Oct 12, 2017
California wildfires leave vegetable farms in jeopardy

While California winegrape operations are receiving much of the media attention regarding the devastating wildfires in key agricultural regions of the state, plenty of vegetable growers also have been impacted by the destruction.

As of Oct. 12, media reports indicated the death toll from the statewide wildfire disaster was at 23, and the number was likely to increase as more information became available.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, several small vegetable farms in Sonoma County have fallen victim to the North Bay fires, including several that were founded in the past six years by young farmers taking part in the local organic farm movement. While properties are still partly intact, many farmers have lost homes and essential infrastructure, and they said that getting back to the business of providing vegetables to customers will be an uphill battle.

According to the Chronicle’s SFGate website,

“In Glen Ellen, Oak Hill Farm, Flatbed Farm and Bee-Well Farms either burned completely or suffered severe damage, as did Let’s Go Farm and Leisen’s Bridgeway Farms in Santa Rosa.

“Those farms alone each had a huge impact,” said Evan Wiig of the Farmers Guild in Sebastopol, a network of local farms including several of the ones lost in the fire. He said the fire’s influence on local agriculture will be “massive.”

“We lost pretty much everything, but our animals have been able to survive,” said Melissa Lely, 27, of Bee-Well Farms, which she founded in 2015 with her husband, Austin, on 40 acres of leased land. The couple lost their home and at least $50,000 in farm equipment, plants and crops.”

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