U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was at the Essex Farm as part of a swing through northern New York today.
Schumer, a Democrat, was at the Essex Farm to tour the CSA and explore the link between agriculture and technology. He Schumer hopped onto a horse-drawn hay wagon to tour the 1,200-acre farm.
Mark Kimball: "We have a new taxi for you if you’re interested?"
Schumer: "Oh look at that. What kind of horses are those."
Kimball: "They’re Belgian horses. So Senator let’s jump on. Jonas are you ready?"
He rode past grazing cows and sheep, a poultry barn, solar panels and extensive vegetable crops.
While riding past he was curious about what was growing and even sampled some of the produce that was hand-picked in front of him.
Schumer: “Stop. Okay let’s start there. What’s that?”
Mark Kimball: “Strawberries.”
Mark Kimball: “Sorrell.”
Schumer: “Sorrell? Next.”
Mark Kimball: “Parsley.”
Schumer: “Parsley is So good.”
Kristin Kimball: “It’s good right?”
Schumer stood in the field to praise the daily work of the farm and its adaption of technology. “What’s amazing about this farm in addition to the great job that is done here is that Microsoft is here and they’re going to try to make living and working on a farm like this easier by setting up broadband by having wifi, not just in a room of your house, but through hundreds and hundreds of acres so the farmers can communicate with each other. Sensors so you can see if a sheep or a cow or crops are in some kind of trouble. So it’s an amazing combination.”
Essex Farm owner Mark Kimball, who has Amish employees, said they are trying to integrate traditional farming with modern technology. “We’re trying to save the world one farm at a time and we’re trying to figure out how to do that environmentally and socially and financially. And certainly draft horses as a huge part of the farm for us and has been since the beginning. But at the same time as we look out at 1,200 acres we’ve realized that we also need to bring modern technology to bear to connect all the different facets of the farm. We’ve got 20 different animal groups, 200 different crop areas. How do we produce in a more intelligent way led us to adopt in addition to 80 year old horse cultivators modern sensors and wifi connectivity. So it was an interesting step from some of the oldest style farming and then merging that with emerging technology.”
Microsoft representatives joined Senator Schumer on the tour. Airband Initiative Senior Director Paul Garnett says they are pioneering technologies that range from narrow band sensors to broadband access. “Agriculture is actually the biggest industry on the planet. People are often surprised by that. And so for us it’s really important for us to understand how we can help use our technologies to enable farmers to be more productive and be better stewards of the land and of the environment. So connectivity. So connections to sensors that are in cooling units that measure temperature and humidity or a sensor in the field and cloud-based services to provide information to farmers so that they know when to plant, when to water, how to water, where to apply insecticide and pesticide if they need to use that in a much smarter way than they have in the past.”
Senator Schumer was also in the Adirondacks Friday to highlight concerns that an EPA rollback of emissions standards could trigger acid rain deposition in the region.