Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fitzgerald: Farm Recovery

Two years ago on August 29th, my partner and I reluctantly drove home from our neighbor's, where we had spent the night after Irene's waters caused us to evacuate our farm.

Driving home through the valley was surreal: a portion of the highway devoured; swaths of mangled trees, plucked like toothpicks, piled along the edges of the river; blankets of stones decorated lawns, and a new waterfall cascaded through my neighbor's yard. Beyond the tree line bordering the fields where we had grown acres of vegetables, a new river rushed over an unrecognizable moonscape of rocks and debris, leaving no room for my desperate hope that our land could ever be farmed again. We pulled into the driveway and I wobbled out of our truck, collapsing to the ground, my legs unable to carry me further into what used to be our farm.

I don't have a clear recollection of the hours and weeks after that moment: a blur of visitors, reporters, phone calls and emails, and a maze of disaster relief agencies to navigate, usually leading our hopes up and over a cliff. I do remember some of the many bright spots: angels who kept us afloat while we waded through the uncertainty of our lives after losing our farmland.

Neighbors we had never met introduced themselves, and with tears in their eyes offered us the little spare cash they could round up. A friend bought us groceries from the Rutland co-op, coming home with the last bunch of kale that we wholesaled on August 24th. A neighbor initiated a meal schedule for us, with dozens of people signing up to participate. Vermont farmers collaborated to disperse farm-fresh food to those of us who had lost a whole winter's worth of produce. A marine veteran spent hours cutting up downed trees. We shared a warm cup of cider one day, and he told me what it meant to him to be of service to his country. A friend with a nursery down the road kept us in business by offering us a space to start our seeds in one of her top-notch greenhouses.

Now, two years later, we’re rebuilding our farm and our lives in a new location nearby – just not in the valley.

We've buried water and electric lines, erected greenhouses, installed an irrigation system, wrapped the fields in deer fence, and built a barn for our walk-in cooler and supplies.

And two years is just a beginning.

Many things are still hard: like the daily exhaustion and depletion that comes with rebuilding our farm and repairing our old farmland, the panic that sneaks in on a rainy day, the debilitating fear I experience over the idea that it’s all too possible to lose what we love, the toll it's taken on my spirit to trade sleep and sanity for the work of recovering from such an unimaginable disaster.

Irene recovery is still my way of life, but hopefully, in the years to come, it will simply be a piece of my past.

Kara Fitzgerald runs Evening Song Farm, a small biodynamic vegetable farm with her partner in Cuttingsville.
Latest Stories