Statewide Efforts Assist Vermont Farm Completely Destroyed By Tropical Storm Irene
Hundreds of people from the Rutland County area and around the East Coast showed up to help a young Vermont couple raise monies to restart the farm that was completely devastated by Tropical Storm Irene. Evening Song Farm, owned and operated by Kara Fitzgerald, a native of New Jersey and Ryan Wood-Beauchamp, from New York State is an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm located on Route 103 in a small town called Cuttingsville, Vermont, located about ten miles from Okemo Mountain.
The couple, who had previously ran a successful CSA in Pennsylvania, purchased the land in Vermont a little over a year ago. While still finishing up the growing season and selling at farmer's markets in Pennsylvania, the couple would take turns traveling back and forth to Vermont to ready the fields for planting until they were able to move here full time this past winter.
The twosome brought an enthusiasm that was difficult not to share to their farm. They developed a free choice CSA program where customers, in return for a pre-paid "share", were able to come and select their choice of fresh grown produce each week during the growing season which started in the beginning of June.
Wood-Beauchamp commented during an interview that one of the most enjoyable aspects of CSA is seeing how people and families in particular connect with their food. In Pennsylvania, one of their favorite things was when families came to the farm together. It was always interesting, Wood-Beauchamp said to see “kids’ perspectives on food change by coming to the farm. Picky eaters were much braver, getting to try food, right from the earth” and seeing it all in a new and different light.
Fitzgerald added that it’s a challenge for local organic food producers to get over the misconception that the public has that they cannot afford organic produce or to belong to a CSA. With gas approaching $4 a gallon, the cost of supermarket food is rising and making local organic produce not only the healthier, but also the more affordable choice. Their first year CSA participation here in Vermont exceeded their expectations and the farm's future seemed sunny and bright.
On August 28th, everything changed. Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on Evening Song Farm. The Mill River which ran adjacent to the couple's property but a good distance from their fields, jumped its berm overflowing its banks and cascading at full storm force through Evening Song’s farmland. When the storm passed, where once stood a summer’s bounty of vegetables representing lots of hard work; now a river ran. Acres of farmland had been turned into acres of river rocks, boulders, silt, mud and uprooted trees – effectively rendering Fitzgerald and Wood Beauchamp’s property useless for farming during their lifetime.Continued on the next page