Dear Friends of the Berea College Farm,
Even if you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks (and months!), chances are likely you’ve noticed our unpredictable Kentucky weather has become even more capricious than usual. Much to the chagrin of the drought-bearers out west, our portion of the continent has been experiencing an over-abundance of wet weather and the violent voracity of some of the storms have wreaked havoc in a variety of ways, especially for farmers.
Plants are fickle things with the tendencies of a Goldilocks complex. They don’t want it to be too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, and pests of all varieties are anxiously awaiting a window of opportunity to move in and decimate productivity at the drop of a hat. For most of us, rainy weather might only mean the cancellation of an outdoor event or create the headache of inconvenience to our planned activities, but inclement weather can make or break small farm. For some, flooded fields have been replanted only to be flooded again, resulting in a complete loss of certain crops. For others, the excessive wetness has impaired their ability to harvest or exacerbated the spread of rot and disease.
Of course, all of these problems eventually trickle down to you, the consumer. Produce availability is likely to diminish and prices increase as farmers attempt to cover their losses, but just remember, those extra few cents you’re paying may very well be the tipping point for some farmers. Even if your food budget is tight, allocating even $10-$20 per week can make a big difference. Big box retailers won’t miss your contribution, but small, local farms and businesses benefit greatly when you choose to invest in their livelihood.
Want to get the most bang for your food buck? Here are a couple tips that save you money and still help your favorite local farmers. Buy in bulk. If you ask ahead of time, some folks, including the Berea College Farm Store, will gladly sell you a case of produce for much less than buying a few at a time. Preserve the excess. Take those cases of tomatoes and peppers you just bought and can your own salsa. The Madison County Extension Office regularly offers classes to teach you how. Grow your own. Some edibles are easy to grow and don’t take up a lot of space. Take the money you saved growing your own kale and spend it on sweet corn at the market. To help you in this endeavor, the Farm Store is putting all of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange seeds on sale through the end of the month so be sure to stop by!
Until next time, eat well!
Jessa Turner – Manager