How One Farm is Reinventing Agriculture for Better Food and a Brighter Future


Organic Farm
Photo by iStock/Redrockschool

Old McDonald of E-I-E-I-O fame would feel right at home on Essex Farm, a 600-acre spread in upstate New York where the future of American agriculture is being radically reconceived.

For the past 60 years, farmers have been encouraged, seduced and coerced by agribusiness and federal policies to become ever more specialized.  So it’s surprising to walk through a modern farmyard and hear a moo-moo here and an oink-oink there, and see 50 different kinds of vegetables growing in the fields.

And that’s just the beginning of what farmer and writer Kristin Kimball—working with her husband Mark and eight other full-time farmers—provide for 222 members in the Adirondacks and New York City.

Members of their “full-diet” CSA (community supported agriculture) receive a weekly year-round Cornucopia, which can include beef, pork, chicken, lamb, eggs, lard and dairy products. Plus fresh veggies—greens, lettuce, tomatoes, tomatillos, carrots, several varieties of peppers, cabbage, squash, eggplant, beets, onions, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi and more.  Then there’s fresh fruit—strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, rhubarb.  Grains too—four kinds of flour, cornmeal, steel cut and rolled oats, wheatberries, pancake mix, frozen bread dough. Don’t forget herbs—sage, mint, chives, fennel, meatloaf mix.  And to round out meals—sauerkraut, popcorn and maple syrup. On top of all this, farm-made soap.

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