Autumn Rains on the Farm

We received a healthy shower of rain yesterday and today, under today’s blue skies and sunshine, the farm sits moist and covered with little pools of water. The ground was so dry from the intense summer that there are no pools of water on the soil, the pools are in the leafs of kale which bend with the tablespoons of water that have not found their way to the ground.
The trailer to the kid’s peddle powered tractor sits, glazed with a pool of clean, crisp rain water. The large rock at the events site has a few bowls that were worn into it over the past thousands of years – which too are filled with water.

Beautiful rainy day

A photo posted by Capay Organic (@capay_organic) on

We received a healthy shower of rain yesterday and today, under today’s blue skies and sunshine, the farm sits moist and covered with little pools of water. The ground was so dry from the intense summer that there are no pools of water on the soil, the pools are in the leafs of kale which bend with the tablespoons of water that have not found their way to the ground.
The trailer to the kid’s peddle powered tractor sits, glazed with a pool of clean, crisp rain water. The large rock at the events site has a few bowls that were worn into it over the past thousands of years – which too are filled with water.

By the end of the day most of these little pools of water will be gone, some will end up in the sky, other in the rock that holds them and much will be teased to the ground by the gentle fall breeze. The soil now sits dark and muddy saturated with enough water from the storm to stop all harvest and tractor operations. In the dark fields small green lines of cover crop are poking up in the weaving lines of the tractor that sowed them. This mixture of beans and grasses are the most productive part of fall and winter, by next spring these plants will have taken free water and sun and transformed them into organic matter and green fertilizer – literally feeding the soil that will feed our plants.

The hills beyond the farm as still dry and yellow with the grass from last year. The oak trees have most of their leaves and under them lay a relatively large crop of acorns. On the sloping ground that separates the hills from our flat vegetable ground in the bottom of the valley are our satsuma mandarin trees. The citrus fruit that has been green and hidden all summer now are bright orange and screaming out the farm.

Tomorrow we expect the soil to be dry enough to resume harvest activities. On the list to harvest are mandarins, radish, lettuce, kale, chards, fennel, beets and bok choy. With the sunshine we are expecting through the week we should see our small vegetables sizing up nicely and with Thanksgiving around the corner we hope to see our cooler shipping tons of vegetables to all of our markets.

Farm Tank Summit

Food Tank, in partnership with the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, Farm-to-Fork Program, and University of California, Davis, is excited about the 1st annual Farm Tank Conference in Sacramento this fall. The two-day event will feature more than 35 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for interactive panels.

Our chief farmer, Thaddeus Barsotti will be one of the speakers at the summit. He recently had the opportunity to speak with Farm Tank for a little Q&A session.


Q. What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

A. I was born and raised on an organic farm, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized that there are not a lot of people who grew up like that! After we lost our mother to cancer, my brothers and I all agreed to keep the farm going.

Q. What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

A. Fixing the food system is not something that can be done by one specific group of people. In order to fix the food system, all the different components of the food system (farmers, distributors, government, academics, customers) need to band together behind a common vision. This united effort that spans industries is the opportunity.

Q. What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?

A. I am most excited about using the internet to completely connect all of the users of the food system with all of the information in the food system.

Q. Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

A. My mother loved to grow new produce (baby mixed lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, satsuma mandarins were some of the things she was the first to grow post world war II). I remember her sitting at the dining room table with all of her seed catalogues deciding what to grow next season. Looking back at it, I respect her courage to grow new items and hustle to find customers that loved those products.

Q. What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

A. I am driven on a daily basis to provide my customers with genuinely healthy and just food.

Q. What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?

A. Past generations didn’t have to deal with children growing up eating processed food that has been scientifically perfected to “taste” great.

Q. What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?

A. Our society needs to figure out how to empower everyone to afford and prepare healthy, wholesome food.

Q. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

A. Participate in a local CSA.

Q. What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

A. The ability for everyone to source and prepare wholesome, healthy food.

Q. What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?

A. Stop subsidizing commodities.

Click here to learn more about the Sacramento Food Tank Summit.

Our Start at Farmers Markets

kids working market

Our farm has always been on the cutting edge of distribution systems that connect a farm’s produce directly to the consumer. It is a little known fact that the reason our farm started was because my Dad got the city of Davis to agree to let him use their insurance to start a farmers market. Once he knew that a farmers market was going to start, he found a quarter of an acre to grow some stuff to sell at the market! He was worried that farmers and the people of Davis wouldn’t take to his innovative idea right away, so he had better grow something. He needn’t have worried – people showed up to see what this new farmers market idea was all about.

This market is still going strong today 40 years later. Prior to the market’s start in 1976, there was no way to sell produce grown in a different manner because retail stores were the only organizations that sold produce, and they were only interested in produce that was grown with the latest technologies of synthetic fertilizers and fancy, new herbicides and insecticides.
My parents believed that food could be grown without these things. They also knew that society wanted food grown in this way.

By the time I made it onto Earth in 1980, farmers markets were the main income source for our family. Waking up really early to hand load the van for the farmers markets is not one of my favorite childhood memories. However, the farmers markets were this country boy’s only interaction with society. It is at the farmers markets that I learned people liked what we were doing (being on the farm, fresh produce was not that exciting to me). It was at markets that I learned to do arithmetic, and it was at markets that I realized how big the world really was.
Scrapbook photo

The extension of our market stand is Farm Fresh To You that brings produce direct to your doorstep. It is this connection with individuals like you that continues the development of a new distribution system that brings the seasons from our fields to your home.

My brothers and I have made a commitment to join our farmers market staff at least once a month to train up our own kids and to talk directly to people about produce. In August, we will celebrate 40 years of the founding of the farmers market and our farm by handing out our delicious, mini seedless watermelons.

Bustling Spring

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The grass on the hills is still lush green from the rains a few weeks ago. The clouds that have been floating overhead have added a contrast to the farmland that is a beautiful part of spring. The clouds always come from the west, and they often leave huge shadows on the ground as they move east. There have been a few of them that have dropped quick bursts of rain, but nothing significant, just enough to remind us that summer is not here yet.

Apriums 4-4-12

The stone fruit tree blossoms are finished. In their places are tiny, hard green balls that will mature into fruit. The apriums will be first, followed by apricots then cherries, peaches and nectarines. The cover crops that grew so tall over the winter between the rows in the orchards have been mowed and disked back into the soil. Their life cycle is onto the next phase. Next to the bare ground, the fruit trees look taller than they did amidst the mature cover crops.

Gavin's camera 4.26 bee on mandarin flowe

The citrus on the farm is just beginning to push out their elegant, white flowers. They are not large like the stone fruit blossoms, but small and delicate. One has to look for them between the evergreen citrus leaves. They are not as fun to look at, but their smell is divine.

Beyond the orchards in the flat land next to the creek, the sounds of tractors echoes off the hills beyond the creek. One tractor seeds spring vegetable crops; another is disking a field of cover crops; a third pulls a trailer full of sprinkler pipe that crews are installing for the newly planted vegetable seeds.  The last tractor pulls the harvest trailer through the asparagus field that leads a crew of twenty who are plucking green asparagus shoots from the ground.

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On the other end of the farm, tomato transplants are just settling into their new field. Eggplant, pepper and melon plants have just arrived from the greenhouse and are in the queue to be planted into the ground. Things are bustling to say the least.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco Banner 2015 for Capay Organic

Saturday – May 7, 2016

4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Our Farm – 23800 State Highway 16, Capay, California 95607

Join us at our farm in Capay for a fun-filled evening! Bring the whole family to partake in the festivities! Participate in an arts and crafts activity or join in on a soccer game. There will be music and dancing, fantastic local food, margaritas and more!

Camp with us on the farm! Reserve a campsite and spend the night in our orchards. Proceeds from the event benefit the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture.

ADMISSION

Advance Tickets

$15 per adult – purchase by Friday, May 6th

FREE to kids 12 and under

Day of Event Tickets

$20 per person (at the door) – purchase at the farm on day of event

CAMPING:

Sleep under the stars and among fruit trees. Reserve a camp site in our orchards. Tent camping only. No RV’s.

$35 Advance Campsite Reservations – Purchase by May 6th

$40 Day-of-Event Campsite Reservations – Available First-Come / First-Serve Basis

Click here for more details, and to purchased tickets.

Spring Overload

Lettuce Transplants

The winter can be dangerous with its stagnant state of farm activity. What ends up happening is I sit around in the office not being able to get any work done because of the wind, rain, cold temperatures and muddy fields. The result being I sit around setting into motion things that we will do as soon as the weather turns to spring, and I always forget how easy it is to overdo it. The result of these great ideas are coming back to haunt me now.

I remember in college when the end of the quarter would approach, and there were a handful of papers due with a stack of finals to prepare for and not nearly enough time for everything. There was this feeling that went along with that, similar to what is striking me now and if I learned anything in college, it was: all that can be done is to keep forward progress.

Everyone on the farm is glad that the fields are being worked, and new crops are getting placed into the ground. The winter lineup has been fun, but the new season is here, and the field and packing crews are ready to start harvesting and packing new things. The strawberries seem to be the next big thing. They are neatly arranged in their field at the feet of some of the oldest oak trees on the farm.

The stone fruit mix of apricots, peaches and nectarines have completed their beautiful show of flowering. The weather was perfect for fruit set, and there is no reason to believe it will be anything but a great stone fruit year. The tiny apricots can already be seen. They are green little specks about the size of a BB pellet. It will not be long until the irrigation of this orchard begins.

This time of year it is easy to feel overwhelmed, but the truth is that I am glad the plants are doing most of the work. I have no idea what goes on when a strawberry plant flowers, what the grape canes do to push out new growth, how the asparagus turns last summer’s energy from the sun into shoots this spring. I am really relieved that those plants have that all figured out and that they are on time and predictable.