Monthly Archives: February 2017

Veggie Tips

Oranges: Please refrigerate your oranges.

Butternut Squash: We are coming to the end of our winter squash —  one of the few crops that we store, it was harvested a few months ago.  Butternut is tremendously versatile and packs a lot of nutrition.  It is the squash that is used by bakers for pumpkin pie.  It makes great soup.  It can be roasted.  Cook it, then cut it up for adding to a stir fry.  If you don’t want to use all of it at once, you can either just cut off what you need and put the rest in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, or cook it all and store it in the refrigerator, cooked.

Rutabagas: Delicious added to mashed potatoes.  Rutabagas and potatoes together also made a wonderfully silky textured and delicious soup.  Or they can be chopped up and roasted with your butternut squash.

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News From the Farm | February 27, 2017

We recently surveyed members who had had stopped getting their CSA box, asking them why they didn’t renew.  We were glad to find out that 87% of the 260 people who responded were happy with the box, and 76% said that they would consider renewing their membership.

Some members reported an overload of squash and potatoes in the winter, or too many tomatoes and peppers in the summer.  We understand this well, since we sometimes find ourselves wishing that we could make the CSA boxes more diverse at certain times of year.  We can imagine that this winter season for example, many members might be feeling like they are getting too much cabbage and squash.  Full Belly tries to grow as many different fruits and vegetables as we possibly can, but there are windows each year, when there are only a dozen-plus different things to choose from, so we alternate between them one week after the next. Understanding how weather, farming skill, and luck act together to influence the food that can be grown locally and sustainably is a constantly fascinating journey. We are committed to offering a CSA that is sourced just from Full Belly, and we understand that this can sometimes stretch the tolerance of our patient CSA members.

Another thing that we heard was that people sometimes received items that they didn’t know how to use or didn’t like. We know that folks now have many options for getting produce boxes that allow substitutions, and certainly the farmers market and grocery stores are full of variety. Of the non-renewing members that we surveyed, 18% said that they would renew if they could exclude specific items, and 21% said that the inability to substitute for things that they didn’t like was the reason why they didn’t renew. The logistics, for Full Belly, of making substitutions, are a little bit complicated, and we aren’t sure if we are going to be able to offer this option. We would like to point out that we have heard many stories of how members discovered a new way to use a vegetable that they thought they didn’t like, changing their mind forever!  We’re hopeful that these little discoveries continue to happen in your kitchens.

We do always learn from feedback, so don’t hesitate — Let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Blessings on your meals.

–Judith Redmond

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Capay Valley Almond Festival

Sunday, February 26th was a perfect day for the Capay-Valley-wide almond festival.  Almonds are the first big orchard crop to bloom every year.  The flowers are insect pollinated, but the native pollinators and honey bees do not like cold or wet weather!  Hopefully the bees were out in force on Sunday, along with all the visitors admiring the blossoms.  Full Belly Farmers plus scores of Capay Valley volunteers sold 430 pizzas made to order, plus all kinds of other sandwiches and drinks, all as a fundraiser for the Rumsey Improvement Association.

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Veggie Tips

Beets: Our recipe archives for beets  are full of many good ideas.

Napa Cabbage: From our archives you could try, Napa Cabbage Slaw, or make a sauce with some butter, salt, pepper or chile, sesame oil and a bit of vinegar.  Thicken the sauce with a little bit of flour if necessary, and then fry and steam the napa cabbage.   This is a really quick and delicious side dish, or topping for pasta.

Oranges: Please store your oranges in the refrigerator, thanks!

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News From the Farm | February 20, 2017

Rain in buckets; a raging tumultuous Cache Creek; soggy broccoli that is beginning to crown rot; soaked, matted sheep; croplands that fill, drain and fill again; saturated fields gasping for air; slogging vegetables picked and packed out of long muddy furrows; wiping saturated soil off of every carrot picked; rain this Monday morning with 2-3 inches more predicted this week… We are in the middle of a ‘100 year event’ with repeated atmospheric rivers overhead ending a 7-year drought in California.

Folks have been inquiring about how we are doing here on the farm and for the most part we are doing fine. Cache Creek, our unstable neighbor to the west has been churning with more water trucking by than we’ve seen in recent memory. It is a brown torrent contributing to a deepening inland sea that is swamping the Sacramento River basin. The Yolo Causeway, protecting Sacramento from flooding, is running full with the water and sediment collected from thousands of tributaries that are running brown and swift.  The farmland underneath this sea benefits from much of the silt and clay that is passing our farm in Cache Creek.

We are watching water volumes in the creek approach 20,000 cubic feet per second rush by in a timeless power of water and erosion and the literal movement of mountains to the sea. The dams and lakes above us are storing an additional 250,000 acre feet of water over this time last year—a drop in the bucket to the projected 150,000 cubic feet per second that will be released from Oroville and Shasta dams.

Those who watch climate over time tell us that we have had 80 years of relatively benign climate upon which we have built the assumptions of city landscapes, energy use, dam construction, housing design, farm management, road placement and the very structure of our food system. It is easy to forget that the extremes of California weather require a long memory so that the flood protection design is resilient, reflecting that California has a climate of widely variable wet and dry periods.

Two years ago at this time we had less than 2 inches of rain on the books—this year at the farm, we are heading toward 40 inches, but this is less than experienced in the 1861-62 floods when Los Angeles got more than 60 inches of rainfall, causing Leland Stanford to row a boat to the capital building for his inauguration as governor of California, and row back to the governor’s mansion to enter the building from the second story balcony.

That year, California experienced what some climatologists called an ‘ARkStorm’ a series of Atmospheric Rivers (AR’s) that turned central California into a wide inland sea. These Atmospheric Rivers have also been seen here in 1969 and 1986. In a paper evaluating risks from West Coast Winter storms the USGS wrote:

“The atmospheric mechanisms behind the storms of 1861-62 are unknown; however, the storms were likely the result of an intense atmospheric river, or a series of atmospheric rivers, striking the U.S. West Coast. With the right preconditions, just one intense atmospheric river hitting the Sierra Nevada mountain range east of Sacramento could bring devastation to the Central Valley of California. An independent panel wrote in October 2007 to California’s Department of Water Resources, ‘California’s Central Valley faces significant flood risks. Many experts feel that the Central Valley is the next big disaster waiting to happen. This fast-growing region in the country’s most populous state, the Central Valley encompasses the floodplains of two major rivers—the Sacramento and the San Joaquin—as well as additional rivers and tributaries that drain the Sierra Nevada. Expanding urban centers lie in floodplains where flooding could result in extensive loss of life and billions in damages.’”

It is a sobering moment and mud on carrots dwarfs the potential risks if the rain keeps coming and the storms turn warm and melt Sierra snowpack. We certainly keep an eye on the hills above us, realizing that we are simply subject to a much larger power of nature that humbles us and challenges our short-term assumptions of stability and regularity.

At the farm we are trying to find innovative ways to keep planting in the short breaks in the weather, doing things that we have not done before like transplanting into old tomato beds without working soil; planting some things by hand; and spraying for brown rot in our peaches and almonds whenever we can get into the orchards.

We know that this soggy mess shall pass. By this time of year, normal during the drought has been that we have usually planted much of our spring crop, 15 acres of potatoes, many more flowers, and the vegetables that will be in your March and April boxes. Our crew is usually working long days of picking, weeding and other field work creating paychecks that cover their bills. We watch our cash flow decrease from a lack of things to pick, while there is an estimated 50,000 lbs of fall potatoes in the ground that need to be harvested, waiting for enough dry weather to get out there and harvest. This year’s continued wet is the reason why some of your cabbage has been peeled back, carrots are getting pale, oranges need to be eaten in a week, and some of your broccoli may not have kept as well.

We are unable to look forward, but as I sit here this early Monday morning and hear the squalls of rain hit our roof, I give thanks for the rain (for one should never curse rain in California) and understand that history has lessons that need to be heeded. Folks give our flood control engineers a hard time, but it is difficult to argue that our projects be designed and built for the 100 or 200-year event- because that kind of planning would challenge the very design of so much of what we take for granted.

We may well be in the middle of ARkStorm, hoping that you will ride out this new adventure and be patient with us and know that the contents of your boxes reflect the challenges of too much mud and a farm that is plenty wringing wet.

–Paul Muller

Greenhouse is flooding!

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Full Belly Farm will be closed on Thursday in Support of the Day Without Immigrants

 

 

Almost all of Full Belly’s staff chose to participate in the strike planned for Thursday February 16, in which immigrants across the country will bring attention to the importance of their work in our economy. The Day without Immigrants calls for immigrants and those who stand in unity with them, not to attend work, open their businesses or spend money.

 

A majority (not all) of Full Belly’s staff are immigrants or first generation immigrants. Full Belly, of course, welcomes employees of all religions and a rainbow of ethnic backgrounds. When we discovered how widespread among our staff, was the support for the protest, we were proud to support it.

 

The winter is a time of year when work and thus take-home pay is short, so Full Belly will gift the entire staff partial pay to compensate them for lost work on this day. We will not be taking orders from any of our regular store and restaurant customers.

 

We have picked products (on Wednesday) for our Thursday market, and will be attending that market in San Rafael. In addition, we will be packing CSA boxes for our Friday customers (usually packed on Thursday), but only because those customers have paid in advance.

 

Thank you to all of our friends, CSA members and customers for your understanding. We hope, through this symbolic effort, to show our support for immigrant communities around the world.

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Veggie Tips

Collards: Collards are a hearty green that will stand up well to cooking for a little longer. Sauté it and then add liquid so that it can soften up.  With the cold, wet weather, many of our greens haven’t been growing much, so the leaves are small, but still tasty.

Bok Choy/Joi Choy:  Full Belly grows a number of Asian greens, and uses them somewhat interchangeably.  The stems are tender and crisp and part of the charm of some Asian dishes that use these greens is the contrast between the crisper stem and the well cooked, soft outer leaves.  Ginger, garlic and sesame oil pair well with these greens

Tokyo Turnips: These delicate young turnips can be eaten raw or very lightly steamed.  They are mild and best cooked very simply.

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