(some text/illustration by nicholas)

Is this global warming? We got 10-15 inches of rain in about a week, which seriously messed up our soils structure and water content, while also carrying part of our soil away (see more pictures below).
I’ve heard some predictions of how global warming might affect Iowa that tell us we will have more rain, and more extreme weather. I’d like to hope that Iowa’s weather patterns would stay the same while we just shifted one growing zone higher, and I could plant pecans and peaches. However, it seems unreasonable to think that humans can do so much damage to our atmosphere and have simple predictable results. Glaciers are melting, permafrost is melting, entire weather patterns are expected to change, creating deserts, swallowing islands. Here in Iowa, I have seen more 100 year floods than a 34 yr old should.
Lately, the weather (has been a pain in the neck, making it difficult to build a house or grow food. But I have been hearing stories of terrible flooding in Pakistan, or mud-slides in China that destroy entire villages. The wheat prices are going up because of major drought in Russia. The poor all over the world are struggling with unpredicted weather changes; here on the farm things aren’t that bad. But I think the situation in Iowa and in the world is serious.
Today I talked with Carolyn, one of our members, while delivering the CSA vegetables about our struggles. She’s pretty serious. Her family’s farm up in the Dakotas is having a terrible time with changing weather patterns. She said that Chet Culver (our governor) says this is the new normal. She said that Iowans seriously need to rethink the way we grow food because you can’t grow food under water. She’s wondering if we won’t need greenhouses in Iowa, just to keep the rain off the food. We’ve been learning a lot on our farm, but we’re going to have to learn a lot more if we want to survive in this changing climate. All the farmers in Iowa are going to have to learn to change, otherwise we’re going to lose our topsoil, pollute our land, air, and water, and we will continue to have these major floods that destroy lives and property.

So we've received a remarkable amount of rain, following a season of extremely high rainfall. It has made our potatoes impossible to dig out, and so they have stayed in the very wet soil, causing an unknown number of them to rot. The rain also washed the soil off the surface, exposing the upper potatoes to the sun and causing them to turn green.

The tomatoes and peppers are also in a very wet section, and some of the peppers and a lot of the tomatoes have dead or dying roots because there's no oxygen getting to them, causing the wilting you see above. The tomatoes are also very infected above the ground with water-borne diseases. Climbing up the dead tomato plant you can see sweet potato leaves. These look okay on top, but could be bad underground. Our greens are also in danger of rotting, and some have already died. Some beans have fungi on them, and most have been blown down in the storm. Most everything else looks kindof bad too. This is a disaster that has happened to all farmers in the area and has significantly impacted our entire community.

At this point, though, there is a lot we don't know. The beans, peppers, tomatoes, and greens might recover, but a good number of them might die if the soil doesn't dry out in time, and the green and rotting potatoes will not get better. We aren't sure what to do. The goal of our farm is to give a third to members, a third to workers, a third to poor. Barring a miracle, we will not be able to give the quantity and quality of vegetables that we would like to all of these groups. The idea of a CSA, the model we operate under, is to share the risk with the farmer, and in times of natural disaster to be ok with leaner supplies of vegetables. This helps spread the burden out in these hard times and everyone can be ok. Our first year, we offered that if we had a bad harvest we would refund money, because we were new farmers and you were taking an extra big risk with us. This year, while we could have done some things better, we, like most other farmers in our area, couldn't have predicted or prevented the damage caused by this extreme weather. However, we realize that everyone in our area is having a hard time, and our shareholders might not be financially able to get less vegetables. We're going to have a meeting this Thursday (6PM, Aug 19th at 171F University Village, Ames IA 50010) to talk about our plans for the rest of the year, and anyone interested should come.

On the upside, here's our basil harvest for today. The plants, despite being in standing water for several days in a row, still look good.