Beyond Surreal

These beautiful sweet potato vines are now covered with a whitish silt.

A few weeks ago over 40 people from all around the region came to Kilpatrick Family Farm for a NOFA event where Michael was educating everyone on winter production.

We went out to the field in Granville, a huge field by the Mettowee River, where he grows a portion of his crops. It was such a beautiful day and everyone was just amazed by all the crops.

They were especially wowed by how great the brussels sprouts looked. Man oh man they were really spectacular. They would’ve sold so well this fall and winter. Now they’re still standing but ruined by tropical storm Irene. (Click here for a full article with photos.)

I saw the field when I went to the farm on Friday. The only way I can describe it is that it looked like its soul was gone. Does that even make sense? It looked sad. The muddy, still-drying ground looked like almost like a compacted clay substance and everything had silt on it.

Even though it was a warm sunny day, it just looked so sad. Even worse, some of the stuff looked completely fine, but it isn’t safe for consumption. It will have to be tilled. To add to it, you could smell the putrid stench of rotting hay and straw bales that got soaked in the flooding.

When I was leaving I forgot to even say goodbye to Michael. I was stunned and in a daze. All that food, and money, and effort just gone. All those families who enjoy it so much won’t have it.

But you know what? Everyone has been so nice and understanding and feels so bad. One CSA member at market was almost in tears because she felt so bad. People have already said they’ll stand by the farm no matter what. It’s overwhelming (in a good way) to hear the kind words from customers.

This is why eating local matters. More than any of the other reasons I could ramble on and on about…it really matters to know the people who feed you for times like these so you can boost them up and let them know you care about them and their families.

Also, because in the midst of all this, I was without power and Michael extended the offer of having me stay at his farm. He just lost over $80,000 worth of crops and he was offering hospitality. The people at Purdue or ConAgra certainly aren’t extending those offers my way, nor would I even notice if something hurt their production.

Things will get better though, I know this. I’m completely undeterred by this as well. I will always want a farm. I’m stubborn and I tend to work more with my gut than with my head anyway. This is just another thing to tuck in the back of mind but it certainly doesn’t put me off of the idea of farming.

If you live anywhere near any of the farms that were impacted by the storm, please please help them in some way. Even if it’s just buying some of their products or by saying a caring word. If you live in NY please consider taking part in NOFA’s Locavore Challenge as well.

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