As of Thursday morning, parts of Allegany County and further north are officially in a moderate drought. We’ve been hearing from some of our Western Pennsylvania Farms like Tiny Seed Farm, Mighty Small Farm, and Clarion River Organics the different impacts this has on their businesses and livelihood.
Farms are having to make difficult decisions in real time around water usage. Because wells and ponds in the area are drying up, the farms either have to add the expense of paying for municipal water (which is not always possible) or let some crops perish. Farmers at Clarion River Organics report how difficult it is to keep crops alive under the added stress. For the crops that are surviving, drought comes with an increase in pest pressure. During times of duress, irrigated produce is one of the only options for pests like slugs. This means that we may see more signs of stress on crops like dark leafy greens in Harvie boxes!
One of the resounding impacts of this drought is that direct seeding is not even an option right now. Due to the dryness of the soil, the farms can’t plant crops that would typically go into the ground at this time of year. This means there will likely be gaps and delays in some local produce in weeks and months ahead.
This recent drought underscores the importance of building a resilient and diverse local and regional food economy. At Harvie, we believe that supporting locally during times like these is more important now than ever. Buying some kale with a bit of slug damage or purchasing the crops that are surviving helps our farmers continue to operate and build sustainable year-long businesses.