel in another summer’s accomplishments. It is celebration that will mark the cultural shift to a healthier more connected food system. I see people eating local and organic for many reasons, one being simply that we celebrate our seasons, and another that we dance harder or sleep under the stars, or walk, even for a short day, the fields that grow our food.
We invite you to put your work-hoe down, take a day, and celebrate with us – it enriches us and all of the creatures of this place. Hoping to see you Saturday, October 4th.
Red Chard — Capay Organic • New Girl Tomatoes — Full Belly Farm • Thyme & Tokyo Turnips — Riverdog Farm • Plus everything in the PeckPeck
Red Flame Grapes — Capay Canyon Ranch • Red Beets — Capay Organic • Spaghetti Squash — Durst Organic Growers • Genovese Basil — Good Humus Produce • Corno di Toro Peppers, Curly Kale & French Fingerling Potatoes — Riverdog Farm •Bite
Red Flame Grapes — Capay Canyon Ranch • Red Chard — Capay Organic • New Girl [...]
Faces from the Fields
Maria Machado has worked at Full Belly Farm for five years, sometimes packing tomatoes and at other times picking fruits and vegetables. Her husband Sergio works at the farm as well, on the irrigation crew. Last June, Maria was put in charge of her own picking crew. We wanted to tell a little bit of her story to our CSA members since Maria is an important part of the chain of many hands and many people’s dedicated efforts, that result in the CSA boxes that you enjoy every week.
On a recent afternoon when Maria’s crew was picking padron peppers we sat and talked for a few minutes. The weather was a bit cooler and more comfortable than it has been in weeks past. From where we sat, when I reminded Maria that most of the people getting CSA boxes live in the city, and may never have worked on a farm, we couldn’t help looking around and feeling happy to see the hills on either side of us, the trees providing shade to sit under, and the sounds of the wind moving across the field.
Maria understands a little bit of English, but like many members of our crew, she speaks Spanish at home and at work. Her day begins in the Full Belly office while the other members of her crew get the truck clean and ready with supplies for the day. In the office she gets a list showing the things that her crew needs to pick. Sometimes several crews join together. Over the summer, Maria’s crew has been picking cherry tomatoes, green beans, summer squash and peppers, like the padron peppers that she was picking the day that we talked.
Since taking the position as a crew leader, Maria feels like she has shouldered a lot of new responsibilities. She feels accountable for the quality of what is picked and the good work of the people on her crew. There is always a push to finish the day on time, and this can require a lot of coordination between the crew leaders working in different fields on the farm.
Most crews like to pick some crops more than others. Maria likes harvesting beans and cherry tomatoes. She also really enjoyed packing tomatoes in the packing shed in previous years, and reports that her favorite tomatoes are the heirlooms, especially the Marvel Stripes. She likes to cook some type of tender meat with heirloom tomatoes and green beans, on top of the stove. The juice from the tomatoes steams the beans right there together in the pot.
Before getting her job at Full Belly, Maria worked at a cosmetics factory in Arizona, in a 40-hour per week job that was based inside all day. Her job at Full Belly is for 60 hours a week during the busy season. At first, when she came to Full Belly, she wasn’t used to the longer hours, but now she’s accustomed to the work on the farm. Before working in Arizona, she worked on a farm in Mexico picking chiles and potatoes, but that farm wasn’t organic. Maria doesn’t think that the chemicals being used on that farm affected her, but she does feel that the workers who were spraying the chemicals were affected, and overall prefers to work on an organic farm.
Maria grew up in Sinaloa, a state on the western side of Mexico. She graduated from high school, but it was difficult to find good work in Sinaloa. There are many professionals with advanced degrees and licenses, like teachers and lawyers who are unable to find work in their profession. Even when both Maria and her husband Sergio were working full-time, Maria says that the pay wasn’t enough to cover daily necessities. When she first moved to the United States she thought about her home a lot, but after her mother died and her father remarried, she doesn’t feel the pull as strongly as she used to.
Maria has three kids – two girls and one boy, aged 12, 6 and 4. All the kids go to school while Maria and her husband Sergio are at work. There is an after school program that the kids attend until their parents can pick them up at the end of the day. So the kids have a long day just like their parents. When they get home, they rest for awhile, prepare dinner and the kids do homework. Everyone has to get to bed early because the family lives almost an hour away from Full Belly Farm.
Maria’s kids are ambitious and smart. Her oldest daughter wants to be a doctor. She tells Maria that she wants to work at Full Belly first, but Maria tells her she must study instead. The middle son wants to be a fireman and the youngest wants to be a teacher.
Before going back to work with her crew, Maria said that she hopes CSA members enjoy the products “They are good quality, and they’re organic. All of the Full Belly workers eat the products from the farm, just like the CSA members.”
– Judith Redmond
Maria shown here picking cherry tomatoes
Jujubes* — Evergreen Farm • Roma Tomatoes & Sage — Full Belly Farm • Fairtime Peaches — Riverdog Farm • Plus everything in the PeckPeck
Red Flame Grapes — Capay Canyon Ranch • Nantes Carrots & Shishito Peppers — Capay Organic • Butternut Squash — Durst Organic Growers • Jimmy Nardello Peppers — Full Belly Farm • Globe Eggplant & Yellow Onions — Riverdog Farm •Bite
Red Flame Grapes — Capay Canyon Ranch • Nantes Carrots — Capay Organic • Jimmy Nardello Peppers & Roma Tomatoes — Full [...]
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.
The ‘farm to fork’ events taking place around the nation acknowledge the unique character of regional farms, the products that they grow and the seasons of that production. These events are celebratory in nature – touching food, the art of its presentation and production, or the complexity of good winemaking – and the humanity of sharing civil conversation around more joyous and participatory food system. In turn, farmers are re-thinking the possibilities of stretching their crop mix diversify production – with real benefits. For example, providing diversified cash flow or longer- term employment of their workers, leading to stable lives for those who work our fields and pick our crops.
For farmers, farm workers, and rural communities, this support makes a significant new investment in the long chain of interdependent pieces that help to create greater prosperity for rural peoples. The conversation deepens – becoming clear that having healthy and nutritious food depends upon supporting farms who have healthy soil management practices, feeding the soil food web in turn feeding the myriad of interdependent life forms in soil that make a healthy plant. The foods you choose to purchase may be related to the bird life, or insect ecology or plant diversity supported and residing around farm fields. John Muir said that to touch one piece is to begin knowing the universe of interdependent and linked relationships surrounding that piece.
The heart of a sustainable food system relies upon new investments and collaborations to re–generate opportunities for new entrepreneurs in production agriculture. It will call for new thinking about what is returned to our soil systems – as we harvest the abundance of a season – regenerating the capacity of that soil to continue making new crops. It may call for new thinking about new ways to hold land for beginning farmers to get a start and address the issues of access to land. It may require a broader set of rewards and support for farmers who sequester more carbon in their soils or who create biological diversity in their farm design supporting more levels of life on their farm.
It will require our land grant universities to re-invest in fundamental low cost systems allowing farms to harvest more of what is indigenous to each farm – powered by sunlight and water cycles; or the potentials of plants to fix nitrogen and accumulate carbon; or the benefit of building soils that are rich in organic matter that make a limited water resources go further; or considering the biological life of vibrant soil; or understanding the power of fairly compensated farm laborers.
As our seasons change we appreciate your support and commitment to our farm. We look to be transparent in our farm practices – growing our crops in a responsible manner, while affecting the renewal of our rural community – long chains of relationships – making the foods we grow part of a universe of connections. It is a breathtaking beauty that requires pause and a turn of awareness as we celebrate and enjoy the blessings of abundance and changing seasons.
Please join us on the first weekend in October for the ultimate celebration of the shifting seasons – the 27th Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. We would be thrilled to have you here. For more information, visit hoesdown.org.
Thank you so much for supporting our farm.
– Paul Muller