No Farms, No Farm Girls

I attended an event last Saturday called Celebrating Women in Agriculture. This was the first annual gathering of its kind—a forum for women in organic and ecological agriculture in California to get together and share ideas and build relationships. The event was held at Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley (Yolo County).

Dru Rivers of Full Belly was the main hostess. I arrived early to find her calmly awaiting the arrival of the guests. I had worked with Dru while I was at the Ecological Farming Association, and have always admired her for her calm, sweet, and wise presence.

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She led the day where nearly 60 women (and almost a handful of men) gathered to celebrate women farmers. Dru first led the group on a tour of the 400 acre Certified Organic Farm. She and farm manager Jan candidly shared about the economics, labor practices, water use, and other considerations regarding the farm’s production.

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The tour illuminated the Full Belly farm partners’ healthy competition between the heirloom tomatoes, melons, and cut flowers. Dru also wow-ed the group with the farm’s overall diversity and production scope, which also includes animals (including 250 sheep and lambs grazing in the walnut orchard), perennial fruit and nuts, and an astonishing array of greens and vegetables.

IMGP1621 IMGP1626IMGP1732 IMGP1632 IMGP1633The photo opportunities just kept coming! The group enjoyed a lovely lunch of chilled carrot soup, chick peas, salad, and baked treats—all prepared in time for our return back from the tour. We met in the Full Belly Farm new event facility, which had just officially opened barely two weeks before!

With long tables set simply with flowers in canning jars, it was apparent how almost effortlessly ready the Full Belly crew was—they certainly have been doing events for a long time, so everything went along seamlessly. They often have weddings and they also host a 5,000-plus person event called the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, which is a benefit for local Santa Cruz non-profit the Ecological Farming Association.

IMGP1665The afternoon brought break-out sessions on creative land ownership, beginning small farmers, animals, flowers, and more. Finally the day came to a close with a circle discussion of what was learned and where the group wanted to go from there. Since there was a substantial Santa Cruz contingent, (including a small but mighty cadre of CASFS apprentices), there was talk of sparking a meet up locally on the same topic.

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All attendees left inspired and revived from a great day, and with anticipation for the next steps!

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