Last week western Massachusetts endured both hellish heat and high water, as many rivers flooded banks following days of hot, muggy air and rainfall that felt almost tropical. As the climate changes, we can expect the intensity and variability of weather events to increase, particularly summer rainfall. Farmers are among those most directly impacted.
Luckily, Intervale Farm in Westhampton escaped the worst it. Their vegetables and cut flowers, which supply most of their income, were largely unscathed.
“The only thing to flood was our pasture beside the brook,” says farmer Maureen Dempsey. “We had some erosion but nothing serious, and all the sheep are safe.”
Dempsey has farmed alongside her husband, Rick Tracy, for decades, continuing the farming tradition on 200 acres of land that Tracy’s family purchased in 1936. Today they raise veggies and flowers on about 10 acres, bedding plants for home gardeners in three greenhouses, chickens for eggs, and a small flock of sheep.
“We got the sheep kind of by accident,” says Tracy. “I picked them up from a friend on a whim. But they’ve proved helpful, keeping the pastures clear without much supervision while we focus mostly on the vegetables.”
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