Essex Farm Note

Week 25, 2017

The summit has been reached, it’s downhill from here. The first week of summer – these long days of light – is the beginning of the decline into darkness. Isn’t that just like the universe, to deal it out that way? I never know quite how to feel about it, after the exhausting drag race of spring. Relieved, that the workday hours have peaked. Anxious for things left undone. And sad, a little, for the turning of the tide of light. I guess, like all else, we get to choose which one of those emotions to dwell on. Mostly, today, we are looking back at a big satisfying week of work, in which we received another 2.17” of rain, an inch of it in the last 24 hours. The rain was no surprise, and once again we rushed to get the weeds killed before it hit. At one point, we had three tractors, a team of horses and a battalion of people with hoes in the field all at once. Thanks to drained ground, wonderful workers, and good timing, we’ve managed to stay on top of weeds despite the conditions.

            The most joyful work of the week was picking strawberries. Somehow that job always feels like a party to me. The crop is beautiful this year, coming all at once, even though the varieties we planted are evenly divided among early seaon, mid-season and late season. (It seems the early season variety was delayed due to the cool weather.) Everyone who had an extra hour yesterday was on picking, and still we didn’t get them all in by the end of the workday, so Mark and the girls and I headed back out with a picnic supper and lots of baskets and picked until the sun went down and the baskets were full. We’ll have plentiful berries in the share this week, plus quarts for sale in the farm store. 

            The window for seeding grains has closed now. We didn’t get as much planted as we would have liked, but we did the best we could. We’re going to add drainage to two more fields in the fall, and decided to put some resources into improving the soil there this summer. We had some extra soybean seed on hand, so we used that as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop on 17 acres. We’ll plow it under when half the plants have bloomed. Meanwhile, the compost barn project is moving forward. We have approved plans in hand, so now we have to build it. Also, Anne and I have started working on a Value Added Producers grant for 2018. And the DOT has been clearing the ditches on the south side of the farm, which should help keep road runoff out of our fields. Next week the town crew will do the same on the north side of the farm.

            Thanks to Ali from UVM for a wonderful three weeks. It was great to have her. And farewell to dear Phil! Wednesday was his last delivery to our New York City members. Happily, he will remain in the area, so we will miss his work but still get his good company on occasion. Next week we’ll need to say farewell to Anya but we’ll save it for then. We have lots of opportunities for volunteer pickers, especially for the small delicious things we all love to eat: Strawberries now, shell peas next week, snaps soon after, then green beans, cheery tomatoes, raspberries, and more. Also, every Wednesday is chicken slaughter day, so let us know if you want to lend a hand and learn how to do it. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this school’s out!  25th week of 2017. Find us on instagram at kristinxkimball and essexfarmcsa, or essexfarm@gmail.com, 518-645-4658 or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–K&M