With cooler nights and fall colors on the way, summer is already beginning to draw to a close. You may not have focused on it directly, but there have been many more sunny days this summer than the average. While this has been great for summer travelers, it has devastated many of our local farmers.
Just days ago, the drought in the Greater Boston area was classified as ‘extreme'--a level up from its previous label of 'severe.' The severity of the drought is due to a number of factors including the mild and low-precipitation winter earlier this year, average summer temperatures 6-10 degrees higher than normal, and a cumulative precipitation 65% below normal over past three months. The drought in our area is very serious and, despite farmers' best efforts, is beginning to take a toll.
Boston Area Gleaners has been able to see the unique effects of the drought on each of our partner farms:
- Topsoil on farm fields is so completely devoid of moisture that there are inches of ‘dust’ on top
- Farmers have to prioritize certain crops, and let other crops go (dry out and die) because they don’t have enough water to irrigate everything
- Farms use all the water in their irrigation pond and back up irrigation ponds, running them dry
- Farms have to run piping for miles to get water from alternative sources such as neighbors' wells
- Farms put their CSA shares on hold because they don’t have enough produce for all shareholders
- Farms lack the labor to run their operation because they have to pull people off field work to run and repair irrigation equipment