Irene in the Intervale
I’ve had tears in my eyes so many times over the last 48 hours, seeing the photos of devastation from all over Vermont, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Intervale Community Farm's Barn on Monday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Intervale Community Farm.
Along with dozens of other volunteers, I headed down to the Intervale Monday morning, responding to an emergency call to help harvest all we could before the floodwaters spilled over the banks of the Winooski and into the fields. I used to work at Intervale Community Farm and am now on their board of directors so it was their fields that I headed for, but Diggers’ Mirth and Arethusa were also desperate for help.
Flooding at Intervale Community Farm. Photo by Debbie Krug.
We drove in on dry roads, the floodwaters just creeping up on the outer edges of the field. At 8 a.m., harvesting cabbage, the fields were so dry, so far above the waterline, that I naively assumed we were just being overly cautious.
Volunteers swarmed the field at Intervale Community Farm Monday morning. Photo by Lauren Ober/Seven Days.
As the morning went on and people continued to arrive to help, the flood waters grew higher and higher and our efforts became more and more desperate. We chopped off heads of cabbage half the size we would normally harvest and harvested chard into wooden totes normally reserved for roots – we were breaking all the farming rules.
Water in the dinosaur kale. Photo by Lauren Ober/Seven Days.
This was a race against time – once floodwater touches farm produce it is considered inedible due to contaminants and bacteria.
Farmer Becky Maden of Intervale Community Farm with the emergency harvest. Photo by Lauren Ober/Seven Days.
We moved on to the squash field (or I should say the northern edge of the squash field, the southern half being now below the water). When I worked at the farm a few years ago, the squash harvest would take days. Now we were attempting the harvest in a half hour.
Squash under water. Photo by Lauren Ober/Seven Days.
By the time we left the fields around noon, forced to evacuate by the rising water now covering the road, there was, quite literally, a river pouring over the cabbage field where we had begun the day. Crates of produce sat in the fields, unable to be moved out over the now flooded road. I waded back to the barn, at times up to my mid thighs in the silty, swiftly flowing water.
Photo by Lauren Ober/Seven Days.
This is one story, from one farm, from one place in Vermont. We’ve heard from far too many of our local farmers and producers that they have been devastated by this storm.
We’re all hungry to help in this time of devastation and help is needed across the state.
Here at City Market our efforts will concentrate on helping our flooded farmers in the Intervale. Our farmers down there - Arethusa, Adams' Berry Farm, Diggers' Mirth, Bella Farm, Intervale Community Farm, Pitchfork Farm, City Chicks (raising organic chickens and turkeys for the first time this year), and Stray Cat Flower Farm - all went under water on Monday, most for the second time this year after the flooding this spring.
Starting this Saturday, September 3, City Market will be donating 1% of our total sales till Friday, September 16. During this time, you can also just make a donation directly to the fund at any of our registers.
Many, many thanks.