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The Great Flood of 2011

September 9, 2011

Lately, living in Central Pennsylvania has meant hurricanes and earthquakes. This week, it also means flooding. We are okay, however many people in Selinsgrove and other nearby communities along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries were evacuated and are returning home to clean up from flood damage. We spent yesterday helping family to pack up and get to higher ground, and today moving them back home.

Our garden is absolutely soggy. We debated for quite a while about what to do. If we harvest today, then we’ll do serious damage. Walking in the garden when it is this wet compacts the soil. Harvesting from wet plants can cause disease to spread. To make matters worse, many of our tomatoes have split because of all the rain and most of our beans are overgrown. However, we worry about disappointing customers who may come to market and find we are not there. We also worry because the Harvest Festival is next Saturday the 17th, and we want to remind people to come with their family and friends for all the festivities. (Check out the details here.) Finally, we decided not to harvest today. That means we will not be at the Selinsgrove Farmer’s Market tomorrow.

Watching the news, we are reminded that we are lucky. We could be dealing with severe flood damage. Our hearts especially go out to people in Vermont who have been hit twice in a row by flooding. When I heard about what happened to Evening Song CSA in Vermont after Hurricane Irene came through, I tried to imagine what we would do in the case of a natural disaster. Their 10 acre vegetable farm is now completely torn apart, as the nearby creek moved into the middle of their fields. It did not just wash away topsoil. Instead, the creek bed actually relocated. Rather than having a farm, they now have a creek. To make matters worse, the FDA has announced that all food crops exposed to flood waters are at risk for bacterial exposure and should not enter the food system. That means many farmers will take a huge hit in their income this year. It helps somewhat that many farmers have crop insurance and the USDA offers loans to help farmers get through emergencies like these. However, most farmers are already getting by on a slim income.

We’re lucky that all we’re dealing with is a very soggy garden, due to the rain. Still, as we notice an increase in extreme weather conditions, small farmers are confronted by new challenges to growing food for our communities. It helps that we grow a diversity of crops. Although the tomatoes dislike this cool, wet weather, the beans and the squash are growing by leaps and bounds. Our sweet peas also enjoy this weather and most of the seeds planted last week have germinated. Growing many different things is one way to insure that no matter the weather, something will thrive. After all this adversity, we genuinely look forward to celebrating the Harvest Festival with you all next week. Thank you for your patience, and we hope all of you are fairing well.

As always, email questions to seriousfarms@gmail.com and keep in touch with us on our Facebook Page.

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