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Essex Farm Note

Week 37, 2013

This was the first full week of Jane’s first year at public school. She was fine getting on the bus, she had a ball in class, and she loved meeting new friends. She had one concern: lunch. Why did she have to have all the usual home-grown stuff in her lunchbox while her classmates brought those bright and coveted “things from the store” that she hasn’t learned the names of yet? Ah! Because the food in your lunchbox is the center of our family’s culture, I thought. It governs the rhythm of our day and of our year. It is our sustenance, our living, our lifestyle. And because that pork belly and sauerkraut sandwich I made for you totally rocked. Then I tried to get all of that into language she would understand. “Our food,” I said, “is what we do. It is one of the things that makes our family special.” She took that in gravely, and I haven’t heard mention of store-bought things since.

We got a little shout out from the Washington Post this week, in a story on whole-diet CSAs in the DC area. The reporter called us because the farmers she interviewed had mentioned Essex Farm as an inspiration. That feels nice but the exciting part is the fact that there are enough whole-diet CSAs in the greater DC area (three!) to merit a story. We were aware of two of them but three makes it a movement. We mark ten years on this farm on November 1st. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring as this concept spreads across the country.

One of our members came to pick up some oats this week only to find a vast amount of salt from the salt bin mixed with the oats in the oats bin. I strongly suspect that someone under the age of ten could not resist the sand-table-like temptation to play with it.

So much news to report, so little time. The baler broke last Friday, as Mark was working on the 19 round bales of precious second cut we had down. Dave Lincoln came over and baled up the rest of it for us. Now we’re waiting for parts and some dry weather so we can keep going. We got the buckwheat spread with compost, and disked down for winter wheat; just as the wheat planting started it began to rain. When the sun dries the fields we’ll try again. Jenny led a crew of late-season weeders through the vegetables, grabbing everything that was close to seed. Cory, Matt and Scott focused on slaughtering pigs. They are a perfect size now, and we’d rather have them in the freezer than eating our dear, dear grain. The beef herd is calving nicely, 11 on the ground so far. The flies have relented in this cooler weather, which means we don’t have to worry quite so much about fly strike. The tomatoes are still producing but it is no longer the red tsunami it has been the last couple weeks. I managed to can (yes, actually can) a case of sauce this week, and put two cases of salsa in the freezer. Hoping to get the year’s worth of cilantro processed this week. I experimented with roasting ears of field corn, but they are a week or two too mature to be enjoyable. I also experimented with boiling the green soybeans for edamame. We missed out on planting our usual variety, Beer Friend, because the seed was backordered this spring. I was hoping the generic field soybeans would be an acceptable substitute, but it turns out variety really does matter. The beans are small and the lining of the pod is tough and it’s impossible to squeeze out the bean without getting a mouthful of pod lining. Huge thanks to Zac Martin who has volunteered this month and will be heading back to Austin soon. Happy birthday to Aubry and to our now three year old (!) Miranda. We will toast both of them tonight at team dinner. We will also toast Jenny and Liam, but perhaps with a tear or two. Today is their last day. We are so grateful for what they brought to this farm. And that is the news from Essex Farm for this farewell! 37th week of 2013.

-Kristin & Mark Kimball

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