Week 14, 2022|Kristin Kimball|April 8, 2022

The peepers are awake and singing, the tiger lilies are up, the egret has returned to the back pond, and this inch of rain has washed all the fields with a new shade of bright green. We are rolling now. Even the rain is welcome, believe it or not. Things got quite dry for April. The big challenge this month is how to get all the work done with the hands we have available. More on that below. 

Let’s talk about exciting food things first. We are going to trial a new ground beef product that we’re calling the Cavewoman Blend, which will include those most nutrient-dense organs, the liver and heart, that come along for free in every animal, and are so often ignored. We’ll be researching the right proportion of organs:muscle meat to get a good balance of taste plus nutrient boost. While we do that, would you please send us your level of interest in this enterprise, so we have a sense of how big our trial should be? How willing are you to give it a taste? What are the odds you’d like to see it in the share on a regular basis? Email essexfarm@gmail.com, subject line Cavewoman Blend

On a similar note, this month’s issue of GRAZE magazine includes a synopsis of a study on the nutritional differences between grassfed and conventional hamburger. This study confirms the well-known twofold advantage grassfed has over conventional in CLA and omega-3 fatty acid levels, and includes some new-to-me information on the astounding difference in phytochemicals, including polyphenols, tocopherols, and carotenoids. Grassfed contained nearly twice the vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, and folate and nearly three times the vitamin B12 compared to conventional hamburger. Go grass! 

In our kitchen this week we loved a sort of simplified/essexfarmified cassoulet, made with cubed pork belly, chicken pieces, chicken stock and pinto beans. Salt pork would have been good too, or any cured pork product in place of the belly. It has been a while since I made a cassoulet and I’d forgotten how deeply satisfying it is, especially when paired with a crisp cabbage salad and good wine. This was my starting point, from which I diverged as needed.  

We are very short on staff right now, and we don’t have the usual lineup in place for summer work. Much of this is due to difficulty securing affordable housing for farmers nearby. The housing situation changed very quickly here, as we’ve welcomed a lot of new people to town. We are so glad for new faces but desperately need housing solutions. This was not a foreseeable hurdle two years ago, and is now front and center. Farming! Never dull. Thank you so much to the people who have opened homes and rooms nearby for farmers and please if you have space to offer at an affordable rent, let us know. 

Members! You know those wooden flats that hold our tomatoes at distribution in the summer and fall? We use them for seeding in the spring, and we’re very very short. They aren’t meant to leave the farm but if you mistakenly have some sitting around your garage or basement, would you please please bring them back right now? They cost $12 in materials alone to build, and we need them immediately in order to keep up with the seeding schedule. And all members, please remember to send your glass and lids back every week. I worked in the milkhouse this week which prompts me to also remind you to kindly send those items back clean, with an extra eye to the threads and to both sides of the lids. The marker we use wipes off easily if you do so before putting it in the dishwasher. Afterwards, not so easily. 

That’s the news from Essex Farm for this first-peepers 14th week of 2022. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, or on the farm, any day but Sunday. 

-Kristin & Mark Kimball