Essex Column

— This Saturday, the Aug. 11, Essex Farm hosts a Celebrate Summer open house. Meet in the farmyard at 10 a.m. for a tour of the vegetable, livestock and grain growing enterprises on this large and fascinating farm, which is a mile west of the hamlet on Route 22. The suggested donation is $25 for adults and includes lunch.

The library’s annual bake sale is also this Saturday, to be held on the steps of the Post Office. The sale starts at 9 a.m. and goes until all of the goodies are sold, which happens rather quickly, according to librarian Tom Mangano.

The Totally Tomatoes workshop at the Whallonsburg Grange, originally scheduled for last month, will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15 from 6 to 9p.m. Sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Grange, this hands-on event will be led by Chef Kevin McCarthy of Paul Smiths College. Call the extension office at 962-4810 to reserve a spot.

On Thursday, Aug. 16, folk musicians Pete Sutherland and Rose Diamond will put on a concert at the Essex Community Church. It starts at 11:30 a.m.

The weather of late has been excellent for corn, which as a sub-tropical plant thrives on heat and loves a good thunderstorm. The field corn here in Reber is getting taller by the day. Field corn is grown for livestock feed, while the much more sugary sweet corn is preferred by humans. It’s thought that corn was developed by American Indians in what’s now Mexico about 7,500 years ago, and was widespread in North America by about 4,500 years ago. Indians bred corn for particular locales, so the corn grown in this area differed genetically from corn grown in Central America, for example. The corn plant itself has two flowers, male and female, with the tassel or male flower, such as it is, growing at the top of the plant. The female flower is the cob, with long silks coming out the end of the cob. Microscopic male pollen drops onto the ends of the silks and travels through the silk to pollinate the future seed, which turns into a kernel at maturity. Each individual kernel has its own particular silk, literally hundreds making up an ear. How this precarious system works so well is beyond me, but a steamed ear of fresh corn, served up with some salt and pepper and butter, is a delightful summer treat.

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