Greetings from the Northeast!

I’m afraid the Greek Goddess of Peace will be a marked feature of 2011 (aka Irene, but unfortunately not the case when it comes to the hurricane form). As I write this I scan emails from farmer friends – photo after photo of them canoeing through their fields. Tiny plants stick out of the surface of the water in perfect lines, their feeble smiles “for the camera” show their shock and bewilderment. Many, many growers in our region and ASCFG community were affected, and I wish the best to you for your recovery.

We let the storms’ hype get our blood pressure skyrocketing and put our preparations at the forefront of our task lists. We took down an acre of high tunnel plastic, cultivated and hilled like crazy, bound the budded sunflowers together in bed-wide bundles, tied extra ropes across the greenhouse, put extra bags on the row cover, created water bars on the farm roads, harvested the asters and lisianthus hard, and strapped the dickens out of the chickens (coops, at least). My farm was spared catastrophe and major loss, but that is a guilt-laden reprieve. The storm took a more westerly track and left no stone unturned, swelling rivers to record-breaking heights in our history, and leaving many farms underwater, and later, after the rivers receded, fields of gravel and debris. A friend reported the stream by her house so large that she heard boulders moving within it.

So 2011 turns out to be (for many Northeast farmers) a two-part season: Before Irene and After Irene. I hope that optimism for picking up the pieces, salvaging and plugging along prevails. Best of luck.

This November’s National Conference will be a great place to share stories, visit farms that will likely still have blooms, and learn from growers all over the country. After the weather we’ve experienced this year, I am especially interested in learning from growers who are used to tornadoes, hurricanes and droughts. They are cranking out crops in soaring temperatures, preventing crops from falling prey to winds, and riding it out like it happens all the time. Teach us! We’re all ears!

We might not be able to predict the weather with absolute certainty, but we can predict that we will try to predict it. One nifty little trick that is amazingly accurate is to listen for the temperature. Cricket chirps correlate to degrees: Count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 to get degrees Fahrenheit. If you are a Celsius type, crickets can do that too! Count the chirps in 25 seconds, divide by 3, and add 4 to get the temperature. Is it the right temperature to direct sow something that needs 65 degrees to germinate? Ask the cricket!

Please do not hesitate to contact me with topics that you would like covered in our next Regional Meeting. Email me at [email protected]  Happy autumnal growing! Hope to see you in Reston!

Missy Bahret

Old Friends Farm

Missy Bahret Old Friends Farm Amherst, Massachusetts
[email protected]