News from the Farm | January 16, 2023

We appreciate everyone checking in to see how we’re doing. We’ve gotten a lot of water, 16 inches since January 1, and some strong winds, but we’re doing fine. Our crew was able to get to and from work without incident and we finished up early each day to get everyone home where they could take off their rain gear and boots and dry out and warm up. Shorter days does mean less pay, but that’s better than no work, as was the case at some other farms. The delivery drivers were able to safely navigate the roads and drop off produce and CSA orders, and our three farmers market teams had safe, successful, though not dry, days. There are some very soggy areas of the farm, and little rivers and waterfalls all around the Capay Valley that normally aren’t there, but no damage here. There were many flooded roads in Yolo County and some temporary closures on Highway 16, and plenty of people taking advantage of the sandbag supplies at the local fire stations.

We’re monitoring the creek levels (flooding happens if the levels reach 12 feet) and long term will be keeping an eye on our wells and the Clearlake and Indian Valley Reservoirs. It seems that reservoir levels are going up, as are water levels in our wells, and we’re hopeful that water availability and water quality (concentrations of salts and minerals) will be better this summer. At the least, the creek looks much better now than it did during the summer (see the comparison photo from September).

Getting a lot of rain isn’t unprecedented – it’s happened before. See the “vintage” carrot harvest photo from 2019 below. The goal is to get as much water in the ground as possible instead of moving it along. We’ve planned for that and it seems that the planning has paid off. There’s relatively little standing water, which we want to avoid because it creates anaerobic soil conditions. It’s a testament to a significant and long-term investment in good soil health, which includes cover cropping. The fields are soaking up the water and the cover crops look great.

That’s not to say that any farm experiencing flooding and hardship right now hasn’t been investing in soil health or is at fault. There’s nothing you can do when a river floods or a levee fails. Many farms and farmers have experienced major damage, especially in the Central Coast area, and they could use help.

Community Alliance with Family Farmers recently wrote: “Due to the recent winter storms, small-scale family farmers have been forced to evacuate, leaving behind flooded fields, houses, and barns. Many have incurred thousands of dollars in damages to their homes and businesses, losing infrastructure, machinery, livestock, and crops. The future is uncertain; there will be dire and likely prolonged negative effects. As farmers respond to this crisis, we need to step up. Together we can help alleviate the impacts of recent storm damages to small farms in California by streamlining relief and support.” They have an Emergency Fund that they will be using to help farmers.

And there are many farms with direct GoFundMe pages to provide aid:

We’ve got some drier weather in the forecast. There’s a lot of weeding to do, so we’ll see how long it takes for things to dry out enough to do that.

– Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager