When we launched our upgraded website last spring, it resulted in a reaffirmation of our mission: to promote local and sustainable agriculture that cares for people, animals, land and water. At that time, we celebrated our nine years of support for the good food movement.
Now, at this challenging moment in human history, we all are confronting a global pandemic which is causing too many to panic. Sadly, it’s been widely reported that gun stores are seeing a run on weapons and ammunition.
But instead of panic, this is the right moment to build community. One way is to focus on our food, which is at the core of human existence, in good times and bad, and by mindfully knowing who is growing and producing what we eat.
Kristin Kimball, whose two memoirs The Dirty Life, A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love (2011) and Good Husbandry, Growing Food, Love, and Family on Essex Farm (2019) we’ve highly recommended, also shares a much appreciated weekly farm note from Essex Farm in upstate New York’s north country that is not to be missed. You don’t need to be a shareholder in Essex Farm’s full diet, year-round CSA to subscribe to Kimball’s farm notes.
In her recent Essex Farm Note Week 10, during this time of much anxiety, her words are an incisive reminder of how we should eat:
What’s clearly not sustainable or desirable is turning cheap commodity crops into fake food so highly processed its details are laboratory secrets. That does yield big profit! Not for the farmer, but for the corporations. If we want to keep diversified local farms viable, we have to believe there’s real value in responsibly produced whole food, and put our food dollars into buying them, and our time into preparing them.
As we head into spring, folks who have a backyard garden are simply stated, blessed. Gardener’s Supply Company expressed it well in a recent e-mail noting that it is open for business: Our gardens are a place of sustenance, security, and solace.
But if you can’t grow your own food, we’ve often noted that the next best way to source the food you eat is to join a farm community and actually know your farmer by signing up for a farm share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) family-scale farm. Simply stated: There’s a feeling of mutual well-being at the weekly pick-up of a farm share.
In a Special Edition Essex Farm Note received this week, Kimball writes that Essex Farm, which she operates with her husband Mark, is sitting on about half a billion calories of nutritious food for people right now, and have the capacity to produce many times that this year. Readers should know, that Essex Farm has the capacity, according to Kimball, right now to feed 40 more delivered households plus another 45 local households.
If you are not ready (or able geographically) to subscribe to Essex Farm’s year-round, full diet CSA farm share, this spring is the right time to find some sustenance, security and solace in a seasonal farm share. Our CSA directories have listings of seasonal farm shares throughout the United States and Canada.
In March, 2020, what makes joining a CSA farm even more attractive, is the social distancing practices recommended to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus which has impacted the operation of farmers markets. We’ve also often noted that the next best way to know where your food comes from if you can’t grow your own and don’t participate in a CSA farm, is to patronize a particular farm stand at a farmers market, which can enable a consumer to know exactly how and where your food is produced.
Unfortunately, it has become difficult for farmers markets to maintain operation at this challenging period. For example, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, the destination farmers market in the Capital Region of New York, has advised in its latest newsletter that it will continue to stay closed until further notice and it will assess the status of the Market with the City of Troy and Rensselaer County on a weekly basis. But on its website, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market is providing information on how to Buy direct from TWFM vendors. Bravo!
Finally, for consumers unable to grow their own food or participate in a CSA farm or shop regularly at a farmers market, we’ve noted often that shopping at a food co-operative, like my hometown Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, NY, is a way to source organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables and other nutritious food. And becoming a member of a food co-operative enables consumers to become involved in a community of people mindful of the way their food is produced.
It is a challenging time, but resist the panic and fear and seek to build community around the food we need in order to live a healthy and good life.
(Frank W. Barrie, 3/21/20)