Storm Views and Supporting Northeastern Farmers

Thought you might want to see what the storm looked like from here. Let me note that this is a pretty minor situation - the farms in the valley that we rely most heavily on lost *all* of their crops - the whole thing was swept away by the storm.


Still, I admit, I broke into the chocolate the first time I saw my garden under the water.


You can see my poor flattened corn up there and a few cheerful echinacea flowers that at least for now have survived the flood. The back beds are wetland native herbs and plants - they at least will probably make it.


You can see the raging torrent that our creek became (it is normally a quiet little stream) - at its peak, that was about 8 feet from the house (normally a lot further). Also see the honey locust that landed right behind the back bedroom.


There's the locust and a glimpse of the lake that formed on our backyard pasture.

And here's the other big downed tree, right in front of the buck barn:


All in all, it wasn't so bad - our farm will lose a lot of our late season herb crops, many of the flowers we had intended for our friends and our self-provisioning vegetables - some were already put away, of course, but a lot weren't, and most of it is toast. It will cost us some money and time in repairs, but we, the livestock and the house are safe, and we can go forward. If you want to see more of how this was for some others, Kathy McMahon has a great post about her experience with pictures from Central Massachusetts.

The farms in the Schoharie Valley, down the hill from us, however, and others in the Hudson, Catskills and along the Mohawk weren't so lucky - many of them lost *ALL* their crops, and some lost buildings as well. For those of us in this region, please remember and help your local farmers anyway you can - most of them will struggle to rebuild after this disaster and to go forward. I'm working on brainstorming some kind of organized response for Northeastern small farmers struggling with Hurricane Irene's damage, and welcome suggestions if you have them for how to help!


More like this

hiya; been doing a little more digging regarding the program we benefited from in 2008- it was harder to dig out than I thought; apparently it was really a one-time fund raising effort; by the IATP:

At a January reception in Minneapolis, the Sow the Seeds Fund celebrated an effort that donated $383,900 to 31 farms in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa that were damaged by massive storms in August 2007."

I got $5k for a replacement walking tractor; no strings, 1 page of questions to fill out to apply. They saved a lot of butts; and it was focused on small sustainable farmers.

they might be able to tell you how they pulled it off- and they're great networkers; likely have connections in your region they might share.


We got so lucky here, Sharon. While the Connecticut River is the highest I can recall seeing it, *we* had clusters of oak leaves and some twigs on the ground. Oh, and the barn floor is squishy. Aside from that, nada. Even my corn is still upright and happy. I'm very sorry for your losses - at least once my doggone fence is finished, I can provide some cash for you when I bring my goats home. Will keep you posted....


I am hoping that many of the 'lost' crops come through with at least a partial yield.

I assume you are right, that economically anything that might survive to harvest is useless, it won't cover expenses. But I still hope . .

Blessed be.

I only find very piecemeal news about farmer impacts from Irene but it is very thought provoking -- and almost all of it relates to small farmers.
One of the farmers we patronize just emailed that many of their neighbors had their feed crops flattened and friends of theirs in New England/NY area were dumping milk because the trucks couldn't get in and had lost not only buildings and crops but also cows due to a dam failure.
I just read about a concern down here in south Jersey where blueberry fields remain covered with water with concerns about root death affecting next year (we're past blueberry harvest here).
While the impact on us personally was negligible the whole thing is interesting from a preparedness angle (and I don't mean to trivialize more serious consequences) -- I have friends who are scurrying around borrowing freezer space since they are on the one block with no power in their town (and low priority). And there's the whole make hay while the sun shines aspect -- I delayed getting peaches to put up since the season would normally last a few more weeks, but the storm may have really affected the late peach harvest.

By Susan in NJ (not verified) on 31 Aug 2011 #permalink

Unfortunately, there was so much septic waste backed up, and the fuel tanks from the local oil suppliers overturned, so much of the food, even if technically salvageable, probably won't make it.

And Susan trust me, I'm kicking myself for not having made more salsa earlier in the year!


Grim about the septic waste and chemicals. It's VERY hard to contemplate- but- places that flooded this time; and or almost flooded- may be places to move out of crop production; and into timber or pasture.

The floods will continue; and get worse. That's what climate change; otherwise known as climate weirding, climate collapse, or climate chaos; means. Hard to face- but. There it is.

We must be ready for a great many stories like this as global climate change brings more and more weather like no one has seen in historical times. Climate change is going to make refugees out of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. Government and private resources will not be adequate to make most of these people financially whole, entirely aside from their personal tragedies, large and small. Farms and homes, and beloved places will be destroyed or altered beyond recognition. Historical places which have stood for hundreds or just scores of years will be blown away, washed away, or burned down. The world is changing and probably not for the better as far as the creatures and ecosystems alive today are concerned.

Greenpa, thanks for the program info - I'm definitely going to propose something like it. As for moving the flooded areas out of production - I don't think that's likely at this stage. After all, the flooding is how those became the best soils in the area, right? I would think a more likely scenario is one that adapts to regular flooding in spring and fall - eventually it might be necessary, of course, but in the nearer term, the most fertile soils in the region are the ones that get flooded out regularly - even the sewage will eventually be a net gain...eventually.


I'm not so sure about the sewage being a net gain. Nutrient rich, sure, but municipal sewage also contains a lot of undesirable components - pharmaceuticals, household chems or anything else people washed down the drain, etc.

By Thrivalista (not verified) on 01 Sep 2011 #permalink

Her Åeyi bize etkisi kiÅisel önemsiz iken bir hazırlık açıdan ilginç (ve daha ciddi sonuçları önemsizleÅtirmek anlamına gelmez) - Ben bir blok ile borçlanma dondurucu alanı etrafında scurrying arkadaÅlarım var kendi kasabasında hiçbir güç (ve düÅük öncelikli).

We've been farming in the western Catskills for 11 years. The flooding gets more and more frequent. "100 year" floods almost every year. Our crop was wiped out by Irene, as were many central/eastern NY farms (not to mention VT). We're having a fundraiser for Catskill farms on Sept. 18. For details contact: or

Alane- exactly. It's going to be difficult; but it really is time to adapt- and not put the crops in those places, any more. Really hard to do- but you are seeing it.

Sharon- I did make previous comment; twice- which for some reason went to "held for approval" - and they never then actually appear. You might want to dig it/them out; there's serious stuff to discuss about what's in the sediment, these days.