Week 10, 2020 | Kristin Kimball | Mar 6, 2020

The girls and I are home and catching up from our two week grand tour of Utah. We met lots of farmers, signed some books, saw our first dessert, hiked in Zion National Park, soaked in natural hot springs, visited the Utah Natural History Museum, and, for a few glorious days, skied our buns off in the Wasatch Mountains. We flew in and out of Las Vegas, a surreal portal between two very different natural worlds. I came back to the farm recharged, physically and mentally.

The stark difference between what it’s like to farm here and what it’s like to farm there underscored for me why local is so much more than a marketing buzzword. Sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all concept! It’s complex, with interconnected parts, and it changes region by region, sometimes field by field. That is to say, what’s sustainable here is not sustainable in the dry red clay of Utah and vice versa. But one-size-fits-all is easier to sell than complexity, even if it’s not true. Food corporations are doing a great job right now branding an overly simplified concept of sustainability that promotes products like the impossible burger, which is riding on the false idea that animal agriculture is always bad for the planet. There are landscapes, soil types, and management techniques in which animal agriculture is not only environmentally acceptable, but the very best choice. We believe that the best way to farm this particular piece of the planet and nurture its soil is to combine plant agriculture with animal agriculture, and reap the synergies. What’s clearly not sustainable or desirable is turning cheap commodity crops into fake food so highly processed its details are laboratory secrets. That does yield big profit! Not for the farmer, but for the corporations. If we want to keep diversified local farms viable, we have to believe there’s real value in responsibly produced whole food, and put our food dollars into buying it, and our time into preparing it. 

We have a bunch of off-farm events coming up before the rush of spring work kicks in, and we’d love to see you at them. Tonight I’ll be in Canton, NY for a talk and reading at the Best Western, beginning at 7. It’s free and open to the public. I’ll stay in Canton Saturday to give the keynote at the Cornell Cooperative Extension workshop on Value Added Products. On Sunday March 22 I’ll be speaking at Adirondack Experience the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake for their Cabin Fever series, starting at 1:30. We are shearing the sheep on Tuesday March 24th and could use a phalanx of volunteers to skirt the fleeces. That work takes place under cover and there’s no experience necessary. Let us know if you’d like to attend. Finally, Mark is heading to Manhattan next Saturday March 14th to co-host a dinner of Essex Farm food with the fabulous people at Springbone Kitchen. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.  

Belated thanks and big kudos to Clara Coleman of Four Season Farm Consulting for her #realfarmercare project, a gofundme campaign that recognizes the hard work farmers do. The funds she raises can be used for farmer self-care as the farmers see fit, and Essex Farm is one of the lucky recipients. As everyone here braces for planting season we decided our farmers could use a night of fun and games, so we’re using it to take everyone bowling. Watch out, Willsboro Lanes. We’ll be sure to post lots of goofy pictures on Insta. 

That’s the news from Essex Farm for this feelin’-the-sun 10th week of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and at 3 places on Insta (that’s essexfarmcsa for the farm, kristinxkimball for me, and farmerkimball for the unplugged Mark version), or as always right here irl on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball