The serious faces certainly don’t reflect the lovely evening we had at Josh & Patricia’s house last Thursday- but what it does reflect is the seriousness of the situation our valley farmers are currently facing. Their intent was an informal gathering with food, friends, and a few laughs, and to give and get some emotional support in the midst of this very rough start to the 2019 growing season.
With temps a few degrees below average and substantially more rain than normal, most local farmers are lucky to have even 50% of their crops in the fields that are simply too wet to work in. Some crops won’t survive all of that standing rain, and some won’t even get planted before it becomes too late for them to have time to mature and be harvested. Then there are the crops with such delayed growth that the second planting seedlings, waiting patiently in the greenhouse, have almost matched the size of those planted out. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that it is. Rather than a steady stream of succession planted vegetables stretching over the whole season, the bulk will now be ready all at once. The market becomes flooded, prices drop, and the already slim margins in food farming all but disappear. Farm labourers are also working less hours, getting smaller pay cheques, and adding fewer dollars back into our local economy. The trickle down gets scary when you really start to think about it.
It’s not all doom & gloom….. Josh recalled a year that saw a total crop failure of Ontario apples, creating a massive spike in demand for those grown in Nova Scotia. A farmers loss is usually another farmers gain with an unusually large market share. Up & down, feast or famine. Most farms will struggle through, but some won’t. Others that had managed to limp through the losses of last year’s killing frost in June may buckle under the weight of a fresh wave of setbacks. For the rest, there will be that frustrating time of the year- deep into the dog days of summer- where people who don’t farm have all but forgotten this waterlogged spring. The farmers who are getting half of their normal price for zucchini or who are seeing locals buy corn from other provinces because ours is so late to market haven’t forgotten.
This is all part of why buying local matters. Why signing up for a CSA matters. If we want the option of beautiful, locally grown food, we need to support it with our dollars, or it will disappear, one field, or one farm at a time. If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re already a Taproot CSA member, so how can you help, given that you’re already supporting your local farmer?
Easy. Spread the word.
Local matters, farms matter, good agricultural practices matter, as does good stewardship of this land. Spread the word that good food matters so that we’re all ensuring it remains possible for farmers to keep providing us with it.