by Pam Denholm
Well, this has been a challenging week all round, hasn’t it? Downed trees, loss of power, for those of us on well water that meant no water either, schools delayed opening, cable was down, roads were closed . . . we are pretty lucky though, for most of us on the South Shore Irene was more of an inconvenience than anything else – if you are not a farmer that is. Still, most of the farms we work with (within a 50 mile radius) are plowing on despite some damage to their crops, and still they are not as hard hit as some of the farms near the Connecticut River in Western Mass. or areas in Vermont who were drowned by an ocean of water which is slowly trying to find its way home. Here is a blow-by-blow account of damages . . .
Golden Rule Farm – Frank Albani: Lost all his lettuce, his green peppers were stripped from the plants, and his eggplant field sustained some damage.
Hickory Knoll Farm – Kelly Conway: Corn and sunflowers were completely destroyed; the rest of their organic field is in a mess. Kelly says we are late in the season and she might be able to salvage enough to see it through but they definitely will not have the quantities they were expecting before.
C.N Smith Farm – Callie Smith: Lost several acres of corn, and about 100 fruit trees were knocked over, plus some of the ‘nearing ripe’ fruit was pulled from the trees. They were quite hard hit but fortunately their buildings sustained no damage and even though they lost power, they had a strong enough generator to power the cold rooms that store much of their crops.
Lipinski Farm – Steve Lipinski: Steve lost one of his greenhouses, he and his brother tried in vain to save it in the midst of high winds. He also lost about 5 acres of corn, and his fall fields of zucchini and winter squash. It is now too late to replant these fields; the plants were stripped bare of leaves. His melon plants also sustained some damage and we will have to wait to see how they recover.
Plato’s Harvest – Dave Purpura: Fields sustained some damage, but fortunately much of it is salvageable.
Sauchuk Farm – Scott Sauchuk: Some of his corn has been flattened but remarkably his corn maze has survived and will recover in time for the grand opening in the second half of September.
From further afield (Western Mass). . .
Enterprise Farm, South Deerfield, MA: A water facility in Greenfield has been compromised flooding the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers and the EPA hasn’t had time to assess the pollution level yet. No product has been or will be cut or shipped from their field flooded by these rivers. They are not sure the crop has even survived, and are waiting for word as to the proper actions to take if it has.
Equinox Farm, Sheffield, MA: Some fields are flooded but green house is fine.
Smiarowski Farm, Sunderland, MA: Remarkably lucky since this farm is very close to the CT river. The farm next door lost their entire potato crop and topsoil in all their fields. Farmer Charlie reported his fields made it through and he has a good supply of produce left.
Lakeside Organics/Czajkowski Farm, Hadley, MA: Farmer Joe reported 4/5 out of his 45 fields are under water. He considers his farm to be very lucky.
All in all it has been a very challenging year for our farmers, starting with a heavy winter snow that wouldn’t melt and a late spring. Fall crops had to be established in a very hot and dry July, followed by a very wet August and only to face the onslaught of Irene. Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland noted that this may be their leanest fall season since starting their operation, and they are not alone. Thank you for supporting our local farms this season, and this week in particular – they do appreciate it.
One of the easiest ways to support a local farmer is by shopping a Farmers’ Market. Click here to see edible South Shore’s complete list of area Farmers’ Markets.