The state of Vermont, known for its thriving food and farm culture, is near and dear to me. Right now, my fiance lives there, and in about a month I will too. Irene hit Vermont hard. In fact, the storm was the worst natural disaster to hit the state in almost 100 years. Vermonters watched as roads crumbled and bridges and homes washed away.
I got an email earlier this week from a friend who owns Fat Toad Farm in Brookfield, in the north-central part of the state, where she, with her family, raises goats and makes amazing goat’s milk caramel and fresh goat cheese. She was helping spread the word about a fundraiser for a neighbor, Evening Song Farm, whose fields were completely washed away by floods. Once a thriving CSA, Evening Song’s owners now do not know if they will ever be able to plant on their land again.
Unfortunately, many farms up and down the state flooded, leaving farmers with a lot of loss and a lot to clean up. Delicate summer crops are gone, as are produce (like root vegetables and hearty greens) that farmers store and sell throughout the winter. There is soil erosion and mildew, toxic silt and wrecked greenhouses. In short: it’s a mess.
There are ways to help. If you don’t live in the North Country, you can donate to the Vermont Farm Fund Emergency Loan Program, or to one of the newly set up local funds: Intervale Center Farmers’ Recovery Fund and the Mad River Valley Community Fund. Stay up to date on the recovery with Rural Vermont, an organization committed to preserving the state’s rural economy, which has its own list of suggestions for helping here.
(photo courtesy of Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for the Burlington Free Press)