Monthly Archives: March 2019

News From the Farm

Open Farm Day is Saturday April 6th ––

We would be so happy if our CSA members were able to come and visit us on April 6th for a day to walk around the farm, visit our newborn lambs, picnic on the grass and taste the delicious pizza that we bake in our wood-fired pizza oven. The farm is open for visitors from 10:30 to 3:30.  Please leave your dogs (except for service dogs of course) at home.  The farm owners are looking forward to meeting you!

We Are All Connected

Social media, international trade and global travel make the world interconnected and interdependent.  Perhaps nothing brings that home more starkly than global climate chaos and environmental breakdown which will affect all of us as well as future generations living on this planet.  There’s a science behind the idea of six degrees of separation which says that there are only six social connections between one of us and the people in Mozambique who are right now living through the catastrophe of Cyclone Idai.  The lives we lead and resource consumption levels in the U.S. are lavish compared to those in Mozambique, and perhaps that inequality is the reason for the culpability that some of us feel in terms of climate change when storms wreak havoc in places with limited infrastructure to cope.

On the other hand, infrastructure sometimes means nothing to Mother Nature, and it is as if she is teaching us that lesson in the Missouri River basin where the flooding and losses are huge and growing. Back to the Basics may be the take home… Dairy owners in California are already feeling the shortage of grain shipments usually arriving from Nebraska where thousands of tons of soybean and corn silage have been lost.  I make note of the shortage of grain in California only to bring home once more the point that we are all connected.  The suffering in the Midwest, many miles from California, is going to impact all of us.

While not all symptoms of a changing climate are as severe as those seen this month, the record does show that we will face increased droughts, wetter conditions, inconsistent growing seasons and hotter wildfires. The record-setting floods that have occurred in recent weeks in the Midwest and in southeast Africa drive home the need for mitigation and adaptation strategies that will help all of us respond to a changing climate.  Those strategies will include agriculture because farmers can play a big role in sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But farmers will also need to start thinking more about coping mechanisms and farming practices that create more resilient farms.  California is showing leadership in these areas, implementing innovative strategies to address climate change. Some of those strategies may be expensive in the short term, but business as usual is not acceptable. Our hearts go out to the people trying to cope with the floods. We can only hope and pray that respite and rebuilding come soon.  

—Judith Redmond

The post News From the Farm appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

News From the Farm

Thinking about peaches  ––  

Oh Spring! You have descended upon us this past week, gracing field, hillside, and human spirit with the seduction of warmth and days that stretch out like a cat after a long slumber. This year you have been away longer than normal – the cold and rain of January, February and early March now all but forgotten with your bursting on the scene. The trees have been patiently awaiting your beckoning call.  Our peaches and plums are finally blooming nearly a month late. Apricots and pears are swelling…

Everywhere on the farm there are blooms. Unharvested mustard, cabbage and turnip plants send their spike of a brilliant yellow flower upward. Arugula blooms a showy white and pink.  The flowers become a feast for a whole array of flying insects. Hungry bees, lady beetles, lacewings, bumblebees and so many others show up to our table to be fed and bulk up after a long and cold winter. Their diet here is varied –a little almond pollen mixed with the yellow of mustard, or the pink of a pea, some showy white plum nectar rounded off with pollen and nectar from common weeds – groundsel, chicory, plantain or shepherd’s purse. We try to provide a healthy smorgasbord for a hungry insect.

Dear Spring, we are now finding ourselves fully engaged with you. There is much to do – planting, transplanting, weeding, picking and getting soil ready for the next round of crops – so much to catch up on. We are shaking off the sleepiness of long nights and cranking up the energy. Forget the calendar, straighten up, ready the guest bedroom, feel the energy of the band striking up, the dance is starting, for spring has arrived!

The gifts of life and renewal grace our farm. Dru and I are proud grandparents once again because Daughter Hallie and Husband Diego have added a nine-pound Pablo to their home this past week. Hale, hearty, round faced and with a full head of jet-black hair, Pablo was born at home, a remarkable and beautiful miracle. He joins the 140 lambs, a new litter of 12 pigs and an array of youngsters in the neighborhood.  We do our work to make the world bountiful for this next group of stewards, connecting them to tangible beauty in a diverse well-tended farm.

We all have only so many springs in our lives.  To be seduced is to become open, receptive and available, brimming with hope.  It is less to do with the calendar and more with the surge of energy and purpose.  To be a farmer who plants and tends the earth is to be one with this rhythm. 

There are those who feel that the future of agriculture will be determined by the application of technology to the fields.  Visions of autonomous tractors being commanded by farmers at their computer terminals juggling seed genetics and fertilizers in programs that are precise – no judgement errors, no applying too much of this additive or herbicide in a responsible mix of horsepower, technology and tools. Farmers like myself would be liberated from the drudgery of listening to those bees ramp up, or getting a feel for the time when the soil is exactly right preparing it to plant. The 15 or so mixes of cover crop seed that I planted last fall were all subject to the unique winter of 2018/2019. We got a chance this year to witness the resilience of each combination and store that information away in a body of experience. In the future, a drone would no doubt be able to do an assay of estimated nitrogen and carbon sequestration and interface that with a program for planting our tomatoes. Maybe…  

While there is much that we will learn as new tools become available for measurement and problem solving, a shovelful of soil in the springtime can show history, biology, process, decay or life. Fifty worms per square foot translates to a million per acre and a churning of soil and castings that becomes like livestock grazing our subsoil. We simply need to feed them and house them and they jump to the beckoning of spring. It is a bit imprecise, and wildly complex, but if we acknowledge the capacities of living soil where each teaspoon is home to a billion microorganisms, we may not need the fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, or other tools of ‘precision’ farming.

I think that the beauty of our association with this farm lies in the journey to get into a deeper relationship. Our tenure here requires us to look a little more closely with humility and awe. We may change our thinking about our farming practices as a program made of distinct unrelated disciplines and more as a whole in which we are profoundly entangled. We are beginning to understand that the food we choose is our culture in more ways than one. How produce is grown may determine its contribution to our health in both a nutrient sense and in a biological sense. You share this microbial connection to our farm, to our management of our soils and to the beautiful complexity of the layers of life on this land. At the same time how we choose to steward our land is at the heart of our culture as a people here for but a short time – handing off our legacy on the land to young Clemantine, Hazel or Pablo.

My friend, Will Allen, a fine farmer from Cedar Circle Farm related a notion given to him by his father. He said that, “the day that you are the best farmer you will ever be is the day you die.” There is so much to learn about this vibrant planet in our dynamic set of dynamic relationships – each year different, each piece that is near eternal, lasting long after we are gone. Celebrate the radiant push and energy of spring and enjoy its seduction. This season offers lessons and moments designed to cultivate our sense of awe. Grab your shovel, a good deal of mulch, a pack of seeds and scratch out a place, for spring is calling.

—Paul Muller

Tomato seedlings moving from heated greenhouse to “hardening off” greenhouse in preparation for transplanting later this month.

The post News From the Farm appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

News From the Farm

Thinking about peaches  ––  

Oh Spring! You have descended upon us this past week, gracing field, hillside, and human spirit with the seduction of warmth and days that stretch out like a cat after a long slumber. This year you have been away longer than normal – the cold and rain of January, February and early March now all but forgotten with your bursting on the scene. The trees have been patiently awaiting your beckoning call.  Our peaches and plums are finally blooming nearly a month late. Apricots and pears are swelling…

Everywhere on the farm there are blooms. Unharvested mustard, cabbage and turnip plants send their spike of a brilliant yellow flower upward. Arugula blooms a showy white and pink.  The flowers become a feast for a whole array of flying insects. Hungry bees, lady beetles, lacewings, bumblebees and so many others show up to our table to be fed and bulk up after a long and cold winter. Their diet here is varied –a little almond pollen mixed with the yellow of mustard, or the pink of a pea, some showy white plum nectar rounded off with pollen and nectar from common weeds – groundsel, chicory, plantain or shepherd’s purse. We try to provide a healthy smorgasbord for a hungry insect.

Dear Spring, we are now finding ourselves fully engaged with you. There is much to do – planting, transplanting, weeding, picking and getting soil ready for the next round of crops – so much to catch up on. We are shaking off the sleepiness of long nights and cranking up the energy. Forget the calendar, straighten up, ready the guest bedroom, feel the energy of the band striking up, the dance is starting, for spring has arrived!

The gifts of life and renewal grace our farm. Dru and I are proud grandparents once again because Daughter Hallie and Husband Diego have added a nine-pound Pablo to their home this past week. Hale, hearty, round faced and with a full head of jet-black hair, Pablo was born at home, a remarkable and beautiful miracle. He joins the 140 lambs, a new litter of 12 pigs and an array of youngsters in the neighborhood.  We do our work to make the world bountiful for this next group of stewards, connecting them to tangible beauty in a diverse well-tended farm.

We all have only so many springs in our lives.  To be seduced is to become open, receptive and available, brimming with hope.  It is less to do with the calendar and more with the surge of energy and purpose.  To be a farmer who plants and tends the earth is to be one with this rhythm. 

There are those who feel that the future of agriculture will be determined by the application of technology to the fields.  Visions of autonomous tractors being commanded by farmers at their computer terminals juggling seed genetics and fertilizers in programs that are precise – no judgement errors, no applying too much of this additive or herbicide in a responsible mix of horsepower, technology and tools. Farmers like myself would be liberated from the drudgery of listening to those bees ramp up, or getting a feel for the time when the soil is exactly right preparing it to plant. The 15 or so mixes of cover crop seed that I planted last fall were all subject to the unique winter of 2018/2019. We got a chance this year to witness the resilience of each combination and store that information away in a body of experience. In the future, a drone would no doubt be able to do an assay of estimated nitrogen and carbon sequestration and interface that with a program for planting our tomatoes. Maybe…  

While there is much that we will learn as new tools become available for measurement and problem solving, a shovelful of soil in the springtime can show history, biology, process, decay or life. Fifty worms per square foot translates to a million per acre and a churning of soil and castings that becomes like livestock grazing our subsoil. We simply need to feed them and house them and they jump to the beckoning of spring. It is a bit imprecise, and wildly complex, but if we acknowledge the capacities of living soil where each teaspoon is home to a billion microorganisms, we may not need the fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, or other tools of ‘precision’ farming.

I think that the beauty of our association with this farm lies in the journey to get into a deeper relationship. Our tenure here requires us to look a little more closely with humility and awe. We may change our thinking about our farming practices as a program made of distinct unrelated disciplines and more as a whole in which we are profoundly entangled. We are beginning to understand that the food we choose is our culture in more ways than one. How produce is grown may determine its contribution to our health in both a nutrient sense and in a biological sense. You share this microbial connection to our farm, to our management of our soils and to the beautiful complexity of the layers of life on this land. At the same time how we choose to steward our land is at the heart of our culture as a people here for but a short time – handing off our legacy on the land to young Clemantine, Hazel or Pablo.

My friend, Will Allen, a fine farmer from Cedar Circle Farm related a notion given to him by his father. He said that, “the day that you are the best farmer you will ever be is the day you die.” There is so much to learn about this vibrant planet in our dynamic set of dynamic relationships – each year different, each piece that is near eternal, lasting long after we are gone. Celebrate the radiant push and energy of spring and enjoy its seduction. This season offers lessons and moments designed to cultivate our sense of awe. Grab your shovel, a good deal of mulch, a pack of seeds and scratch out a place, for spring is calling.

—Paul Muller

Tomato seedlings moving from heated greenhouse to “hardening off” greenhouse in preparation for transplanting later this month.

The post News From the Farm appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

News From the Farm

Shhhh… don’t let anyone know but I love my job. I love our farm, I love all the people I work with, I love going to the farmers markets, I feel blessed to be able to help each day to make this farm productive and beautiful. I feel good about what I do everyday. I believe in my life and work each morning when I awake and even more so when I fall asleep. Strange, I know, but true.

I think the thing I love most about my farming tasks is the fact that I get to grow flowers. Each one of us here at the farm has specific tasks that we get to do each day; repairing equipment, planting corn, CSA communications, baking bread, making lunches for tour groups, seeding tomatoes in the greenhouse, milking the cow, heading up the harvest with a crew of 50… the list could go on forever in just one day. I am lucky to be able to head up the flower production here at the farm, which started as a tiny garden out in the front of my house about 34 years ago.  We used to bunch flowers at midnight in my kitchen on Friday nights before the market and feel so proud of those 30 bunches! Things slowly grew as the flowers continued to fly off the table each week and we added more land dedicated to flowers. Over the course of many years we are now growing about 12 acres of flowers for customers all over Northern California. 

This weekend I am pouring over seed catalogs. I have them spread all over the kitchen table, mostly small seed companies that I have learned to trust and depend, on over the years of learning about flower growing. This is the optimistic time of year and always a joyous job – more appleblossom snapdragons? more orange calendulas? new varieties of cosmos?  Such tough decisions! We grow about 50 different varieties of flowers that are planted throughout the year – from Amaranths to Zinnias – a definite trial by error when we first started. Now that we have things dialed in a bit better our schedule has been narrowed down; a big planting happens in October for all of the spring flowers, another in March and April and then another big push in June for all of the late summer and fall flowers. Right now we are very busy in the green house planting all the seeds that will be going in as soon as the ground dries out. Weather is always a farmers biggest unknown and flower growing is no exception – we are all getting a little antsy this year to see the sun and get planting!

We have gone from picking 30 bunches of flowers once a week selling only at the farmers market to having a crew of 6 amazing women helping to harvest over 1,000 bunches a day in the peak of the season. These bunches now go to over thirty stores, four wholesalers and farmers markets in the area all of whom really appreciate flowers that are grown locally.  We are so happy to be able to offer an alternative to conventionally grown flowers that are primarily grown thousands of miles away and often heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides and fertilizers. The flowers grown at Full Belly Farm are all certified organic and are a testament to the fact that beautiful flowers can indeed be grown without using anything toxic.

You, as CSA members, are invited to join our flower “CSA” which runs from April 1 through September 30. Every week we will deliver a lovely bunch of certified organic flowers to you  – the bouquets will be picked the day before your delivery so that they can be as fresh as can be. Some weeks there will be mixed bouquets and other weeks there will be stems of all one variety. You can be assured that they are local and grown with lots of love!

–Dru Rivers 

Jan, our Farm Manager, is so amazing to work with!

Join Our CSA Flower Season

Flowers are $8.50 per bunch (plus sales tax).  You can add the whole season of 26 weeks (from April through September) and get a discount to $8 per bunch ($208 plus sales tax). You can order flowers by emailing us.

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News From the Farm

At a time like this, when the weather is in the news, Californians may have a hard time holding their own in a weather conversation with the rest of the country.  I was talking to a friend who lives in Okoboji Iowa and they have been shoveling snow for the entire month of February.  I think she said that they have 2 feet of snow on the ground at the moment.  They would love it if they had temperatures in the 40s and 50s like we do here…

So in my every-other-week conversations with a group of farm activists mostly from the midwest and eastern states, I always hesitate to bring up California weather, even though it is one of the most active topics of Full Belly Farm discussion, with all the Full Bellies getting their information from at least a few different sources and reporting on it to each other in great detail.  I was surprisingly touched when last week, before our conference call started, someone opened up with “You’ve been seeing a little weather even out there in California, haven’t you…” 

Living right on Cache Creek as we do, last week really was an eye opener.  We woke up on Wednesday morning to see fences downed from water racing through, trees toppled over, and the Creek raging and swollen with water and debris.  The Creek both rose and swelled, with its new banks far beyond their normal lines.  There was water flowing fast across fields that normally seem quite remote from the possibility of flooding.  In some places the creek took out large swaths of land along the banks, reducing the size of fields.  In other places, some of that topsoil will be redeposited onto creekside land but the majority of it was washed out to the sea.

It has also been interesting to watch how the creek changes after the height of the flooding.  On the first day after it crested, the water receded quite quickly, but in the days since then, water has been flowing out of the hills on either side, keeping the water level high and the flow impressively fast.  

This February has been a pretty incredible month in the Sierra Nevada as well, where a phenomenal amount of snow has fallen over the course of just a few weeks.  Some of the highest peaks in the southern Sierra are nearing record snowfall totals for the month of February (though not, interestingly, for the season to date) and quite a bit more is expected.  This is excellent news for drought-stressed conifers, for California’s reservoirs and for the summer irrigation season.  

Watching the weather from the safety of high ground has been an exciting and awe-inspiring experience — it kind of puts us all in our place to watch Cache Creek out of control.  Our hearts go out to folks along the Russian and Napa Rivers where the flooding was much more serious.  And it’s true, now we don’t have to be quite as shy when we’re in those weather conversations with the snow-packed easterners.

—Judith Redmond

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