An update from CAE on Flood Relief Efforts: July 20, 2023
A hopeful response to the devastation felt by so many across Vermont this past week has been the outpouring of support. From farmers who didn’t experience loss, to those who did, to individuals across the state, and family and supporters across the country, there has been so much compassion and funds flowing into the Center for an Agricultural Economy and to the Vermont Farm Fund. Those who can have also stepped up to muck out basements, clean up fields, and share meals and resources. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Since we wrote last week CAE has been busy on all fronts, continuing to serve the community, clean up, and get trucks back on the road. Below are some of the ways we’ve been working in the community to help rebuild our local food infrastructure and support people.
Atkins Field - Atkins Field was underwater in the flood, the community garden beds washed away, the wet field meant canceling the Friday Hardwick Farmers Market, and a beloved community resource was closed to the public for a few days. On Friday, July 14th a group of CAE staff and volunteers gathered for the first round of cleaning at Atkins Field. This included removing parts of garden beds and other debris from the field, accessing damages, and cleaning sand and muck from the hoop house and pavilion.
Community Support - CAE has secured funds to directly support those impacted by the flood. This includes grocery vouchers to local stores, given out through the Hardwick Area Food Pantry and Harwick Rescue squad, vouchers to everyone who had a garden plot at Atkins Field to help supplement the food they lost to the flood, and vouchers to use at the Hardwick Farmers Market so that anyone can come get groceries or a meal and help support local farms and food businesses.
Our partners at Northeast Kingdom Organizing (NEKO) have been checking in on people across the NEK. Check out their website for ways to request help, volunteer, and donate. Flood Relief — NORTHEAST KINGDOM ORGANIZING (nekorganizing.org)
Vermont Farm Fund - The Vermont Farm Fund is already making emergency loans to farmers impacted by the floods. In the past week, over 200 individuals, artists, farmers, and small businesses have made gifts to the Farm Fund totaling over $100,000. The sheer volume and outpouring of support is overwhelming, especially as the damage and need across the state is still being documented. In response to the urgent need for flood relief in the farm community, VFF has raised its Emergency Loan amount to $15,000. We've also extended the payment term, with an option to defer payments for up to 12 months. Loans are processed quickly so farmers can start the process of rebuilding and recovery. Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported those efforts; gifts can be made to the Farm Fund online here.
Farm Connex - Our Farm Connex team worked around the clock to identify passable roads, and within hours were able to pick up dairy, vegetables, and other perishable goods from many farms and food businesses before they sustained additional losses. At this point most of our regular routes are open and we are responding to client needs as quickly as possible. Farmers are also showing up for each other. Those who were largely unaffected by the flood are supplying products to those who lost everything so they can restock their farm stands and keep customers coming. Farm Connex is aggregating and delivering those products.
Yellow Barn - Many of you have asked, and the current Yellow Barn and the site for the new building did not sustain any flood damage. They are both fine, and their timeline has not been altered due to the flooding. This bodes well for this critical infrastructure project, the need for which has been highlighted in this moment of crisis where food storage and food security are so critical. Our plans at the Yellow Barn include a large, centralized facility that will serve a community need well into the future.
CAE will keep working hard, and here are some ways you can plug in.
1) If you are in the area, visit the Hardwick Farmers Market! This Friday, 7/21 (tomorrow!) it will be at Hazen Union School (126 Hazen Union Dr, Hardwick, VT 05843). It will also be the first Food Truck Friday event, featuring many food vendors. Visit the facebook event for more details. CAE will be there selling our t-shirts and tote bags, as well as taking donations for CAE and for the Vermont Farm Fund.
2) There are many different organizations funding relief efforts, and campaigns for individual farms and food businesses that are circulating around. It can feel overwhelming to sort those all out. CAE put together a crowd-sourced spreadsheet of all the different fundraising campaigns and organizations working for farms and food business recovery. Ways to support flood relief efforts in Vermont - Google Sheets. Please share this widely as you see fit.
3) Keep buying local products from markets and farm stands. Many farms don’t know exactly what they need yet. Pay attention to what your farm neighbors are asking for, and show up in the ways they would like.
4) Continue supporting CAE and direct flood relief efforts as we continue to assess damage and immediate priorities. Please consider making a gift today.
Thank you! It takes all of us and we appreciate each of you!
From the whole team at the Center for an Agricultural Economy