Farmers’ Almanac: Flood Edition

As I’m sure many of you are aware, we might be in for some moderate flooding this year. From what I’ve heard, it’ll be similar to 2009 water levels with the areas close to the Red River getting the brunt of the flooding. But what about that veggie CSA you already paid for? Are the farmers going to hold your radishes hostage until you volunteer to help sandbag the entire 5-acre plot?

The good news for us is that we moved from rented land on the Red River to the east side of Niverville last year, which gives us a good buffer. I’m still expecting our season will be relatively unaffected by the flood, and I’m only a little concerned about drainage. There’s sitting water and plenty of snow still in the garden and April is underway. This is a situation where I think a small farm has an edge over its conventional counterpart – using a walk-behind tractor and some people-powered seeders instead of a giant tractor and a 32-row corn planter means we won’t have to wait as long to get into our garden. Right now, it looks like we’ll be able to get our walk-behind tractor into the field in a week or two to improve drainage, and we should be right on schedule to get the first seedings of greens, beets, carrots and onion transplants in by early May. I’m especially excited to be transplanting beets for the first time to try for an earlier crop.

We’re no strangers to the scourge of excess water. The first year we struck out on our own the rain didn’t stop for weeks and half of our garden was underwater for all of June. The plants were severely stunted, the yields decreased and the pests and bugs flourished. It was one of the most nerve-wracking summers of my life. Every time I looked at the forecast and saw more rain I wanted to cry. We ran a CSA that year and I felt terribly conflicted. Part of a CSA’s function is to spread the risk around so the farmer doesn’t have to shoulder all the vagaries of nature by themselves, but internally it does not feel like that. When there are crop failures, we feel like we’re not keeping up our end of the bargain. I share this all to say, if you happen to be a member of a CSA that is affected by the flood this spring, make sure to show your farmers some extra understanding and kindness. They’ll be doing everything they can to provide you with the best food possible and probably suffering 1000 tiny panic attacks every day. But thankfully it looks increasing like the flooding won’t be cutting into our spring plans.