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Microburst Damages the Montague Farm

In the late afternoon of Tuesday July 30th, a severe thunderstorm hit our Montague farm with a microburst.  Screaming winds were blowing debris and rain in multiple directions at once. In the matter of a few minutes, trees up and down town roads and farm roads cracked and fell, and the power went out.  Farm staff everywhere scrambled for shelter.

Once it passed, the cell-phone hubbub started as we checked in with each other to find out what happened where and if everybody was all right. Thankfully, all our crew made it through safe.

Overnight work started to get our farm generators on and preserve our harvest of the day and plants that needed watering with no power to run the well. At 5am the next morning, power returned, with big thanks to Montague DPW and Eversource teams working all night.

View a Video of the storm damage in our area – from Western Mass News.

We’ve been able to assess most of the fields as of this writing (7/31) and we took some tough hits. That’s why we’re reaching out for donations to help with covering our losses and the extra work of cleaning up.

Caterpillar tunnels of our early tomatoes and peppers got blown and bent metal, the protective plastic hauled off by the winds, and the rows of almost-ripe peppers and staked tomatoes laden with fruit knocked over and some plant stems snapped. These were very costly crops to raise, and we’re losing them right at the harvest time.

Out towards the Connecticut River, we have another big pepper field that also sustained damage from blown down plants. Two more of our tomato fields, multiple rows of laboriously staked tomatoes are down too. Peppers and tomatoes are susceptible to sun-scald when the fruit aren’t shaded by the plant leaves, so if we don’t lift and reinforce all the stakes, we will lose most of the crop in those rows. But re-staking these plants is a huge task.

Hail put holes in the leaves of much of our greens out in the CT river fields, as well as leeks, and young plants of upcoming crops for things like zucchini and cucumbers.

We also are facing big challenges getting to some of our fields. Key farm roads are blocked by large fallen trees and dangerous hanging branches that require chain-saw work and potentially professional services to safely remove the blockages and hazards.

As of 8/6, we are now estimating the crop losses and damage cleanup to be a loss of about $54,000.

We would be so grateful for any donations towards our cleanup efforts and offsetting the crop losses. And if any tree-removal professionals are reading this, please reach out!

Thanks very much!

Sarah, Ryan, Wally, Chester and all the farm crew.

The rainbow we saw right after the storm ended.
Pepper tunnel damaged by high winds
Leeks with bullet-like holes from hail.
Trees down, power out.
Night work to get the roads clear.
Big thanks to Montague DPW for their round the clock work to get the roads cleared!
Removing the smaller trees from the farm roads with our tractor.
Wally with a tree down across the farm road.
Our kids' swing up in the tree.
Getting the basil harvest done, and checking out the damage, right after the storm.