As an operating partner at Full Belly Farms, Andrew Brait runs a 400-acre regenerative organic farm in the Capay Valley. Their produce is sought after by many in the Bay Area, and recognizable by its smiling green Buddha logo. Among seasonal vegetables, the farm produces a variety of grains, beans, nuts, preserves, baked goods, wool, and yarn – their roasted almond butter is simply addictive.
Andrew and his partners ensure that the land is stewarded for soil regeneration and a commitment to environmental stewardship. Full Belly is always experimenting with cutting-edge methods of organic farming such as reducing tillage for soil health. As a company in a free market, they know there is a need to distinguish themselves, however, they also see their neighbors as collaborators. “Cooperatition” is the word Andrew used to describe the relationship between other farms in the area. He explains, “we are all working together to secure the future of a healthy agricultural paradigm…the overall success of the market is a success for agriculture.” It is clear that Full Belly prioritizes the common good and progression of regenerative agriculture on a large scale.
In an era where we are ever more disconnected from our food, Andrew speaks of the goal to reconnect people with agriculture. The farm operates as a cultural nexus beyond the growing of produce. Weekly, a thoughtful update is released about the happenings of the farm and new contemplations of what stewardship means. In an October 26th News From the Farm piece, partner Paul Muller writes ”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.” It’s also about gathering people together, celebrating, and creating a cultural appreciation for food. They regularly host Farm Dinners and Pizza nights that celebrate seasonal harvests and give visitors the opportunity to tour the farm. This has been challenging in the wake of Covid as they have canceled events to practice social distancing.
However, Andrew speaks of some silver linings, “There is something really powerful happening…the venues where we are connecting with people (farmers market, CSA, distribution of crops) have fed into people’s sense of connection in a really positive way…We are at a loss for some of these essential pieces of our human-ness that we either need to find elsewhere or patiently wait to reconnect with. It has been a really special thing to connect with people in this modified way.” In these uncertain times, Andrew draws hope from “enhancing the biological life that we have a hand in managing” and witnessing the majesty in the growth of the plants and animals he cultivates in his day-to-day work at Full Belly Farms.
Check out a beautiful video of Andrew here