Many of you may have seen the various articles recently chronicling the ways the drought in Washington State has been impacting local farms and farmers. In the 8.5 seasons we have been farming, this one has been the hardest by far. I imagine that had we gone through a year like this before, and had systems in place for this sort of weather, we would be prepared. But as it is, we haven’t, so we aren’t.
Let me explain. Every other year we’ve been farming, we have relied on our valley’s naturally high water table to provide the bulk of the water all our 16 acres of vegetables need to grow. We typically have been able to water in our plants once, when we seed or transplant, and never water them again; their roots quickly reaching the abundant water that’s usually no more than 18″ below the surface of our soil. This year, some combination of low snow pack, leading to the Snoqualmie River running low, and historically dry and hot weather in May and June have dropped that water table far below the root-zone of any of our plants. The consequence is that we have been scrambling to figure out how to keep 16 acres irrigated, when rather than needing to be watered once, or at most twice, in their brief life, all our plants need to be watered extensively on a weekly basis! Having this dry weather happen so early in the season, when we are doing the bulk of our seeding and transplanting has made irrigation even more complicated and consequential.
For over two months now, we have been devoting one or more people every day to the irrigation puzzle. It’s stretched our resources very thin. We have managed to keep most of our plantings alive, but because they aren’t getting the volume of water they need to thrive, our yields on many crops are down quite a bit. It is for these reasons, lack of people power and lack of product, that we have made the very difficult decision to take a hiatus from our two Thursday farmers markets, Queen Anne and Duvall.
Our hope is that we will have the resources and the vegetables to return to both markets by August 13th. Until then, wish us luck in our struggle against nature.