Rain or Shine

by Olivia Raynard

2019

            When people think about farming they tend to forget about how much influence the weather has over the final product. Throughout the growing seasons, farmers are constantly battling and working with the weather. However, with this increase of climate change in recent years, the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable, therefore, weather is having even more of an impact on farmers today than in the past. Since this is my second summer working on a farm, I have been able to see how much farmers truly depend on the weather and how the weather can impact their crops to the point where it affects their livelihood.

            Last summer (summer of 2016), the weather was quite warm and the season was relatively dry, some may argue even a drought year. Therefore, the crops would grow very fast because of the warm temperatures and direct sunlight, but irrigation systems had to be used to make sure they were getting enough water. However, this season (summer of 2017), we have been experiencing quite the opposite. We have had weeks’ worth of rain and thunderstorms, which keep the temperatures cooler and these conditions are having a huge impact on the crops during this growing season. The crops are growing much slower because it hasn’t been warm enough and we have spread row cover on most of the crops, to trap in the heat and try to kick start their growing. Even with the row cover, though, the crops are still growing much slower than last year. However, there has been an upside to all this rain, because we haven’t had to put in any irrigation system yet, since the rain is keeping the plants sufficiently wet.

            Luckily for us, the success of our crops doesn’t determine our means of life, but for other farmers, these wet cool conditions have had devastating affects on their crops. Many farmers, especially in the North Country area, depend on the farmer’s market as a way to make money and also connect with the local community to gain more customers. But since the conditions have been so poor, some farmers were unable to attend the first few farmer’s markets because they just didn’t have enough crops to fill up a table to sell. Therefore, their profits, which determine their livelihood, have taken a hit, and they have missed out on potential opportunities to gain a stronger customer base.

            These setbacks from the weather can be so extreme that farmers have to abandon or sell their farms and consider switching professions because it’s hard for them to predict how the weather will be for any given season. A farmer’s job is much harder than what most people think, and there is little compensation for that hard work. Therefore, when farms face these setbacks from the weather, they don’t always get the support they need from the community or their customers.