Full Belly Farm
Pioneering farmers balance economic stability with environmental stewardship at a Northern California farm
Despite it 60 full-time workers, dozens of farmers markets, hundreds of CSA customers and an ever-growing list of wholesale and retail accounts, the owners of Full Belly Farm still consider themselves just a small family farm. If we were being technical, it would actually be a "families farm" with four owners and their families living onsite, tending to more than 400 acres of farmland.
Started in 1985 by Paul Muller, his wife Dru Rivers and friends Judith Redmond and Andrew Brait, the farm's foursome bonded over a yearning to grow a variety of organic produce for their local community. The group planted roots in the picturesque Capay Valley of Yolo County and aptly named their place Full Belly Farm—because if your belly wasn't full going in, it would be leaving!
The farm has more than 50 different fields, ranging in size from three to 30 acres. Everything from apples to zucchini grows there, and each owner is free to pursue individual interests within the farm.
The equal balance of power at the farm is emblematic of the other balancing they do, such as balancing economic stability with environmental stewardship. While creating a successful business model is important, the four owners also believe strongly in taking care of the land that has given them so much. They've carefully managed Cache Creek that flows through their farm and they've planted gardens at the farm to attract native insects that act as pollinators for many of their crops. In addition, their solar panels produce enough electricity to offset the energy use of the farm's coolers and irrigation systems.
Through the years, Full Belly Farm has grown to produce an amazing diversity of vegetables, herbs, nuts, flowers and fruits year-round. It also has a flock of chickens, a herd of sheep and several cows. Their crops are sold weekly at farmers markets and to restaurants, stores and wholesale accounts, as well as through their Community Supported Agriculture program, which started in 1992. The program now serves around 1,200 families per week.
For more information about Full Belly Farm, visit http://fullbellyfarm.com.