Mother Nature can inflict her wrath on even the best farmers (These are the Haygrove tomato umbrellas at Peregrine Farm in Alamance County)
I used to teach disaster preparedness courses for the American Red Cross. I rarely followed my own advice. If I had been prone to follow my own advice, I probably wouldn’t have chosen farming for a career. We truly are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Remember back in 2009 (or have you blocked that memory too), all the crazy rain and flooding? It was that year in combination with the slightly less watery, but still good ole’ southeastern damp 2010 year, and the virtual loss of a tomato crop two years in a row that prompted the purchase of our “tomato umbrella.” That was no small decision (thank goodness for bank loans!). But since we erected that structure, I have to admit I’ve felt a little bullet-proof. Like Icharus, I challenged the gods and thought myself to have won at least a small battle (you see, we can grow beautiful tasty actually fungicide-free organic tomatoes in the southeast!). Lest I get too arrogant though: it was with a heavy dose of my own human powerlessness that we returned a borrowed tool to our mentor farmers (Alex and Betsy Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Alamance County) this weekend. A tool they will need to replace their own tomato umbrella that Mother Nature took out in a brief flash of unpredicted fury. We return to our farm, perhaps a little less realistic about our relationship with Mother Nature, and with the words of our friend Ken running through our heads, “Isn’t that what farming is: waiting around for the next disaster?” Indeed.