Week 34, 2020|Kristin Kimball |August 21, 2020

The rains were so localized this week, some parts of our farm caught a downpour and some got nothing. But we’ll take it, anywhere. Our weather station registered nearly nine tenths of an inch for the week. Soil moisture is creeping up. And that means all focus has been on getting seeds in the ground, while there is enough moisture to receive them. Mark has been welded to the tractor seat in Blockhouse Field and New Field all week, planting cover crops. When I drove out to talk with him today, he and Beth were filling the hoppers of the seed drill with a mix of oat, pea, rye and vetch on one side, and a mix of turnip and annual rye grass on the other. When I look at those powerful cover crop seeds, I see happy animals and delicious meat, and healthy soil and healthy plants, and ultimately, healthy people and a healthy planet. The gorgeous acres of green that will come from them will fatten the breeding ewes this fall, and feed the lambs in the spring, and then be used to feed the soil, increase organic matter, sequester carbon, and add nitrogen for future vegetables and grains.

Well, look at the calendar! It’s time to start stocking up. Mark is threatening to plow up the most perfect basil we’ve ever grown unless you members take more of it. I’m freezing some plain and making a batch of pesto. I’m also going to start blanching and freezing some of the hearty greens, and a lot of cooking celery, because much as I love celeriac in winter, I miss the solid green base note of its close cousin, celery, in my mirepoix. You don’t have to blanch it if you don’t feel like it. Just wash, chop and freeze. But for the present moment, fresh homemade soups have been in heavy rotation on our menu. The favorite this week is cream of tomato with sweet bell pepper and loads of just-picked basil. And even when we’re keeping it simple, celebratory desserts are important. For Mark’s birthday on Monday we had bourbon pound cake with fresh raspberries and a side of (stay with me here) sour cow cream/goat milk/maple syrup/blueberry/lime ice cream, and it was a smash hit with the farmers.

And now for the weekly ask! This time, it’s on behalf of our friends and collaborators up the hill. One of the trickiest parts of creating a viable local food system is seemingly so simple: it’s getting the food from the farms to the people. The logistics of fresh food delivery are complicated. There’s maintaining a cold chain, sourcing and cleaning durable crates and insulation material, packing delicate and irregular items, timing the deliveries, driving at weird hours, and staffing, staffing, staffing; if one thing goes wrong, the whole load is in jeopardy. If you remember the key plot point of Steinbeck’s East of Eden (hint: there’s a trainload of lettuce from the Salinas Valley that rots on its way to Chicago) you know it has always been so, which is one of the reasons our food system tends toward consolidation into a few giant agribusinesses. Small farmers are busy enough in the field, and most have neither the capital nor the expertise to manage delivery. So, we and other local farms here in the Eastern Adirondacks rely on the scrappy determination of Jori and the crew at the Hub on the Hill to handle it. When the pandemic hit, Jori teamed up with a bunch of nonprofits and volunteers to supply emergency boxes of high-quality local food to people in need throughout the north country, a project that grew fast, and continues. That put some strain on her already maxed out system, and four of her vehicles ended up in the shop with costly repairs. But, resiliency! With the help of some friends, she started a crowd-funding campaign to replace two of the Hub’s older delivery vehicles with new, reliable ones. The campaign is on a platform called Caring Crowd, where Johnson & Johnson will match donations at 50% (up to $200 matched) and they will match the overall campaign at 20%. Also, Caring Crowd doesn’t take a fee. So a $100 donation will bring in over $170 to the Hub for new wheels. The donations are 100% tax deductible, because the project is being sponsored by our local Rotary Club. If you are able to make a donation or help get the word out on social media, it would be much appreciated. Here’s the link.

One more thing. This Ball jar shortage is serious, with no end in sight. We’re scrounging and scrambling every week to find enough to get by, and it’s not going very well. Some of our milk is going out in quarts now because we don’t have enough half gallons. Please return every jar and lid every week and try not to break any, at least until the supply chain loosens up!

And that is the news from this fall’s-approaching 34th day of 2020. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and on Insta at kristinxkimball, farmerkimball, and essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, from a distance, any day but Sunday. -Kristin & Mark Kimball