Help Central Texas farmers

bernhardts crop underwater

Our Central Texas farmers need our help now more than ever during this month of devastating weather. While farming in the fertile river bottoms normally brings beautiful vegetables and provides lush grasses for the animals, incessant rain brings flooding that washes away crops, infrastructure and topsoil. Little sunlight delays development of crops. (photo above courtesy of Bernhardts Farm, Alex surveying the total loss of their spring crops, now under water)

Thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and even tornadoes have rolled over our Central Texas farmland over the last couple months resulting in reduced yields for some and damaged farm buildings and livestock losses for others. Central Texas farms’ production is projected to be 30-60 percent lower than expected for June and July.

flood water organicarephoto courtesy of OrganiCare Farms, the sheep were still inside this shelter with water rising fast

Texas Farmers’ Market offers small micro grants to its Association members to assist with losses from extreme weather. Hard-hit crops include peaches, blackberries, strawberries, potatoes, carrots, radishes and even usually lush tomatoes hang split and stunted on vines. Farm animals have drowned or have little grass left to eat. If the crops are not totally lost, pockmarked leaves pummeled by hail and crops blighted by fungus and mold leaves a product less visually appealing to consumers.

Here’s an on-going list of some of the massive damage we’ve seen from TFM farmers and producers:

  • Alex and Donna of Bernhardts Farm in Elgin are unsure of the harvest (and revenue) from their 2,200 tomato plants planted before the rain and floods. Peaches are rotting on the trees from fungus, their high tunnel is flooded and the high fencing is down.
  • Gerald and Fran Cole with OrganiCare Farms outside of Taylor had to move their eight sheep to higher ground by wading into waist-deep water filled with fire ants because the flood waters came up higher and more quickly than ever in the history of their farm. They lost 11 piglets to the mud because the newborns either get bogged and the big pigs step on them or they die from hypothermia because they don’t go into the special shelters.
  • Smith & Smith Farms outside of Rockdale lost 10 baby pigs and a number meat chickens. Of their 40 acres, 20 are still under water. The winds destroyed infrastructure and the animals that are there are being kept in rolling trailers and on higher ground around their house.

Farming is a gamble; every grower acknowledges that. And where one crop fails, another often succeeds beyond expectations. Those are the risks you take, but this kind of widespread devastation requires help from the community. Please donate to the Texas Farmers’ Market Farmer Emergency Fund now to help farmers get back on dry land and keep growing the food our community relies on.

organicare flood rebuildphoto courtesy of OrganiCare Farms, rebuilding fencing for the sheep that swam through waist-deep water to save their lives

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