[MUSIC PLAYING] WENDY BURKHART-SPIEGEL: I'm Wendy. And me and my husband, Asher, are the owners of Common Thread Farm in Madison, New York. We've been doing CSA vegetable farming for about 18 years.
And I feel like probably every year for, I don't know, maybe over the past six years and every year, climate change has been something that's impacted farmers near us and sometimes us as well. We've had a lot of flooding. That 100-year flood is not going to be every 100 years anymore.
I've spent some time looking at the data. And it looks pretty convincing. But that's not why I believe in it. I believe it because I've been seeing more and more extreme weather events all the time.
In June and July last year, basically it rained for six weeks, which in and of itself was a disaster for us as vegetable farmers, because we have to put in the majority of our crops during that season. And we couldn't get in to till the ground and plant the crops. And then we couldn't get in to cultivate the ones-- we had a few windows. And we had to pick very carefully, OK, what's the most important food that is like the most popular food or will produce the most food in this very small window that we have time to plant.
We didn't sit down and quantify, but there was probably at least a few hundred dollars a week of food that we would have brought to market last year if we had had a chance to plant it and cultivate it. We're trying to do what we can to sort of mitigate this and mitigate that. But a lot of things, you can't-- you can't mitigate a tornado. You can't mitigate six weeks of rain. You can't mitigate an entire summer of drought.
I think that there are things that we can do. We're experimenting this year a little bit with disease-resistant tomatoes. But for the most part, we don't expect to grow tomatoes outside anymore. The wet weather exacerbates the disease.
But the disease has been just getting so bad with tomatoes that we-- we never even use to-- They used to be the easiest crop to grow. Like, you just put them in the ground, and you got more tomatoes than you could believe. And we never sprayed. We never did anything.
We look at the weather like 12 times a day. We watch and see where the little pockets of storms are. And we have to sort of rearrange our entire week. Basically, when there is a stretch, when it's not going to rain, we have to be really focused to utilize that time, because we are continuing to have a lot of rain here.
They tend to be these sudden storms that come up and pound down a lot of rain in a really short period of time. And then they are gone. And that's terrible for germinating crops, for like carrots and different things that are germinating in the field. It ends up making a crusty top, so that things can't come up through very well. It's not the kind of rainfall that we want.
You know, you got to do what you love. And you just got to live with risk, right? I wish we didn't have to live with such a high level of risk. But we're all living with that, no matter whether we're farming or doing anything else. I think we just need to figure out what we can do to make a change, so that we aren't continuing on this path with climate change.
I'm hoping that with organic farming that we're making a positive step that way. We're distributing locally, So we're not using as many fossil fuels to distribute our food.
We're doing lot of cover crops, so we have a lot of carbon trapped in our soils. But I know a lot has to happen on a lot of different fronts, and it's hard to know always what it is that you can do about it. But I think whatever any of us knows what to do we should be doing it.
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Wendy Burkhart-Spiegel of Common Thread Farm located in Madison, NY discusses extreme weather and climate variability on the farm. Common Thread Farm is a CSA working to become more resilient to climate change. The Climate Smart Farming videos are produced by the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) and ConservationBridge.