Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Delivering Food after THE FLOOD

The first three weeks of August had been rainy. But the damp and wet that had been inconvenient in the garden (delayed fall seedings and rampant weeds in beds too muddy to cultivate), became devastating when we recieved 6.5 inches of rain in about 8 hours overnight on the 23rd/24th.

We'd gone to bed exhausted that night as Thursday had been a long day with chicken projects. Friday promised to be even busier, as we had to harvest for 50 veggie boxes and two markets. As we slept, it rained and rained and rained. When we woke up and went out to survey the garden, we found that fully a third of the garden was under water. Three hundred of our heirloom tomato plants were under 18 inches of water, three quarters of an acre of potatoes were underwater and 400 two week old chicks just put out to pasture had drowned.

When Beth came in from looking at the field that morning, she thought our season was over, surely we wouldn't have a harvest today or any time soon. Jody said "Let's go take a look and see what's left out there. As we waded throught the beds, it was pretty devastating; however, it wasn't a 100 percent loss. In fact there would be a harvest today - there had to be as potatoes floating in the water would be a total loss, if they weren't taken out immediately.

With the help of Ben and Joe (occasional farm staff at Cedar Valley), we proceeded to pull potatoes from the watery muck of vines, mulch, and many thousands of earthworms. We'd definitely have potatoes for the shares this week and enough to hold for next week. Actually, we proceeded to harvest a very generous amount (there was more to salvage than we'd thought) of veggies for our share member's boxes. The next few weeks were a challenge to fill shares as potatoes and tomatoes are a late summer staple. We, also, lost basil, onions, green beans, turnips and two big beds of rutabagas that were planned for fall boxes.

Fortunately, we were able to buy some vegetables in from another CSA farm to help round out our boxes. As soon, as the ground was dry we started seeding fast growing crops (salad mix, radishes, spinach, turnips) that would help us fill boxes later in the season. Four weeks after the flood, we took one week off from CSA deliveries to let the beds we'd been harvesting rest and the newly planted beds to grow. Our members were very understanding. Because we had begunn our season a week late (cold wet spring) and much of our fall seeding was delayed, we decided to add a week on to our share deliviveries. Despite the devasting flood of August 2007, our members recieved 23 out of the 24 weeks of vegetables we'd initially promised in the spring.

It was a trying season, but we were very proud of the value we delivered to our members.