Upstate Farms in Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys Devastated by Irene [Updated]

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View from Vroman's Nose of the Schoharie Creek south of Middleburgh, New York, including fruit, vegetable, and dairy farms underwater. The line of small trees near the opposite shore marks the creek's usual path. (Photo courtesy Amy Colyer Fogerty; click to enlarge.)


After seeing aerial pictures of massive destruction in the northwest Catskills, including many farms totally underwater along Schoharie Creek -- where Fork in the Road picks berries every summer to make jam -- I decided to check in on the prospective state of the city's Greenmarkets, post-Irene, to answer the question, Did massive crop destruction occur in the storm's wake?

The answer, as demonstrated by a Catskill farmer's comment to an earlier version of this post, is an emphatic "yes."

According to Ken Jaffe of Slope Farms in Meredith, New York: "There is widespread damage to the best cropland along river valleys in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, the Schoharie being the largest, most productive, and most impacted. Transportation is a under lockdown in most Catskill counties, and will be slowed indefinitely by numerous bridges that have been washed out, and road(s) that are literally gone. There are major losses to farmers who are literally underwater, and often under evacuation."

Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) of the website Eatocracy has compiled Web and Twitter accounts , published on the CNN website, on the plight of upstate communities that have suffered extensive flooding. It's easy to see that many farms have been irreversibly damaged, with crops destroyed and topsoil washed away.

While much of the damage that has occurred is not yet obvious in the Greenmarkets, we are likely to be missing a key portion of these markets for months, if not years. In this context, the early assessments of the impact on Greenmarkets seems overly optimistic.

Text of the earlier post:

I got in touch with Liz Carollo, a Greenmarket publicist, and she told me, "We're currently doing a damage assessment. Yes, there were farmers missing from the market this morning, but we don't know the cause. Highways are flooded between here and there, and some farmers may have stayed home to fix damage -- say, to stake up tomatoes again, even though the crops may still be OK." As part of the damage assessment, the Greenmarket administration has sent out emails and is making phone calls, though, as Carollo noted, "we know that many farmers don't have electricity back on yet."

The effects of the storm were much worse upstate and in parts of New England than they were here. In Vermont, the storm has been called the worst since 1927, and there have been Twitter reports of cars floating down the main street of Bennington, Vermont.

At today's Union Square market, I talked to David Hughes, the affable guy who sits in the little green manager's tent. He reported that the usual number of vendors was 33, but today there were 27 -- but several of those were Saturday market participants who called and asked if they could come today, since they'd missed their regular market. A quick tally indicated that 11 farmers had not shown up today. "But it could be because the roads were flooded, or because they had no power or phone and couldn't call in. Still, things don't look too bad."


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There were notable gaps in the Union Square Greenmarket today.

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12 comments
Texas Land Sales
Texas Land Sales

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Texas Land Sales
Texas Land Sales

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Laura
Laura

The author has a NYC sense of geography outside of NYC, in other words:"wrong." Schoharie County is not the northwest Catskills. It is north of Albany.

Kevin
Kevin

Having once worked in Green Market and knowing how difficult it can be to get into the the Union Square Market I'm sure there are farmers biting at the bit to fill the empty spots.

LuvSchoharie
LuvSchoharie

I live about two miles away from that picture and have my dinner most Friday nights in the summer where that picture was taken.  My favorite farm to buy vegetables, Barber's, and Bohringer's where I go strawberry picking, are both underwater in that photo.  I cannot give words to the devastation here.  Many farmers lost all of their livestock and crops and the towns of Middleburgh and Schoharie were badly flooded.  I just hope the farmers and everyone else can eventually get through this.  News teams have been unable to get into the county until today to cover the damage.  Go to http://www.facebook.com/#!/pag... for more information.  It is really bad. 

Rachel Golden
Rachel Golden

As someone who grew up in Schoharie I cannot thank you enough for this.  We have been ignored is stories as it is impassable and cannot get away from the NY meme of 'this was it'.  It is frustrating to see the devastation of the valley so ignored.

This is how the folk Upstate are connecting with each other:https://www.facebook.com/pages...

Slopefarms
Slopefarms

will greenmarkets be affected? Yes. there is widespread damage to the best cropland along river valleys in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, the Schoharie being the largest, most productive, and most impacted. transportation is a under lockdown in most catskill counties, and will be slowed indefinitely by numerous bridges that have been washed out, and road that are literally gone. there are major losses to  farmers who are literally underwater, and often under evacuation.

Ken JaffeSlope FarmsMeredith, NY

Garsleat
Garsleat

I got those heirloom tomatoes this morning. $2.75/lb! A steal! Luckily, I got some bread from Bread Alone, too. I finished my last bite yesterday and prayed that the market would open up. And it did. :)

msbx
msbx

get out a map, Schoharie is west southwest of Albany. and the northeastern county of the leatherstocking region of NYS as well as the northeastern most county of the cultural region known as Appalachia, a region best known for its poverty issues... and it is pronounced as SKO+HARRY  = derived from the indian name for 'driftwood'. more accurately flood wood, which accumulated in a unique location forming a land bridge.

Sorcha Caroll
Sorcha Caroll

Schoharie Co is southwest of Albany--in the northwest Catskills.

Rsietsema
Rsietsema

Thanks for that report, Mr. Jaffe. The problem with the assessments so far is that virtually none of the Catskills farmers are available to be interviewed, but every one of the anecdotal reports I've heard has been very bad. This story is going to get much bigger. The Schoharie Valley photo linked at the start of the piece speaks for itself.

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