The waters from Hurricane Irene and subsequent tropical rains may have receded, but farmers in Vermont and upstate New York will be engulfed by financial woes for a long time to come. With this season's crops lost to water damage, the year's entire investment and income is lost, and only time can tell how the land will fare for next year's planting.
In September, iReporter Mirra Fine and Chef Daniel Klein of The Perennial Plate - an online weekly series dedicated to "adventurous and sustainable eating" - visited Ray Bradley of Bradley Farms and his neighbor Pete Taliaferro of Talafierro Farms in New Paltz, New York. The filmmakers surveyed the devastation along with the farmers - both trying to weigh their options.
On a personal note - in the mid-90s, I lived just down the road from where Bradley Farms now stands. Everyone who lives at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains is prepared for a heftier than average challenge from Mother Nature. Residents are frozen into their homes for days and weeks at a time by tremendous snowfall, then flooded in again when it thaws in spring and runs down the mountain. They are prepared to face hardship, but this was something more massive and unstoppable than anyone could have possibly anticipated.
This all goes to say that if you've ever had the urge to join a Community Supported Agriculture group, there's never been a better time. CSA support is what's keeping some small farms afloat right now, and if you can weather a slightly less fruitful season in the short term, you'll likely be blessed with great bounty in the years to come.
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