All posts by Hallie

This Week’s CSA Box

Veggie Tips

Basil – Basil is a sign that summer is here! Remember that basil should not go in the refrigerator. Instead, keep it on the counter, out of the sun, in a glass of water (like a bouquet of flowers) and loosely cover it with a plastic bag. Change the water regularly and you will have good looking basil for at least two weeks. You can also make pesto and freeze it. Basil goes well with a lot of produce, especially zucchini. See our Recipe of the Week.

 

Cabbage – Cabbage stores well, so it’s not a problem to keep it for another week if this week isn’t feeling like a cabbage. But it also pairs well with other items in your box this week. Like with zucchini and basil in summer rolls or potatoes. See our note below about cabbage.

 

Carrots – The last carrots of spring! Carrots aren’t the easiest to grow and harvest, but they’re so good. We’re a big fan of snacking on them raw, but you can add them to other dishes, raw or cooked. Like this soba noodle dish with zucchini. See our Recipe of the Week.

 

Peaches – No recipes needed, right? Store on the counter if possible, but they can be put in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process, if necessary. You can speed up the ripening by keeping them in the paper bag – this traps the ethylene gas that they naturally emit.

 

Garlic – The garlic is now fully cured and dried and can sit out on the counter. No refrigeration needed. See our Recipe of the Week. 

 

Potatoes – Remember to store your new potatoes in the refrigerator. See our Recipe of the Week.

 

Zucchini – Another summer staple has arrived! And it’s one of the most versatile summer staples – it’s good raw, grilled, sautéed, roasted, and more and can always turn into a loaf of zucchini bread! Zucchini can really absorb a lot of flavors, but also can be tasty when prepared simply, especially with basil. We have many great recipes on our website and this website has a great collection of zucchini recipes. Squash should be stored in the refrigerator, ideally in a bag. Store zucchini in the fridge, whole, dry and unwashed in a plastic or paper bag. The key to keeping zucchini fresh for longer is to make sure it stays as dry as possible. Many folks recommend keeping one end of the bag open to encourage air circulation and keeping them in the crisper drawer. See our Recipe of the Week.

 

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News From the Farm | March 15, 2021

Along with 20 other farms, our farm got to participate in a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic last week.  The clinic was organized by Yolo County and took place on a nearby farm.  In all, 338 farmworkers got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (so we don’t need to go back) and over 200 people returned to get their second Pfizer vaccine after a clinic at the same farm a couple of weeks ago.  By the end of this month, we can rest assured that 90% of our crew is protected.

Yolo County announced its intention to vaccinate frontline workers on February 15th and started pop-up clinics on farms a few days later. These clinics are part of a landmark effort in California to bring the vaccine directly to the fields.  Reports of similar pop-up clinics have come from Riverside, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Marin, and small farmworker towns in Tulare and Fresno Counties.

These clinics are noteworthy for taking place in usually underserved areas like Dinuba, Earlimart and Porterville.  Farmworkers are at high risk of getting COVID, and outbreaks have crippled the work force on farms across the country.  Between Mid-July and November of last year, 13% of farmworkers in the Salinas Valley tested positive in comparison to only 5% of Californians in general.   Latino food and ag workers age 18 to 65 in CA had a nearly 60% increase in mortality during 2020 compared with pre-pandemic times — that’s a very high risk factor.

Farmworkers often live in crowded, multigenerational houses, eat together in dining halls,  travel to work and out to the fields in crowded vans, or work in bustling packing houses.  They can have spotty internet access and may be wary of registering for government programs at large vaccination sites.  Yet these workers never missed a beat when the shelter in place was announced — they are the first step in the chain that gets food to everyone’s table. For all of these reasons, the prioritization of farm workers and the on-farm clinics to deliver those vaccines make a tremendous amount of sense.  When was the last time that you saw farmworkers get preferential treatment for anything?

California is ahead of the curve in terms of farm worker vaccines.  In states like Georgia, Texas, New York and Florida, farmworkers are not yet in the priority groups authorized to receive the shots.  Although the CDC recommended that farm workers should be prioritized along with other essential workers, the CDC also allowed states to set their own priorities and some states are requiring documentation of legal residency which is a good way to disqualify many farm workers. In my view, if ever there was a clear need to set aside the requirement for documentation, this is the time.

With the shortage of vaccines (which hopefully is going to become a thing of the past) and the limitations in logistical preparation, health officials everywhere are grappling with questions of equity.  In California, where 40% of the vaccines are supposed to be directed to disadvantaged areas, there are still inequities.  By February 19th, 24% of African Americans over the age of 65 in Los Angeles had received a vaccine, compared to 43% of white residents in the same age bracket. One of our farmers market crew members, an 80-year old African American without a car or smart phone, needed a COVID test a few months ago.  He walked all the way to a test site and was turned away because he didn’t have an appointment. In that same time frame, all of the other members of the farmers market crew (all white) were easily able to get tested.

The cruelties of this disease are everywhere to see. One of our employees is now 65 years old. She was able to get an appointment for a vaccine the day before her 65th birthday (they were hard to get and that was the day that was open). When she arrived, she was turned away because she was not yet 65. Tragically, she since has developed COVID. When an employee gets COVID, it has a significant and wide-reaching impact. Co-workers have to be quarantined and tested. Tests need to be timed correctly with respect to exposure to the sick individual. Housing has to be found for people who don’t want to take the chance of infecting others in their homes. The work of all the quarantined people has to be covered by others. The sick person has to be monitored and cared for. Anxieties need to be assuaged and questions need to be answered. 

We have treated Full Belly like a bubble with respect to COVID.  We have restricted access to visitors and severely limited social activities.  Within our Full Belly bubble, there are smaller bubbles — the kitchen bubble, the packing shed bubble, the intern bubble, the office bubble, and several other crew bubbles.  We have tried to keep the bubbles separate, but they do tend to bump into each other. The same is true out on planet Earth.  None of us are really in bubbles that can be kept isolated from the rest of  humanity.

After taking so many precautions for a year, it will be some time before we are ready to lift too many of the restrictions, despite the vaccinations.  We intend to stay the course that we have established, maybe with a few small adjustments. We are hugely grateful that our crew has been vaccinated, and hope that all others across the globe, who want to be vaccinated, will be able to get it done soon.  Meanwhile we hope that you stay healthy and eat your veggies!

Blessings on your meals,

Judith Redmond

The post News From the Farm | March 15, 2021 appeared first on Full Belly Farm.

News From the Farm | March 15, 2021

Along with 20 other farms, our farm got to participate in a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic last week.  The clinic was organized by Yolo County and took place on a nearby farm.  In all, 338 farmworkers got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (so we don’t need to go back) and over 200 people returned to get their second Pfizer vaccine after a clinic at the same farm a couple of weeks ago.  By the end of this month, we can rest assured that 90% of our crew is protected.

Yolo County announced its intention to vaccinate frontline workers on February 15th and started pop-up clinics on farms a few days later. These clinics are part of a landmark effort in California to bring the vaccine directly to the fields.  Reports of similar pop-up clinics have come from Riverside, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Marin, and small farmworker towns in Tulare and Fresno Counties.

These clinics are noteworthy for taking place in usually underserved areas like Dinuba, Earlimart and Porterville.  Farmworkers are at high risk of getting COVID, and outbreaks have crippled the work force on farms across the country.  Between Mid-July and November of last year, 13% of farmworkers in the Salinas Valley tested positive in comparison to only 5% of Californians in general.   Latino food and ag workers age 18 to 65 in CA had a nearly 60% increase in mortality during 2020 compared with pre-pandemic times — that’s a very high risk factor.

Farmworkers often live in crowded, multigenerational houses, eat together in dining halls,  travel to work and out to the fields in crowded vans, or work in bustling packing houses.  They can have spotty internet access and may be wary of registering for government programs at large vaccination sites.  Yet these workers never missed a beat when the shelter in place was announced — they are the first step in the chain that gets food to everyone’s table. For all of these reasons, the prioritization of farm workers and the on-farm clinics to deliver those vaccines make a tremendous amount of sense.  When was the last time that you saw farmworkers get preferential treatment for anything?

California is ahead of the curve in terms of farm worker vaccines.  In states like Georgia, Texas, New York and Florida, farmworkers are not yet in the priority groups authorized to receive the shots.  Although the CDC recommended that farm workers should be prioritized along with other essential workers, the CDC also allowed states to set their own priorities and some states are requiring documentation of legal residency which is a good way to disqualify many farm workers. In my view, if ever there was a clear need to set aside the requirement for documentation, this is the time.

With the shortage of vaccines (which hopefully is going to become a thing of the past) and the limitations in logistical preparation, health officials everywhere are grappling with questions of equity.  In California, where 40% of the vaccines are supposed to be directed to disadvantaged areas, there are still inequities.  By February 19th, 24% of African Americans over the age of 65 in Los Angeles had received a vaccine, compared to 43% of white residents in the same age bracket. One of our farmers market crew members, an 80-year old African American without a car or smart phone, needed a COVID test a few months ago.  He walked all the way to a test site and was turned away because he didn’t have an appointment. In that same time frame, all of the other members of the farmers market crew (all white) were easily able to get tested.

Continue reading News From the Farm | March 15, 2021

News From the Farm | November 30, 2020

As you’ve hopefully heard, we’re fast approaching our annual winter break. We’ll be closed from December 13 through January 10 with just a skeleton crew making sure the plants and animals have what they need. During the break, we’ll be catching up on some much needed rest and we won’t be packing and delivering CSAs, making deliveries to stores and restaurants, or going to the farmers markets.

Until then we’ve got produce to harvest, transplants to get in the ground, and soil to prep. Some places on the farm have already started their break – our fields. After a summer being the home for tomatoes, melons, winter squash, eggplant, peppers, flowers, and more, they’ve earned their rest too. Some fields will be turned over to a winter crop right away but for those that we can rest, what’re our options?

Driving around Yolo County right now you see a lot of fields that recently had a crop and have been plowed, the rows have been shaped for next spring’s plantings, and they’ll be left as is until then. During the winter a few weeds will sprout, but they’ll largely stay as they look now, just exposed soil.

Fallowing is one option but it comes with significant risks and downsides and isn’t what we do. Instead we plant cover crops. They’re a key tool in the organic farmer toolbox and in many ways they’re one of our more important crops – so lets explore what they are and why we plant them.

A cover crop is identified by its purpose not the plant type. A cover crop might be something that can be eaten but it’s grown to benefit the soil, not to yield a crop that will be harvested and sold.

If we don’t get paid for growing them, why do it? Cover crops can (1) slow or prevent soil erosion, (2) enhance water infiltration and water availability, (3) control weeds, pests, and diseases, (4) increase crop yields, (5) add nitrogen and other essential plant nutrients to the soil, (6) sequester carbon, (7) improve soil tilth and reduce compaction, and (8) create an ecosystem for beneficial insects and pollinators, and more. Over time, cover crops can increase crop yields and create better soil health. Soil is teaming with life that needs care and nourishment just like the plants do. While these crops dont feed us, they do feed soil microbes and increase soil fertility. Cover crops are a long-term investment in health of the farm; often these benefits take a few years to reveal themselves. There’s a lot we do know about soil and the soil microbiome and the benefits of cover crops, but scientists are still uncovering more every year and the positive results have led the state of California to develop the Health Soils Program, which provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices, including cover cropping, that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases, and improve soil health.

If these benefits are so well known, then why don’t more farmers use them? A few key factors stand out. First, the cost – from the seed, potential irrigation, and the time and fuel used to plant and then eventually cut down and mow these crops. Then, the nutrients will not be immediately available to the plants, unlike synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, some plant species can act as a host for plant diseases and pests. And having to process the biomass from the cover crops can create scheduling and equipment challenges, especially in a wet year when the water-retaining skills of a cover crop can make a field too wet to work.

After weighing the tradeoffs, we think it’s worth it, as do many organic farmers, so we’ve got a decent chunk of our land planted in cover crops right now. What do we plant?  We plant a cover crop mix, not just one plant. We use a mix of legumes (peas, vetch, fava beans, clovers), grasses or grains, and other plants like radish for the mix of benefits that they provide. Legumes will fix nitrogen, grasses add carbon, and large-rooted plants like radish break up the soil. We have cover crops going all seasons of the year, but we tend to do most in the winter since (in theory) rain will provide most of the irrigation.

So we’ve got a lot of fields that look like the picture on the left. By next spring, we hope it’s a tall, healthy cover crop (like the photo on the right). You’ll never see the cover crops in your box, but every bite of produce that you do enjoy is due in part to the cover crop that preceded it in the field.

 

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News From the Farm | November 23, 2020

   

A recently transplanted field of onions!


Every family has their own set of Thanksgiving traditions. One thing my family often does is go around the table and each of us reflect on something we’re thankful for. A natural pessimist, I appreciate the opportunity to look past all the things going wrong and instead focus on all that I have to be grateful for. 

If you were to invite Full Belly Farm to your table this year, what would we say? On Friday, I checked in with some of the Full Belly Farm team to see what we’re feeling thankful for this year. There were a lot of similarities in our answers, lightly edited and condensed for you below:

  • health: the health of our families, friends, and the Full Belly crew
  • family: a healthy family (especially family working in hospitals and health care), kids who say funny things 
  • other people: good co-workers, the customers who buy and eat our produce, a supportive community
  • weather: the end of fire season, fall colors, cooler weather and shorter days, crisp autumn mornings, the rain we got last week, carrot season!
  • animals: puppies (from two different people!), our happy and well cared for chickens and the eggs that they lay
  • bigger things: “todo” (everything) – from a particularly peppy crew washing produce in the shop, “dios” (God), good food to eat, our homes, “a place to live that is beautiful and healthy”

And the thing everyone mentioned, from those of us that have been at the farm for 23 years or three weeks like me: that we are thankful not just to have a job in a time when so many don’t, but that we are specifically thankful to be working at Full Belly Farm. Why? Meaningful work feeding people, good leadership, good coworkers, doing tasks that we like, opportunities to learn and grow, and a collaborative, supportive environment where you feel cared for as a person. 

Thanks to Andrew, Antonio, Bonafacio, Brenda, Francisco, Heather, Hector, Isabel, Jenna, Judith, Maria, Panchy, Paola, Shannon, and others for sharing. And thank you CSA members for your support of the farm! Wishing you all a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

— Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager

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Thanksgiving CSA Deliveries

For the week of Thanksgiving – All Thursday CSA members will receive their boxes on Wednesday, Nov. 25th. All pick-up locations and hours will remain the same. Only the pick-up day will change to Wednesday.

 

The Full Belly Farmers Market Stand at the Farm is currently closed until further notice.

 

You can still find us at these Markets:

      Every Tuesday – Berkeley Farmers

      Market (2pm to 6:30pm)

      Every Thursday – Marin Farmers

      Market (8am to 1pm)

      Every Saturday  – Palo Alto Farmers

      Market (8:30am to 12:00pm)

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News From the Farm | November 9, 2020

 

Becky and Elaine – Full Belly CSA Team  —  

The success of any project here at the Farm reflects the attention to detail and hard work of staff.  When CSA members place orders and request changes in their schedule we do our best to respond.  Every morning we let the harvest crews know what to harvest from the fields so that they can fill the CSA boxes for the next day. We keep the web site updated and keep track of all the add-on orders. We help members who are late to pick up their boxes or who have questions about pick-up logistics.  We answer many questions from the public. We are making well over 1,700 boxes every week these days and we love it!  It is our goal to provide the best possible service to our CSA members in hopes that they enjoy every aspect of the CSA experience.

Over the years, many of you have gotten to know our staff — Carol, Ben and Becky have been masterminding answers to your emails and phone calls.  But with changes in everyone’s lives in 2020, staff have changed.  Carol and Becky are spending more time with their families, and Ben is working on the harvest side of the farm.  Becky is still in the office on Mondays, which provides an important sense of continuity and access to the deep knowledge about the CSA program that she has after 16 years of managing it.  With the recent staffing changes, there has been a lot of temporary staff filling in between the cracks, but all the while we were hoping to find someone who would enjoy being our CSA Manager full time.

We have found that person in Elaine Swiedler.  Elaine is passionate about seasonal, local food and flowers and loves sharing her excitement with others.  Her family has been Full Belly Farm CSA members since 2006 and she credits her membership as giving her a profound connection to the local agricultural community and an appreciation for good produce.  She has held positions with local farms, farmers markets and agriculture-focused non-profits.  She has been involved with several other CSA programs and appreciates the relationship between CSA members and their farms and the mutual value and benefit that both get.  She says, “Producing food can be a purely transactional relationship, but it is so much more meaningful when there is also a deeper connection and investment. That’s why I’ve so enjoyed being involved in CSAs and farmers markets where I can form relationships with customers and see the impact of my work.”

You will have the opportunity to get to know Elaine a little bit as the Manager of the Full Belly CSA — Welcome Elaine!

Citrus season is just around the corner!

What a great day today!  By Maria Grazia

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News From the Farm | October 26, 2020

Verdant beauties graced by tender pinks!  Maria Grazia Romeo  —  

Outside the wind is howling on this Sunday evening, tonight gusts are expected somewhere near 50 mph. The massive Eucalyptus tree that hovers over the north side of our house is always a concern during powerful winds. Its huge boughs are each themselves an enormous tree. We sleep on the far side of the house out of respectful caution.  As I write here at the kitchen table, under that enormous tree I am thinking that if you are reading this at home dear customer, then I probably made it through -as did the tree.

I heard that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago so that one could be now enjoying the shade- while the next best time to plant a tree is today.  The act of planting a tree is one of hope and love with a bit of activism. It is part of asserting your hand in design for the future- a shady spot that, while it is absorbing heat and carbon, is also cooling and making a great location to build a kitchen under (for example). This tree outside the window was planted near 1900 and was seen bending to the right and left- touching the ground as it was roiled by the 1906 earthquake. It has provided a great home for tree house dwellers- kids with an occasional dog or small goat, rope swings, Northern Harrier hawks, visiting great horned owls and other avian migrators. It has also provided shade for a kids area during nearly 30 Hoes Down harvest festivals.  Long ago planting a tree became an act of love and foresight that we enjoy nearly 120 years later.

Reshaping the thinking about farming here at Full Belly has been central to the partners and hands here over 40 years . Back as far as 1980 we became committed to Organic as a principle that precluded what was seen as commonly accepted science and technologies for growing crops. By ruling out the use of certain tools- herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, GMO’S or generally synthetically compounded materials, the emerging practices of good organic farming were built upon the principles of minimizing harm; asking new questions about strategies for dealing with problems; diversifying the ecology of the farm with new thinking about integrated design; accommodating more layers of life in each field; building healthy soil and making healthy plants; integrating animals into our rotations; creating more beauty with flowering plants and year round habitat for pollinators;  thinking and enhancing the biological life that we have a hand in managing; and being open and transparent about what we do through clearer partnerships with our customers.  

Organic farmers were sometimes criticized as romantic dreamers who chose to invalidate all of the technological progress that had marked modern science by merging biology with chemistry on farm. We were the new Luddites- denying technology and choosing to again metaphorically smash the machinery of modern food production.  The accusation of being a Luddite became a pejorative term for those of us who would condemn half the world to starvation by being against technology. Perhaps this charge requires due consideration or perhaps what we have been doing, in making a productive farm, is designing balance between our biological constraints and ecological potentials.  Or perhaps being a Luddite has been misunderstood historically as ‘technological progress’ has continued to stretch its muscle dismissing other ideas as threatening or backwards….

In a 2011 Smithsonian Article (which I found with a google search), Richard Conniff writes about the Luddites:

“The label now has many meanings, but when the group protested 200 years ago, technology wasn’t really the enemy.”

In an essay in 1984—at the dawn of the personal computer era—the novelist Thomas Pynchon wondered if it was “O.K. to be a Luddite,” meaning someone who opposes technological progress. A better question today is whether it’s even possible. Technology is everywhere, and a recent headline at an Internet humor site perfectly captured how difficult it is to resist: “Luddite invents machine to destroy technology quicker.”

     People of the time recognized all the astonishing new benefits the Industrial Revolution conferred, but they also worried, as Carlyle put it in 1829, that technology was causing a “mighty change” in their “modes of thought and feeling. Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart, as well as in hand.” 

     The original Luddites lived in an era of “reassuringly clear-cut targets- machines one could still destroy with a sledgehammer,” Loyola’s Jones writes in his 2006 book Against Technology, making them easy to romanticize. By contrast, our technology is as nebulous as “the cloud,” that Web-based limbo where our digital thoughts increasingly go to spend eternity. It’s as liquid as the chemical contaminants our infants suck down with their mothers’ milk and as ubiquitous as the genetically modified crops in our gas tanks and on our dinner plates. Technology is everywhere, knows all our thoughts and, in the words of the technology utopian Kevin Kelly, is even “a divine phenomenon that is a reflection of God.” Who are we to resist?

     The original Luddites would answer that we are human. Getting past the myth and seeing their protest more clearly is a reminder that it’s possible to live well with technology- but only if we continually question the ways it shapes our lives. It’s about small things, like now and then cutting the cord, shutting down the smartphone and going out for a walk. But it needs to be about big things, too, like standing up against technologies that put money or convenience above other human values. If we don’t want to become, as Carlyle warned, “mechanical in head and in heart,” it may help, every now and then, to ask which of our modern machines General and Eliza Ludd would choose to break. And which they would use to break them.”

I have always resisted the characterization of Organic Agriculture smashing the machinery of “Modern Farming,” and have always sought to convey immense respect for all who farm- no matter what technologies they choose. And in the 40 years of growing Full Belly, we have seen Science re-evaluate the tools of Farming and begin to appreciate the change in design that may be critical to tackle the increasingly sterile, productive and empty rural landscapes, and the deep existential problems of climate change. 

Conventional farmers are now engaged in new conversations about cover crops, water conservation with improved soil biology, soil health, new farmer support, integrated design for greater environmental benefits while production remains high. As Organic farmers, we have been looking to re-charge the potential vitality of rural areas with a different design- choosing technologies carefully, questioning appropriate tools and rebuilding healthy integrated rural landscapes. Change is slow, evolving, and at times threatening to those who cling to either a vision of a great past, or a feeling that their very set of moral principles are being challenged. 

This next weeks election is often characterized as an irreconcilable dichotomy- Rural/Urban; government as the problem/ government as our common construction; conservative/liberal, truth and openness/fake news- we can see how simple dichotomies divide and are exploited by those who seek power asking us to choose and dividing us into one camp or another.  

The tree of democracy planted years ago can be swayed by powerful forces and can come crashing down if the winds are fanned too strong and moral imperatives become too rigid. The roots thrive best when both sides are listened to and understanding/empathy/right relationships nourish the whole. We are proud to be your farm and hope that our efforts are a source of your connection to the earth and all that we share as the gifts of a generous land.  Plant your tree, chose carefully and enliven your activist self.  

— Paul Muller

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News From the Farm | April 13, 2020

Planting onions, social distance style  —

The many sad events of the last month include the sudden absence of restaurant and art venues in our communities, the massive unemployment, and the loss of the alternative weekly press in communities across the country.  That last is close to my heart as my sister and brother in law had to close their three weekly papers – incredible assets in Sacramento, Reno and Chico – when their advertising revenue disappeared overnight.

In the world of food, there have been disruptions up and down the supply chain.  Because half of the food grown in the US used to go to food service (restaurants, schools, cafeterias), many suppliers suddenly saw their markets evaporate and tremendous quantities of fresh produce and dairy have been wasted because the market channels couldn’t adapt quickly enough. There is plenty of food, but matching it to demand and getting it where it is needed is the priority.  Many of us note that this should have always been the priority — and has always been the weakness of our current global food system.  Food banks are facing massive need, and companies that provide on-line food purchases and delivery services are booming.  Schools are another part of the response, as many of them are providing emergency food, feeding thousands of children despite being closed.

Perhaps we cannot be completely sanguine about the supply of food.  Under pressure from state and local officials, several huge pork and chicken plants have closed recently because of illnesses among their employees. For example, Smithfield Foods closed a mammoth pork plant in Sioux Falls “until further notice.”  A plant owned by the Delaware chicken company Allen Harim has seen a 50% workforce decline and has reduced operations correspondingly.  In an interview with Fern’s Ag Insider, Craig Watts, a former contract poultry grower, said “Big is fragile.  We’re seeing it now.  When you have a problem, you have a big problem.”

Local Food activists have responded in multiple ways, with farmers markets reinventing themselves overnight.  In some states the farmers markets are going to on-line systems, customers are ordering in advance and produce is being placed in the trunks of cars as they drive by.  With the proactive response of farmers markets that Full Belly attends, it appears to us as if the markets might be a safer place to shop than grocery stores. The Community Alliance with Family Farmers has created a Farmers Assistance Fund to assist family farmers through the crisis. Flour, eggs and garden seeds are all in high demand, as families bake and garden at home. 

In March when Governor Newsom established the California Health Corps of retired health care workers and medical and nursing students he was planning ahead for when the coronavirus outbreak might peak in California.  Within days, sign-ups topped 70,000.  Reflecting on this, a friend of mine who is familiar with the shortage of labor on farms, commented that maybe we need a similar effort for farm labor.  During WWII in the US, women – many of them from urban areas – created Women’s Land Armies to provide labor on farms.  Declaring January 12, 1943 Farm Mobilization Day, President Roosevelt even delivered a nationwide address in which he underscored the important role to be played by American agriculture in winning the war.

At Full Belly we are grateful that we have been able to continue farming and filling CSA boxes, despite this being a time of year when produce is at its scarcest point in the farming cycle. We are grateful that we are part of a community that feels connected to the sources of its food. We are inspired by all the phone calls that we are getting as people struggle to figure out how to best support the food banks, local farms, and the elderly and vulnerable in each and every community.

Perhaps the massive fires and repeated electrical outages that have occurred over the last few years have given us warning that this is a time of upheaval. Because of the changing climate, all the lessons we can learn are likely to stand us in good stead in future. This moment may be an opportunity for building more resilient local networks and more lasting connections. We hope that you are enjoying cooking at home at the same time as we look forward to the day when the restaurants and art venues open back up!  

Blessings on your meals.

— Judith Redmond

One of our cover cropped fields (above) — the crimson clover thrives after mowing.

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