Flood Devastates Fall Crops

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After last week’s heavy rain swept through the region, a deluge of water launched into the Winooski River.  On Thursday evening, we knew there was a significant flood predicted for the Intervale, and on Friday we frantically harvested our most important storage crops out of low-lying fields.  By the end of the day, our bodies were tired and the cooler was packed to the brim.  That evening, the river rose, and by Saturday afternoon, much of the Intervale was under water.

The biggest impact was in our back field, ironically known as “Easter Island”, where all of our fall Brassica (cabbage family) crops were planted.  This includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, kale, daikon radishes, turnips, rutabegas, and kohlrabi.  In addition, our swiss chard, leeks, and sweet potatoes were also in that field.  All of these crops were submerged beneath 1.5 – 5 feet of water.  Our main production field, which is on higher land, sustained relatively minor damage; the biggest losses there were our fall salad greens and some spinach.  Most of our root crops remained unscathed.  Other farms in the Intervale also suffered significant losses; farmers are estimating a collective loss of nearly $100,000 worth of produce.

There is no concrete information on harvesting post-flooded food, but most recommendations make it clear that any leafy greens or vegetables with wrapper leaves (like cabbage and Brussels Sprouts) are unfit for consumption.  Flood water carries unknown contaminents from upstream, and it is considered risky to immediately consume raw food that has come into contact with that water.  Cooked foods, such as rutabega (everyone’s favorite crop), are safe to eat.

After assessing the damage and mourning the loss of many of our beloved crops, we are taking action.  We’ve cut back kale, chard, and broccoli with the hopes that there will be some sprouting before the winter share.  We’ve also cut back some previous salad mix plantings with the hopes of regrowth for the remainder of summer shares.  Nevertheless, we expect a significant decrease in share bulk for the remainder of summer share in the salad mix and “greens choice”.  This may even mean our summer share ending a few weeks early (check back for updates on that).

All of the sad news aside, it’s been a fantastic season so far.  Our share values are high pre-flood, and once we’ve tallied up the 2010 season, we’re likely to still show a great value for the share price.  And it is more apparent than ever how fortunate we are to be a Community Supported Agriculture Farm; crop losses tear our hearts out, but in the end, we know we are part of a community that supports the ICF regardless of devastating floods.  So thank you to everyone for your support…and here’s to a fall full of fantastic root vegetables!

One thought on “Flood Devastates Fall Crops

  1. Amazing photos that tell the sad story. Thanks for sharing these! and how the CSA works to help support farming through times like these…

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