Monthly Archives: January 2016

FarmShares Week of January 25, 2016

Bushel

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce — Good Humus Produce • Baby Red Russian Kale, Gold Chard & Oregano — Riverdog Farm •    Plus everything in the Peck

Peck

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Red Spring Onions & Tokyo Turnips — Full Belly Farm • Pummelo — Lamb Valley Farm • Pink Lady Apples* — Manas Ranch • Broccoli & Rutabagas — Riverdog Farm •

Bite

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Red Oak Leaf Lettuce — Good Humus Produce • Pummelo — Lamb Valley Farm • Pink Lady Apples* — Manas Ranch • Broccoli — Riverdog Farm •

Bushel contains listed items plus Peck itemsem> All contents are [...]

News From the Farm | January 25, 2016

We know that CSA members have lots of choices when they decide where to get their fruits and vegetables. Not only are there lots of stores that carry organic produce, but there are lots of CSAs and CSA-type services to choose from: Companies that will do your shopping for you; web sites that offer home delivery of tasty local treats; and produce boxes that can be customized in every which way. 

Your Full Belly box is filled with produce that comes from our farm and nowhere else. We used to get winter oranges from a neighbor, but now we have our own orange orchard and for years, we have grown everything that we put in the box. So those of you that get a weekly box for a whole year may really have a special perspective on what it means to “eat local,” you have a sense of how the seasons affect the harvest, and you have a direct, visceral relationship with Full Belly.

At the end of each year, I like to review the previous year’s box contents, thinking back on how the seasons unfolded, and how the weather and markets and our management affected the diet of our members. For our long-time members, this is a bit of year-in-review. For the new members, it gives you a hint of what to expect.

We always try to change up the box contents from week-to-week as much as possible, at the same time as we try to include several items that we think of as dinner staples. This year I counted 25 different types of vegetables (not including greens), 9 different types of greens, 14 different types of fruit, and 9 different types of herbs that our hypothetical CSA member found in their box if they got all 48 of the CSA boxes that we offered in 2015. This way of looking at the box actually understates the diversity of the experience because, for example, I grouped those baskets of cherry tomatoes (remember them?) together with the big heirloom tomatoes, as one type of vegetable, or – another example – I counted all the different types of winter squash (acorn, buttercup, butternut, honeynut, kabocha, kuri, and sugar pie) as one type of vegetable. 

We had fun with the fruit last year. As some of you may remember, 2015 was not a good year for stone fruit like peaches because there weren’t enough chilling hours during the winter to produce a strong bloom and fruit set. But we have been planting all kinds of fun and more unusual fruits – so you should have tasted a few Asian pears, guavas, jujubes and even a week of quince. There was one week of figs, but figs are going to figure more strongly in future summer and fall boxes – so if you like figs, stick with us, we have more of them coming your way! We put pomegranates in for 6 weeks this year and learned that for some of our members 6 pomegranates a year was way too many, while others gave rave reviews to the pomegranates. The fruit staples as in every year, were oranges – 10 winter weeks – and melons/watermelons which we put in for 12 weeks of summer boxes last year.

Greens are a big part of the Full Belly CSA diet in winter, spring and fall. Chard, dino kale, arugula, collards, red Russian kale and the Asian vegetables like bok choi all made multiple appearances. As far as I’m concerned, any time is a good time for greens, with their immune-system boosters and antioxidants. Like the greens, many of the vegetables in the box are part of dinner for three seasons: Lettuce or salad mix are in the box pretty steadily for 5 months.

We also give you a lot of alliums, viewing them as a good beginning to so many different recipes – dry onions, spring onions, green garlic, dried garlic and leeks don’t really drop out except for a few weeks in the summer. And believe it or not, if you were a really consistent Full Belly CSA diner, you actually may have helped to consume 11 cabbages in 2015!!

Rounding out the fruit, herbs and greens are all the other seasonal vegetables. In the summer last year there was a steady diet of tomatoes, peppers, green beans and eggplants with a few cucumbers mixed in. The fall and winter brought lots of carrots and winter squash with beets, broccoli, and Tokyo turnips mixed in. There were only three weeks of rutabagas last year, despite those members to whom the rutabaga is such a memorably difficult character that even one or two weeks would have seemed like an eternity.

There are lot of veggies on the list (kohlrabi, fennel, radishes) that I haven’t mentioned, but nonetheless, you probably ate some last year and will be eating them again this year. There were a few vegetables that are usually more prominent, but for various reasons didn’t do well or we didn’t grow much in 2015 (asparagus, strawberries, corn). All in all, I think it was a good mix. We encourage our members to think it over and let us know (if you haven’t already) what you think about the overall mix. Figuring out how to use new vegetables may not always be easy, but many people have told us over the 23 years we have been doing this, that it is very rewarding to try!

— Judith Redmond

The post News From the Farm | January 25, 2016 appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

FarmShares Week of January 18, 2016

Bushel

Dino Kale, Dragon Tongue Radish, Fennel & Thyme — Riverdog Farm •    Plus everything in the Peck

Peck

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Green Garlic & Spinach — Full Belly Farm • Meyer Lemons — Lamb Valley Farm • Pink Lady Apples* — Manas Ranch • Scarlet Queen Turnips & Yellow Carrots — Riverdog Farm •

Bite

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Green Garlic & Spinach — Full Belly Farm • Meyer Lemons — Lamb Valley Farm • Pink Lady Apples* — Manas Ranch •

Bushel contains listed items plus Peck itemsem> All contents are certified organic unless otherwise specified with an [...]

News From the Farm | January 18, 2016

The gentle rains of the past two weeks soaked deeply and filled the soil of our farm as if it were a 400-acre vessel. The soil itself is probably the most under-appreciated reservoir in the water cycle. We often think of water in terms of ‘blue water’, or stored water – rivers, reservoirs, groundwater or lakes that can be tapped for irrigation and drinking through California’s long dry summers. 

The under-appreciated part of the water cycle is sometimes called the ‘green water cycle’ of infiltration, evaporation, transpiration, plant-water efficiency, and the micro cycle of water that is dew or fog capture by growing plants and trees covering the soil surface.

This year, the Rocky Fire and the Valley Fire in our upper watershed torched near 140,000 acres. Much of the damage was in the upper Cache Creek Watershed. The western border of our farm is on Cache Creek. We are feeling more optimistic that we have dodged a major bullet. Heavy early rains would have meant intense flooding and the potential for heavy silt loads traveling down our creek. Living next to the creek is like having the best neighbor who can turn treacherous with sustained heavy rainfall. The rainfall in December and this early part of the year has allowed the regeneration of grasses and a soft green cover over the burned areas – a living buffer against the potential impacts of heavy rainfall. 

The lessons of protecting soil and the potential harvest of rainfall through living cover crops is being lost by the developers of thousands of acres of new orchards in the Sacramento Valley area. The ‘fashion’ of these developments – perceived beauty and order – is a practice by the developers of what is euphemistically known as ‘chemical mowing.’ Many of these techniques come directly from the southern San Joaquin valley, following developers from an extremely arid area, bringing their practices north toward water. They plant trees after soil is ripped deep and all vestiges of life other than the new trees are destroyed with herbicides. What is left is bare ground – with trees of course – and bare edges, herbicided clean. This is now seen by some as good farming practices for orchard development.

These orchardists calculate that water applied responsibly with micro irrigation is the pathway to water use efficiency for the maximum crop yield. Lost here is the fact that Yolo, Sacramento, Sutter, Yuba, Placer, Solano, Glenn and other northern California counties, where farmers and landlords are smitten with the nut-planting bug, average near 30 inches of rainfall. That rainfall is like money in the bank if it is harvested. Gentle rains may percolate deep, but rains that come hard seal bare soil and run off the land, becoming the orchard’s loss and someone else’s problem.

These new orchards are managing for crop yield – that is what they get paid for – but what is lost is soil health and the ecological potential of farms. The deeper potential for harvesting much more than the crop is forgotten because often it is simpler to think in a paradigm that can control variables. Clean is easy – focus on the trees. Nutrients can be added by dissolving them in the water. Hawks, turkeys, ground squirrels, snakes, and lizards are not crops, and more likely are pests. Flowers and flowering plants are good for insect ecology and honeybees, but we can import hives. Soil fertility is not a cycle of the potential harvest of carbon, nitrogen and microbial life with cover crops – oil is cheap, so fertilizers are likewise cheap and easy to apply.  These new orchardists have lost touch with the responsibilities of long-term ecological stewardship. 

For many, the freedom to buy land equates with the freedom to put in as deep a well as they can afford and the freedom to manage their land as they see fit. I have a hard time criticizing farmers, and there are many farmers who are great stewards. Yet, freedom implies restraint and a wide look at the responsibilities of ownership.

John Milton defined and described freedom in a way that may link practices, water, stewardship and ownership. “To be free,” he wrote,“ is precisely the same thing as to be pious, wise, just, and temperate, careful of one’s own, abstinent from what is another’s and thence in fine, magnanimous and brave.” The power of capital, and its freedom to do what one likes on one’s property will always be constrained by the biological, ecological and social responsibilities of stewarding land and water for the long term. With the pursuit of profit, the responsibilities of land stewardship will not be secondary – as time will be the judge.

–Paul Muller

The post News From the Farm | January 18, 2016 appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

FarmShares Week of January 11, 2016

Bushel

Green Cabbage — Full Belly Farm • Cilantro, Gold Top Turnips & Mixed Braising Greens — Riverdog Farm •    Plus everything in the Peck

Peck

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Nantes Carrots, Red Beets & Red Spring Onions — Full Belly Farm • Dancy Tangerines — Guru Ram Das Orchards • Bok Choy — Riverdog Farm • Broccoleaf — Say Hay Farm •

Bite

Navel Oranges — Blue Heron Farm • Nantes Carrots & Red Spring Onions — Full Belly Farm • Dancy Tangerines — Guru Ram Das Orchards • Bok Choy — Riverdog Farm •

Bushel contains listed items plus Peck itemsem> All contents [...]