Jewel in a Swamp

Essex Farm Note

Week 24, 2013

I have said before that a farm is like a slot machine: taking taking taking until you forswear the whole game, and then, on the last dime, jackpot. This week the spin kept coming up lemons. Three inches of rain in 30 hours, on top of too much rain last week. The fields too wet to walk on, let along work, and the unplanted seed corn – 50 acres worth – sitting in the granary, a silent reprimand for decisions made and bets placed that cannot now be undone. The price of organic corn is running $650 a ton. I woke up several times in the middle of the night to the sound of the rain and the weight of unwieldy numbers in my head. Then today came, with sun, and a cheery cool drying wind. Mark and I set out for the drained fields after lunch, to see what the plants have done. Suddenly, the world didn’t look so bad. In the drained fields, we have a lot of food coming. The soybeans, five acres worth, are up and lovely, without that poor, yellow cast they always had when we tried to grow them in undrained ground. The potatoes that Liam and Jenny and Cory and Matt planted have breasted the surface of the soil, ten thousand dark green rosettes that are full of health and vigor. The transplants – the peppers, tomatoes, the eggplants – are the best I’ve seen on our place, ever. And the fifteen acres of field corn that we managed to plant, thanks to Cory’s and Liam’s near all-nighters, is three inches tall, looking happy to be here. We have rye that is heading out, too, and dry beans sprouted. Before hurrying back to write this note, Mark and I cruised the strawberries, and found one fat ripe one each. I hope everyone gets a good taste of them in the coming weeks.

We are rich in greens now, and should be for the foreseeable future. Lettuce will be available every week until fall, barring bad luck. If you get sick of fresh salad you can always sauté them gently for a warm wilted side. Garlic scapes will be in the share next week. They are good fresh but even more valuable to me for the freezer: I am using last year’s on a daily basis now, since we are out of head garlic. I blend them up with oil and a little salt and freeze them in ice cube trays, then store them in zip lock bags. Swiss chard and beet greens will be available from now until frost. If you want quantities for your freezer, please order them in advance. This week we have a windfall harvest of spinach. Check the board to see if there is enough for your freezer. The spinach will probably bolt in the next week or two so this is your chance until the fall planting comes in. We are close to the end of asparagus, which needs to begin storing its energy now for next year. And we don’t have chickens this week. The wet cool weather has slowed this batch way down. Hopefully they’ll be big enough to harvest by next week.

I feel a shout out to the whole team is necessary this week. It’s not easy to keep up morale when the rain is falling. Thank you Barbara, Jenny, Amy, Kelsie, Matt, Aubrey, Liam, Cory, Travis, Luke, Isabel, Brandon, Gwen, Jori, Andy, and this week’s volunteers, Leslie and Jared. Thank you too to all who have helped with our marketing effort. It’s working! And that is the news from Essex Farm for this jewel of a day in the swamp of the 24th week of 2013.                                                                            -Kristin & Mark Kimball

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