Even though the storm system that just swept across south Florida does not have a name, it devastated farms in the area as much a hurricane would have during Summer. Even worse, because we're not in the middle of Summer, our fields were fully planted with high value crops which were ruined. We don't just farm in the winter because its slightly less hot, we farm in the winter because its our dry season. Mediterranean crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and all tender greens are susceptible to rotting and fungal infections in increased moisture environments, and this "dry season" sure is turning out to be a serious "increased moisture environment"! According to the Miami Herald, even though we are only 8 days into December its already the third rainiest recorded since records started being kept! The average rainfall for the entire month of December is 2.05 inches, and we got more than 6 inches in one night on Thursday December 3rd.
We spent the whole day last Thursday harvesting for some chefs around town, and clearing, prepping and planting new beds. We knew rain was forecast but we had no idea that we were about to get record rainfall that would completely negate all the work we did that day, and for the past few weeks! Friday morning we arrived to harvest for the market and CSA, which picks up on Saturday, and we couldn't even drive down the residential street that the farm is on! Sloshing through the 6 inches of puddled water at our gate Muriel hesitantly entered the farm and saw that most of our crops were under water. In areas where crops were recently seeded the moving water stole all of the organic matter that we've spent years trying to build into our naturally sandy soil. While we lament the loss of many crops, its the extreme erosion that we think will make the most lasting effect on the long term quality of our soil and our expected yields.
To add insult to injury, on Saturday night the rain storms headed for Homestead, and dumped record breaking quantities of rain on some of our friend farms, like French Farms and Verde Farm, who both grow produce for our CSA. French Farms has incredibly fertile soil that holds lots of moisture, which is usually a good thing, but then upon arrival the fields were puddles due to the water retention abilities of the fertile fields.
So, enough lamenting over what we have lost, we are now eagerly looking forward to what we can gain. We are anxious to get started clearing and reseeding for new crops, however there is still rain every day, so our fields are draining slowly. Many of our long term crops may survive if the fields drain fast enough which we are hoping will happen! Lost crops will be tilled into the soil as a way to try and begin rebuilding the organic matter content in the beds. We will reseed quick crops first so that we can get our produce back to the market and into our CSA quickly... radishes, baby arugula, bush beans, asian greens, and turnips will all get planted asap! Kale, kohlrabi, and some specialty edible flowers and herbs will have to spend some time in the nursery first.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from our CSA members, friends and farmers market customers. We have never experienced a hit like this at our small farm and its an emotional experience to see so much work, food and income all go down the drain, but we are excited to get back to work and grow as much food for everyone as we can. Check out this short article that was written about the agricultural destruction caused last week in the New Times. Miami Dade County and Homestead have already been declared "disaster zones" for 2015 by the USDA. Lets hope the rains stop soon and we can all get back to working hard and enjoying our Miami winter.