Weathering the Storm: Bring on the Community Support
Starting a business is guaranteed to demand your blood, sweat, and tears. But when it comes to farming, the risk is even more difficult to weigh with all the natural forces to contend with. Between the threats of drought and the imminence of torrential monsoon rains, staggered plantings and reinforced structures aren’t always enough.
This summer, farmers all across the state have been coping with wind-torn greenhouses, flooded fields, and leaves shredded by hail. But in Yavapai County, several of our favorite local farms were hit with an especially devastating storm this when a severe thunderstorm tore through Paulden in July. The storm began with marble-sized hail then dumped 1.25 inches of rain in less than an hour, resulting in flash floods.
Though the damage is done, there are two easy ways that we can support these families who work so hard to grow the food we love to eat:
Donate to their crowdfunding campaigns.
Continue shopping at the farmer’s market booths, even if the selection isn’t as diverse or abundant as you’ve come to expect.
Read more about the families struck hardest in Northern Arizona this summer and show your support however is best for you.
Christina and Byrnie Florea operate Ridgeview Farms, a family-run poultry business in Paulden, Arizona. They raise chickens, turkeys, and quail for meat and eggs. They sell at the Prescott Farmers Market and to a few restaurants around the state.
The flooding at Ridgeview Farms in Paulden killed 630 chickens and eight turkeys. In addition to the heartbreak of those lives lost, the Floreas estimate that their deaths will mean somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000 in losses. They won’t have meat to sell for the next 7 weeks.
The storm also shorted a circuit, which defrosted a freezer full of chicken. The storm damaged the chicken barns and ruined tons of chicken feed in the feed grinder. They were able to rescue about 45 chickens and donated some of the dead chickens to the Heritage Park Zoo so they wouldn't go to waste.
Their land is lower in elevation than their neighbors, so the rain accumulation from neighbors higher up has continued to flood the land with each big storm over the past weeks. The remaining chickens are at risk with each rain, and monsoon season persists. The biggest need right now is borrowing or renting a backhoe, which would allow them to redirect the many ruts that the flood created away from the chicken barns.
Hernandez Farm is a small family farm in Paulden, Arizona. They grow vegetables and make tamales, tortillas and salsa and sell at the Flagstaff, Chino Valley, Prescott and Prescott Valley Farmers Markets throughout the year.
In the wake of the storm, the fields were flooded and the leaves of plants were pulverized.
The next few months are going to be difficult for the Hernandez Family. Ruben, who has poured his life into this farm, is considering replanting and will need support. In addition to donations to help them through this financial hardship, they appreciate your patience and understanding. As we enter the height of the summer season we might not have a lot of vegetables for sale at the market. Please continue to shop at our booth.
The Rade Family are the happy-go-lucky farmers from Whipstone Farm in Paulden, Arizona who have been at the Prescott Farmers Market and Flagstaff Community Market (forever!) selling vegetables and flowers each week and through their CSA. They love their work and we take a ton of pride in feeding and sustaining our community.
In July, they experienced an intense summer storm with extensive hail and flooding rain. The rain fell over a large enough area surrounding our farm that the water moved through the center of one of the fields like a river causing severe flash flood damage.
They did an assessment of their crops and we estimate about $75,000+ of crops were damaged or destroyed. While many of these they will not be able to recover or replant this year, other crops can either be replanted or can be cleaned of debris and damaged leaves with a hope of some recovery in production.
(update: Whipstone Farm has closed their campaign after overwhelming community support and you can follow their updates)