A word about Irene and farming.
The image to the left is an image of flood damage at Gildrien Farm in Middlebury, VT courtesy of Hurricane Irene. This storm has wreaked havoc on a good deal of Vermont, the Catskills and Schoharie County in New York.
Most farmers are prepared for some spring flooding, but for most, that’s not the time of year when there’s “money in the ground”. For vegetable farmers, there was a lot to lose right now. For a farmer who needs to bring in that crop of corn to feed their cows for the winter, this is absolutely devastating. Organic farmers who had the river rise up and swamp their fields also have to contend with the problem as to what was in that river when it flowed over top. That field probably can’t be certified organic again for at least 3 years.
Farming is not an easy life. I say this with the full distance of being a part-timer with relatively little on the line. I only make enough money farming to pay for the farming. My bills are paid by my 9 to 5. I also say this knowing full well that deep down, I really want farm life, warts and all. And even though my farm got off easy, Irene makes me think twice about that want.
What it really does though, is to make me want to figure out a way to help the farmers who have been kicked in the teeth by this thing. The truth is that farmers are a resilient lot. That comes from a life that is full of uncertainty and risks. Most (probably not all) will be back next year bent, but not beaten.
Kathleen and I are going to be going to the Bennington Garlic Festival this weekend. We’ve decided to donate 5% of our sales to the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund. When Saugerties rolls around at the end of the month, we’ll be looking for a more NY centric version of the same thing. This is a small gesture, but we hope that some of you can make a donation as well and make it a bigger gesture.
Beyond giving money, do your best to patronize your local farmer.
Farms are the ultimate security for a community. I have no doubt that some of the communities that are currently cut off from the rest of the world in Vermont are finding out how important it is to have a local food source.