Full Belly Farm receives 2014 Leopold Conservation Award
Located northwest of Sacramento, Full Belly Farm is co-owned by Andrew Brait, Paul Muller, Judith Redmond and Dru Rivers. They began farming together in the 1980’s when many farms were failing and there was no established organic produce marketing system.
The owners are dedicated to exceptional land stewardship and strive to balance the farm’s bottom line with environmentally sound practices.
Since 1985, Full Belly Farm has been a California Certified Organic farm and an industry leader. Its owners believe the diversity of crops grown on the farm – annuals, perennials, grain, native plant hedgerows, and animals – contributes to both its ecological and economic resilience in the face of climate changes or crop failures. The farm successfully utilizes diverse management practices and innovations that incorporate both conventional and sustainable agriculture including soil health, riparian and habitat improvement, agrobiodiversity, crop and animal product diversity.
The farm pioneered a variety of innovative enterprise, marketing and outreach strategies that allow the business to grow and support a year-round work force. A solar plant provides energy for the irrigation and cooler systems, and most row crops are irrigated with buried drip systems and orchards with micro-sprinklers. It pioneered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farming and now serves 1,200 families each week. Products are also sold at farmers markets, in restaurants and stores, and to distributors.
With nearly 90 full-time employees, Full Belly Farm conducts highly effective sustainable agriculture education and outreach efforts in Northern California. Popular summer camps for youth and an adult internship program inspire and teach future farmers. Urban consumers are reached through social media, the CSA food box program, informational booths and food sales at farmers’ markets, and through tours and special events at the farm. More than 30 organizations benefit from funds raised at the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival, and the farm owners actively participate in leadership roles of various agricultural organizations.
Thomas Tomich, Ph.D., University of California, Davis writes, “These remarkable farmers and the beautiful farm operation they steward jointly epitomize the ethical relationship between people and the land that Aldo Leopold articulated for us all, combining passion, purpose and science.”
Sand County Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners across North America to advance ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit the environment.
“California’s extraordinary natural beauty is matched by its extraordinary leaders in agriculture. We are proud to present this award to a California landowner and share their story of conservation achievement around the country.” – Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation President
Sustainable Conservation partners with business, agriculture, and government to find practical ways that the private sector can protect clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems. The independent nonprofit organization leads powerful collaborations that produce lasting solutions and sustain the vitality of both the economy and the environment in California.
“With more than half of California in private hands, the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers and other private landowners is crucial to the vitality of wildlife, humans and the economy.” – Ashley Boren, Sustainable Conservation Executive Director
The California Farm Bureau Federation is California’s largest farm organization. It works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 53 county Farm Bureaus throughout California, whose members include farm families and those who support the farming way of life.
“The Leopold Conservation Award highlights outstanding examples of the stewardship that family farmers and ranchers contribute every day. Landowners play a crucial role in protecting the environment, providing habitat for wildlife, and maintaining a safe and affordable food supply for consumers.” – Paul Wenger, California Farm Bureau Federation President