Todd and Gary at the Market

Sr. KC here. I just got off the phone with my friend and local farmer, Todd Howard. He has been a wonderful gift to us here at St Vincent’s Grow Appalachia program both in the Greenhouse Mentoring program and as a partner in the sustainable agriculture movement in Floyd County. He called to see if any of my families had some extra beans they wanted to sell at the Farmer’s Market this weekend. Another of Todd’s many jobs is market manager for the Floyd County Farmer’s Market. The market had its best week last week and he really wants to keep the momentum going. He has been selling produce he and his partner Gary grow in two bottoms here. That was until yesterday about 10:30 in the morning when the rain came.
He noticed the rain was coming down pretty hard and walked out on to his porch just as his partner drove up. They decided to go check on the garden at Open Fork which sets in a bottom. When they got there they saw the creek was full and moving fast but not too bad. Then they noticed water coming over into the garden and within fifteen minutes there was four foot of water in their main market garden. Here is a YouTube video of the water.Todd’s Market garden
When I saw Crystal this morning she told me that Brushy, the hollow where she and several of my Grow Appalachia families live, got hit hard and most of the gardens were gone. I’ve made some calls but haven’t gotten through. They are probably out cleaning up. Crystal lost everything but maybe three rows of beans. Her sister-in-law lost three bottoms and the hay bottoms on Route 7 were all flooded.
Farming in the mountains is a tricky business. Most of the land is hillside and rocky except for the “bottoms” where the creeks run. There is soil there and most of it is fairly fertile. And most of the time, if you don’t get flooded in the spring rains, you do OK. The weather has been bizarre this year with August being wet instead of dry. And then when you add man-made obstacles like holding ponds on strip mines that fail…well you get flood.
Todd is a market farmer so after he gave himself an hour to feel sorry for himself, he and Gary are out salvaging what they can to put up and then planting some more fall crops. As far as my Brushy families, they have lived on this land for generations. That’s why we put up so much”, one woman told me, “in case we have a year where we can’t, we wont’ go hungry”.