Farmers Recover After Cold Winter Weather

Mar 20, 2014

Lane County Farmer's Market
Credit Amanda Butt

Vendors at the Lane County Farmer’s Market say their crops are recovering after the snow and below zero temperatures that hit their fields this winter.

Booths are filled with kale, carrots, and potatoes at the Lane County Farmer’s Market. It’s hard to see that farmers suffered any losses after the winter’s harsh and unusual weather. But the farmers behind the tables and baskets of produce say the cold conditions came with a price.

Richardson: “We had some issues. The cold was harsh on us.”

Says Jack Richardson, the manager of Organic Redneck farm.

Richardson: “We had a lot of leaks and sprouted broccolis and early cauliflowers and cabbages, and now we have very very few. They were reduced significantly and we even covered them with row covers and did a lot to try to preserve them through the cold, but to minimal avail.”

Richardson wasn’t the only farmer at the market who lost crops to the cold. Rachel Weiner says the cold weather put her farm production behind as well.

Weiner: “I lost about a quarter acre of planting, brassicas that were overwintering – kale, broccoli, and cabbages and some lettuces as well. So, that’s put our harvest and marketing behind a couple months but we’re catching up and just looking forward.”

Weiner says she’s better off than some farmers who lost their greenhouses to the heavy snow followed by freezing rain.

Garrison: “We had a handful of greenhouses collapse under the weight of the snow with ice on top of that…. I’d say five or six cold frames.”

Says Matthew Garrison, a farmer at Groundwork Organics. He says most of his crops were resilient under the fallen tarps. Now the problem is buying new plastic and paying farmers to spend their time repairing the greenhouses rather than tending the fields in the early spring.

Despite all the problems caused by the cold weather, Tyson Davies, a farmer from Wintergreen Farm, says that the cold did offer one benefit.

Davies: “Well, it makes the Kale sweeter, which is one thing.”

Judging by the baskets and bundles of Kale at the market, this sweet and resilient crop is doing alright. The farmers say they hope for good weather in the early spring to make up for their winter losses.