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August 30, 2011

It seems like many people have already moved on from what became tropical storm Irene. She did not annihilate Washington D.C. (so God must not be that angry). She did not obliterate Manhattan or Boston. So what was all the fuss about? Man, I can’t believe how much they over-hyped that thing.

Hey, did you see that Lady Gaga wore pants at the VMAs?

Except here the flooding continues. And yesterday news of the destruction kept on piling up. Now I know my priorities are out of whack. There are people out there who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. But I’ve never really cared too much about material things. 

Even in times like this, my focus is on the food. And there is bad news coming in from all around the region.

West of here in Schenectady as the Mohawk River rose, it completely engulfed Jumpin’ Jacks. This was a beloved riverside seasonal burger joint and ice cream stand. And you know what? I’m pissed. Last year I missed the season, so I tried to go this year early in July. Somehow I got fouled up in a pre-Independence Day celebration, and had to abandon my plan. So I never got the chance to go. Ever.

From the looks of the flooding, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were gone for good. But there is already a collection being organized by local businessman Matt Baumgartner, in the hopes that they will rebuild.

To the east in Troy, the Hudson River has seeped into Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s relatively new home. This is unfortunate as they just came to the region and renovated the building. Hopefully they have enough invested to clean it up and stick around. Despite some past hiccups I’ve had with the place, I admire what they try to do, and losing them would be a blow.

Less of a blow is the Rusty Anchor, which is a tavern on a barge. All I know is that it was in danger of being swept off its mooring and crashing into a bridge. A tugboat saved the day, but I can’t imagine the place is without damage. Still, this was another place I had wanted to eat and never had the chance. I hate having regrets.

But these two are smaller concerns, especially since early indications are that they’ll reopen.

Out in Vermont, I heard a rumor that Grafton Village Cheese Company had washed away. That simply cannot be true. It’s a big cheese company. But I did see an early video with an awful lot of water rushing nearby. Please, please say it isn’t so. They make what I find to be among the very best American cheddars (that would be the one they age for four years).

Closer to home Roxbury Farm was hit hard. This is my second year subscribing to their CSA. Last year was great. This year has been challenging. But despite the challenges, I’m glad to be a member, and plan to continue my association with the farm once this season is behind us.

Yesterday members received a newsletter that showed gorgeous fields before the storm, with after pictures that looked like lakes. They apparently have some corn that made it through which is now growing on an island. But the water around the island is so deep that they cannot drive a tractor through it.

This damage was done by the Kinderhook Creek. The good news is that upper fields, with the fall crops, while rain soaked were not flooded. And the tomatoes held out. Things are not looking so good for the cabbage, kale and collards. Frankly I’m amazed that it wasn’t a total loss. It will be interesting to see just how much food we get from them at our weekly pick up later today.

But in expectation of a lighter load I’ve already started a batch of dal makhani.

Roxbury reported that other local farms were underwater too. Specifically, Hawthorne Valley Farm, Markristo Farm, the farm at Miller’s Crossing, and Kilpatrick Family Farm. One of the local news stations was also reporting on another local farm that was indeed a complete loss, Gold Krest Farm in East Greenbush.

I’m feeling very lucky to be in my house with the power on.

Here in Albany, the temperature was cool, the skies were clear and the day was gorgeous. If it weren’t for listening to the radio and reading people’s tweets and facebook posts, it would be easy to forget that the aftermath of the not-so-stormy storm is still unfolding.

Not all local farms are as lucky as Roxbury to be supported by a large membership base. Perhaps you can try to get out to a farmers market this weekend and buy some local produce. I don’t know what is happening with the Troy or Schenectady markets on Saturday and Sunday respectively, but there are markets all over the place.

Please find the one nearest to you and help support a farmer by buying whatever they could scrape together and bring to the market. And if you can’t get to one, you can now buy from local farms online. They are going to need all the help they can get, and we really don’t want to lose more farms in the region.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt K permalink
    August 30, 2011 10:33 am

    Denison Farm, one of the (if not the) largest CSAs in the Capital Region (and our CSA) was swamped too. They have a devastating video of the loss on their Facebook Page (though I can’t figure out how to post a link to it here. I emailed Justine Denison to see if any not-for-profits were being set up to help the local farms raise money to help cover the losses, but haven’t heard back yet.

  2. September 1, 2011 9:07 pm

    It is really devastating. In efforts to find higher ground, I drove across the Mohawk River (where I could) on Monday, and in heading back to the farm today, I drove alongside the Schoharie Creek. Unbelievable damage. Barns washed away. Chicken coops drifted to the side of the road. Acres and acres of corn and crops ruined, or otherwise covered in mud. Burned barns from hayfires. Incredibly sad. Please continue to tell the story of these small farms in our area, NONE of us can stand to lose them.

  3. September 2, 2011 9:22 pm

    We at All Good Bakers w/ Sarah Gordon of have started a fund w/ the Saratoga non-profit Regional Farm & Food Project to directly benefit upstate NY farmers who have been affected by Irene. Please consider donating here:

    The Saturday Delmar Farmers Market is having a drive this Saturday & next to benefit the Schoharie County Community Action Program – these are the people on the ground, responding first to their community. Please come to the Bethlehem Middle School Saturday 9-1 w/ your donation items. A caravan of volunteers will drive everything down on Sunday/Monday. Cash/check donations welcome. Please see the market table for more info.

    Our hearts are with all who have suffered devastation.

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