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Essex Farm Note

Week 40, 2016

It was a harvest week, one of the busiest of the year. A frost or freeze was predicted for dawn on Monday, so most of the crew kindly came over on Sunday to bring in the bumper crop of sweet and hot peppers from the field called Superjoy, which lies in a frost-vulnerable dip below the sugarbush hill. It was a beautiful day and a fun harvest, and there is a big haul of peppers in the share this week to show for it. (Did you know peppers are one of the vegetables you can freeze without blanching? Take plenty.) Of course, the frost was light enough to leave them unscathed after all the hustle to bring them in. The raspberries in Monument Field made it through the night, too. 25 pounds of them went to the Hub on the Hill for flash freezing this week, and will show up in the share this winter. On a roll, The Hub processed fermented hot pepper sauce from our big cayenne harvest, and turned 500 pounds of concord grapes that our crew harvested at Lewis Family Farm into juice and jam for all of us. Hooray, Hub, and thanks to Jori and her crew for all the hard work this week.

Everyone stayed late last night to get the carrot harvest in. The yield was lower than we’d hoped, mostly because of lack of rain, but the carrots are delicious, and fear not, there are plenty for members for the year, just not quite enough for wholesale. Potatoes are in, too. The dry bean harvest was complicated by a heavy load of weeds, but they home, and drying in the sun. This is a pretty mottled red baking variety called Kind of the Early. Members, we hope you’ll take some to cook this week, but note that they aren’t yet dry enough to keep unrefrigerated; take enough for one week, and keep them in the refrigerator. They cook a bit faster than fully dry beans. Pie pumpkins and carving pumpkins are in, available for members and for retail sale at the farm store. In short, pumpkins everywhere.

There were also many hours of ancillary fall vegetable work not directly related to what you are eating this week, but essential to what you will be eating next year: specifically, compost spreading (multiple tons) and cover crop planting (rye). We have to feed the soil so the soil will feed us. Speaking of compost, we got eight dump truck loads of gravel and rock this week, to make the drip trenches around the existing barns, part 1a of the grand, grant-funded new composting barn project. The drip trenches will reduce barnyard mud and hence, runoff.

Say hi to Morgan Looney, who has joined us from his home in Georgia, and is working on the dairy and vegetable teams. We are so glad he’s here. We’re also happy to note that Alex is taking over from me as dairy team leader, as I prepare to push through an intense month of writing. I’m going to miss my daily work with the cows but feel wonderful about leaving them in Alex’s capable hands. Finally, Mark will be leading our last farm tour of the year next Saturday, October 8th. Tours are always free for members (non-members, $25 suggested donation) and give good insight into the why of the how we do things around here. The tour starts at 10am with a potluck lunch to follow. Bring a dish to share and your own place setting. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this frost-nipped 40th week of 2016. – Kristin & Mark Kimball

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