When Tropical Storm Irene swept into Vermont in late August, Kara Fitzgerald and Ryan Wood Beauchamp prepared for the effects of high winds on their five-acre field of vegetables. They picked tomatoes and otherwise battened down their small produce farm tucked into a bend of the Mill River on Route 103 in Cuttingsville, VT. But they weren’t prepared for what the normally placid river had in store for them. Rampaging from Irene’s downpours and running higher than it does in spring runoff, it changed its course and ripped across their crops, destroying everything and leaving them with a rocky field and nothing to harvest.
Above, Kara and Ryan stand in the only piece of green left of their summer’s work. Below, they walk across the stony rubble that was their vegetable farm, past what remains of a new irrigation system.
Now they are looking for new land to farm. But they are heartened by aid that has come from sources such as the Vermont Community Foundation’s Farm Disaster Relief Fund, Northeast Organic Farmers of Vermont and Pete’s Greens’ Vermont Farm Fund. They have also received an outpouring of support from their Vermont neighbors in the form of contributions and encouragement. One of their customers cried when they returned to the Rutland Farmers’ Market with the remnants of their crop. A fellow farmer gave them use of an acre and a half to grow fall greens. By mid-October they were ready to offer their community-supported-agriculture customers a produce pick-up. It wasn’t big, but it was something.