Week 13, 2023|Kristin Kimball|March 31, 2023

The forecast is hinting at the end of the sugaring season this week. Two more hard frosts, and then, who knows? As soon as the buds begin to swell on the maple trees, the season is over no matter what, because the syrup made from ‘buddy’ trees is acrid and sulfurous. It’s really one of the most unpleasant tastes in the world and that’s coming from a person who has tasted many questionable things in her life. How is it that something so good can turn so very bad? For the moment, though, we’re still collecting the good stuff. As of yesterday, we’ve got 100 gallons of syrup safely stowed or distributed, which feels like a very successful first season with this new equipment. Other signs of spring this week: the horses are shedding their thick winter fur in big satisfying clumps, the snowdrops that pushed their way through the snow are blooming, and the house is a neglected mess, with muddy boot tracks in the hallway and laundry piling up. Spring is so many things, including not enough time to be a decent housekeeper.

We had a lot of details to talk through and numbers to sift as we made our decisions for the farm for the coming growing season. I think we’re most of the way there, at last. Here are the important points:

  • The local annual full diet membership is a go for the rest of the year, and seems to be shaping up very nicely. I’m working on the contract for May through December right now. Don’t forget, members, you’ll need to re-register and sign new contracts by the first week in May, because the current contract ends at the end of April. The adult share price will go up just a tiny tick from $105/week to $110/week. We’re targeting a local membership size that feels just right; I’m going to work really hard to get about 20 new members onboard as soon as I can this spring, so please help me spread the word right now. We will cap the membership after that so we can keep our production in line with the number of people we are feeding. Thanks to our amazing Essex Farm Food Fund donors, we will have funds available to bridge gaps between what the membership costs, and what folks can afford! Reach out to me early if you know you’ll be interested in utilizing those funds so I can begin to get a handle on pairing needs with resources.
  • In the interest of strengthening our farm community, I’d really love to bring our membership together often this year with pot luck dinners, regular farm walks, work parties, and maybe a big canning day or a harvest festival in the fall? Let me know if you’d like to be involved in organizing some of these things, and we can kick them off as soon as the weather warms up a little bit.
  • We don’t think we have enough resources to be able to deliver weekly memberships to NYC, Albany or the Hudson Valley for the rest of 2023, but we are planning to continue our deliveries of curated monthly boxes. Right now, we’re making one drop in New Paltz, and delivering door-to-door in all boroughs of New York City except Staten Island. We’d love to add a drop in the Capitol Region if we can get a few people interested. I’d really value feedback from recipients on how those boxes are working, as well as help in spreading the word about these monthly deliveries! Shoot me an email for more information, or feel free to put anyone who might be interested in touch with me at essexfarm@gmail.com
  • We will not be offering local seasonal memberships in the same way we have in the past, but are going to come up with another way to connect with summer visitors. Stay tuned for more details on that.
  • I’m looking for retail, wholesale and restaurant channels to sell our beautiful, delicious 100% grass fed lamb. We have more now than our membership can eat! We’ll be sending a large number of animals to be processed in the next few weeks. We’ve never done a lot of business outside of the membership, and I don’t have a lot of experience with how to go about it, so if there are experts out there who can help me out, please get in touch. The lambs can be USDA processed and sold as retail cuts, primals, halves or whole animals.

And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this fast-moving 13th week of 2023. Find us at 518-570-6399, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Instagram at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball