Remember that Hurricane Irene thing? The powerful storm was bearing down on New York City. Entire neighborhoods were evacuated. The national media was whipping the country into a tizzy with minute-by-minute reporting on the biblical devastation that was looking more and more likely to ensue. Huge crowds jammed the supermarkets, stocking up on chips, salsa and booze. Nary a battery or a flashlight could be found. Candles? Only at the botanicas.
The city hunkered down, prepared to party through flooding and power outages. And then…nothing happened. In the city. While New Yorkers jeered City Hall and the media for stirring up the hype, few realized that farms and communities north and west of the city were being devastated by floods.
According to GrowNYC, the organization that manages the city’s Greenmarket program, over 10% of the farmers who provide fresh local produce at our Greenmarkets have lost all of their crops. But somehow this remains a high-impact story that largely hasn’t been told.
That’s starting to change. Filmmakers like Liza de Guia of Food Curated and Danial Klein of The Perennial Plate have begun posting interviews with affected farmers and video of the destruction. Liza recently visited David and Denise Lloyd of Maple Downs Farm, a small dairy farm in Middleburgh, NY. Daniel spent a day with farmers Ray Bradley and Pete Taliaferro. The stories are gripping.
The New York Times also recently profiled Ray Bradley and Kira Kinney, in a look at the innovative ways in which struggling farmers are improvising to stay on their feet.
This is a real disaster, people. GrowNYC is seeking donations of non-perishable foods and things like shampoo, toothpaste and diapers for upstate farmers and their families. (Yes, diapers.) Supplies will be collected at Greenmarkets starting this weekend. See here for details on locations and dates for drop-offs, and the specific types of items being sought.
You can also donate money that will go directly to Greenmarket farmers through GrowNYC here.
The people who grow our food need our help. Do what you can, even if that’s just spreading the word.