Over the course of a week, our farm received 8.5″ of rain. Parts of our farm also received several feet of floodwater and debris. It has been intense.
We farm in a floodplain. The reality of farming in the desert southwest often includes putting your crops in a place that you know will someday be inundated with an incredible amount of water. We had already seen the lower field flood once this year, which cemented our plans to never plant the garden down there. It seemed like a great tier for a diversionary food plot for deer and javelina. That is definitely the plan now. According to the FEMA maps that we got when we bought this property, what we experienced was likely a 100-year event. Somehow, though, that doesn’t give me any confidence that it won’t happen again in the next few years.
I’m thankful that this happened to us this year when we didn’t have an awful lot of customers. Knowing everyone personally and having to tell them that we won’t have melons and ristras for them is hard, but they’ve all been so understanding and supportive. I hope that we always have that sort of relationship with our customers, but I know that as we grow, we will eventually have people who become disgruntled when crops fail or tomatoes never ripen. I’m so grateful for all the positive feedback we have had this year, even in the face of a devastating flood.
Our garden is very waterlogged. I sink into the mud when I walk between the rows of popcorn. We are very lucky that the chicken wire along our fence caught most of the debris and slowed the rushing water, but I don’t foresee most of our crops recovering. The melons and winter squash are mostly flattened along the plastic mulch. I know all the tomatoes will burst with all this water in the soil. The chiles may survive – we shall see. The okra looks incredibly happy. The summer squash looks mostly dead, but the zucchini somehow still looks better than any zucchini I have ever seen. That two inches of standing water does concern me though…
I’m calling our season off after this week. We will continue to deliver to people who have paid through the end of September if we possibly can. Whatever we don’t can or dry or freeze we will be selling at our local farmers’ market. I know we will still have some produce, just not enough to meet our delivery commitments. This week we will be delivering whatever we can salvage from the garden before it croaks completely, along with a healthy crop of pumpkins and pears.
I’ve embedded a gallery that shows some of the flooding we experienced. My brother (Joshua) took these photos and they can also be viewed here.