|The Bad Axe River along Harmony Valley Farm|
We realize there are differing opinions about climate change, what is causing it, what should be done about it, etc. As we reflect upon our recent wet September and then an unseasonably warm and beautiful October and November, we (as farmers) would be foolish to ignore the fact that the climate and weather patterns are changing. While we were experiencing excessive rainfall, California and the upper northeast portions of the US experienced a drought. Since 2007 we’ve experienced three substantial “Hundred Year Floods,” but we also had a drought year stuck in there as well. Weather patterns are becoming more extreme and erratic. Despite these changes, we all still need to eat. This means we need to figure out how to adapt to these changes so we can continue to do our job!
|Photo Borrowed from UCS website|
I think this is an important question for all farmers to ask themselves now. As we look at our own situation, we look for places of vulnerability in our operation. In doing so, we made a decision to stop farming one area of land we have leased for several years now. It is very prone to flooding and is not the most resilient soil. Several years ago we started leasing some new land that is “high and dry,” away from rivers and streams. We have transitioned the land to certified organic and are ready to put it into full production next year. In wet years, we value land like this. On the flip side, in a drought year we can have challenges with some of our higher ground that is further away from a water source. In some cases we don’t have a water source to irrigate from and in others we may not have permits to irrigate. We cannot live in fear of rivers and creeks and it isn’t realistic to move our farm out of the valley. There is no perfect situation, rather we value the diversity we have with different areas we farm and do our best to mitigate risk.
|New in November 2016: Dike In Field|
We’ve also removed trees, branches and debris from the river as well as dry washes. If we don’t get these things out of the way, they will build up and create dams which obstruct water from flowing where it’s supposed to go and potentially can spill over into field and roadways. Management…it’s constant management and observation. You don’t clean or fix something up one time and assume it’s good for ever. Water is powerful and changes things as it moves. You have to constantly reassess the situation each year and especially after a major event.
|Cover Crop: Built-in Soil Protection|
We realize we have a lot to learn and will continue to assess what we can do to adapt as well as what we can do to contribute in positive ways to decreasing factors contributing to climate change. This is a big topic to explore, but we all have to assume responsibility for doing our part to care for our corner of our world.