Week 16, 2020 | Kristin Kimball | Apr 14, 2020

I am a bit late on the note this week, and so the New York City pack is happening as I type. Pack day is always a busy one full of details and logistics, capably led by Kathleen and Caitlin. There’s harvesting and collecting, washing and chilling, and packing the stacks of unique boxes in the most efficient order for transfer and delivery. Today, the team is cutting the first greens from the south greenhouse to be bagged and sent south. It’s a big delivery this week, as we’ve picked up some new members, and our existing members are ordering more food, because nobody is going out. The boxes will be loaded this afternoon, for distribution in the city tomorrow by the amazing city-based distro team. In normal times, they brave traffic, crowded sidewalks and parking tickets to get those boxes to our members’ doors. These days, in the eerie absence of all traffic and crowds, they brave a tiny dispassionate virus with its own reproductive agenda. Thanks, team, for what you are doing. It brightens my heart to see this food going out and I’m adding my own extra sprinkle of well-wishes on it today. May it bring nutrition, comfort and healing to you, friends. We know what you have been going through, and are hoping this fearsome hill has been climbed, and the descent to safety and relative normalcy will be speedy. It seems everyone I know in my old city has been touched now. There are friends who have been sick, or are sick, and friends of friends who have tragically died. We have a member on the front lines, an ER doc in Brooklyn with two little kids and a very pregnant wife. She risked her life to do this lifesaving work, and ended up sick, in her own hospital’s ICU. She has, thankfully, been released and is recovering. Our gratitude to her, her family, and to everyone who is doing their part out there is bottomless. 

Our own part in this crisis is to feed people, and to do it as safely and compassionately as we can. This has meant implementing social distancing protocols for our local members, contributing to the relief boxes that are being distributed region-wide by the Hub on the Hill, and keeping our city members well fed. We have gotten comments from locals this week who are upset with us for sending food to the city, for fear the virus will hitchhike back to Essex in the van. To reiterate, we have a no-contact system in place. We do not have local people making deliveries in the city. And the city-based delivery team does not come to Essex. We drive the van to an unpopulated spot outside the city, where the city delivery team transfers the boxes to their own delivery vehicles. Everyone has masks and gloves and hand sanitizer at the ready, and is informed and conscientious about using them. Then the van comes back to Essex. Of course, there are many unknowns in this unprecedented emergency, but given what we do know and what we are doing, I think this poses less risk to Essex County than an average trip to the Plattsburgh Walmart. And I know beyond a doubt we are helping our members in the city stay home, stay safe and well nourished. This crisis is asking everyone to dig deep for stores of love, generosity, patience and compassion, and I trust we can all rise to the mark through our own fear and uncertainty. 

Meanwhile, spring marches on, with drama and beauty. The warm wind last night was spectacular, blowing in some cool clear air, blowing out the rain and that fat pink moon. The peepers have been singing from the ponds and swamps, heralding our return to fieldwork. Cover crops are sprouting, and the first transplants are in and taking root. The pastures are beginning to turn green, and we hope to have animals on them within a week or two. The countdown to lambing is three weeks by the calendar, but with 180 ewes bred, we can expect some early arrivals. The new greenhouse is up, with new water lines to it and new ditching around it. Its skin goes on tomorrow morning, as soon as the wind dies down. Thanks to Liam and Pandora for owning this big project and getting it done so fast and well. 

Our farm store is stocked and open to the public with milk, vegetables, eggs, flours, tortillas and meats, but the office and the rest of the farm are closed to visitors. You can leave a message in the office at 518-963-4613 but feel free to text or call Mark’s cell at 518-570-5399 if you have time sensitive questions or want to inquire about a share. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this full steam ahead 16th week of 2020. You can find us at essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and on insta at essexfarmcsa, kristinxkimball, and farmerkimball, or you can wave to us from a safe distance at the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball