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Vermont farmers weather crop losses, 'devastation,' from severe flooding

An aerial view of flooding in an agricultural area
The University of Vermont
Flooding at the Intervale in Burlington, which sits along the Winooski River, on Tuesday, July 11.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has released a resource page for farmers beginning to assess the damage from this week's floods.

It provides instructions for what farmers can do about crop losses, if they have to dump milk because trucks can't get to their road, and where they can go for emergency funds.

Find the resource page here.

While the state hasn't yet provided any preliminary damage estimates to Vermont's farms, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont said in a press release Wednesday that more than 40 farms have reported being impacted by this week's severe flooding.

NOFA-VT said those impacts range from isolated losses of fields and/or equipment to "complete devastation." The organization noted many farms are still in the early stages of assessing damage, after floodwaters began to recede last night.

One of the produce farms that experienced severe flooding was the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington.

Farm manager Andy Jones says while Vermont rivers crested on Monday and Tuesday further south, things were peaking in Burlington this morning.

And he says the result was somewhat worse than Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

"[T]here was probably a two to three acre patch in the middle of 350 acres in the Intervale that were above water during Irene," Jones said. "This time, it was maybe an acre or something."

While most of their buildings escaped a lot of damage, Jones says the farm lost all of its crops, minus what they could harvest with the help of volunteers on Monday.

"Everything left behind is 100% loss," he said. "We're at a time of year when the replanting window is really short, because there just aren't that many more growing-degree days left. And many crops, it's already, it's already too late in the season to replant."

Whether farmers can replant anything at this point, Jones said, is "TBD."

"If we're unable to replant anything, then the season is more or less over at this point, for everybody down here," he said. "You know, it's a good it's probably 35 or 40 people who make their livelihood down here in total."

Amid this hardship, Jones said what's heartening is community support.

"Gathering together and, you know, trying to figure out how to go forward and be cheerful and, you know, crack jokes and just survive... it's a powerful thing," he said. "And I think everybody here is really thankful our homes weren't flooded. Nobody was hurt. So there's a lot to be thankful for."

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Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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