Essex Farm Note

Week 26, 2018

We have the light. Now, here comes the heat. We are readying the farm for high temperatures this weekend, with a predicted heat index, on Sunday, of 105 degrees. That weather will probably hang over us for a few long days. All the animal groups will need good shade, which means a lot of animals will be on the move today, heading for the hedgerows. The plants, on the other hand, love nothing more than a bit of a heatwave after an inch of rain at the end of June. Grow, babies, grow. The part of the farm that I get most concerned about in weather like this is the farmers. We have to stay hydrated and take breaks, and we’ll adjust hours, to avoid the hottest part of the day. Harvest starts at 4:30 on Sunday morning, for our NYC delivery on Tuesday. Extreme early birds (or super-extreme night owls?) are welcome to join us.

That rain brought us .93”, to be exact, and we cheered every hundredth we got. The pastures have been slow to recover from spring grazing because of dry soil, and we would have been in a real pinch without the 65 acres of oat/pea forage we planted, which have fed sheep, cows, and pigs. The pastures should come on nicely now that they’ve been watered, but we still have some big decisions to make. The oat/pea is reaching maturity, with the nitrogen beginning to move from the roots to the fattening peas and oats; the longer we graze it to feed the animals, the less value it has to the soil. As usual, it’s a balancing act, and the decision, a bit of a gamble.

We just heard we didn’t make the first round of awards for the VAPG we applied for, to support the development of an on-farm dairy plant. There’s still a chance for us in the second round, but hopes are a little dimmer this week. Sadly, this will be our last chance, since mandatory funding for this program was cut in the House version of the new Farm Bill that narrowly passed last week, along with, unbelievably, cost share for organic certification (NOCCSP), which puts the benefits of organic certification within reach for farms of all sizes – benefits that accrue not just to the farms that receive them but to the whole local economy. On the food-access side, the House version cuts availability of SNAP benefits to low-income families while simultaneously increasing subsidies for wealthy ‘farmers’ and their extended families, by adding a loophole that eliminates the means test. The bipartisan Senate version, which passed last night, is much better, but now the reconciliation process begins. Our representative in district 21, Elise Stefanik, voted yes on the House version. I have already written to her to ask for a Farm Bill that’s better for the farmers (and the eaters) of our district. If you are a constituent of NY21 and want to politely let her know what you think, you can reach her office at 202 225-4611, or send an email through her web site, https://stefanik.house.gov/contact. Being polite and specific helps.

What else? We’re on the backside of strawberry season now. The heat will not be kind to them. Still working on deer control in the main vegetable field, but making some headway. The cows are producing beautifully on the luscious oat/pea. Corn is coming, soy is up, and that’s the news for this fast-growing 26th week of

2018. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on the web and Insta at essexfarmcsa, or on the farm, any day but Sunday.

–Kristin & Mark Kimball

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