Montague farm preparing for fall after challenging summer
MONTAGUE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - This summer has been a tough one for farms in western Massachusetts with the extreme heat and heavy rain, but now, they are preparing for the fall harvest.
It has been an up and down year for many farms in the Pioneer Valley, including Red Fire Farm in Granby. With several fruit and vegetable crops currently growing on the property, co-owner Sarah Voiland told Western Mass News that they are looking ahead to the fall harvest.
“We’ve already harvested our garlic. We do that in July and that’s a fall and winter crop. We’ve done some onions. We’re going further into onions starting now. Potatoes have just begun, but we’ll kind of continue those over the next few months,” Voiland said.
It has not been smooth sailing for the decades-old farm during the past couple of years. Back in October, we learned they received $100,000 in donations after excessive rain in 2021 and a drought last year damaged equipment and crops. That effort and the farm’s hard work resulted in a good 2022 fall harvest. While things are a bit better this time around, Voiland said Red Fire, like other farms this summer, dealt with a devastating wrath of Mother Nature.
“Our Montague farm had over 18 inches of rain in the month of July, which is just insane. We had fields underwater, not from flooding but just puddles of rainwater that came down and drowned things,” Voiland added.
Their summer squash and zucchini stopped producing as a result and carrots were washed out of their beds. A frost in May also ruined the apple and pear crops and peaches were ruined by a freeze in February. However, Voiland acknowledged that the fields on the Hampshire County property are much better.
“We haven’t had the same levels of excessive rainfall. The crops are doing much better in the fields. They are well-drained here too, so they have been able to handle the more rain than normal,” Voiland
While still high, Red Fire’s costs have stabilized compared to the 34 percent cost increase it went through last year. The farm is hopeful that everything goes according to plan from now until the start of fall.
“With excessive rains, things can happen under the soil that you don’t see until you pull the carrots out or the potatoes out, so we have to wait and see if the diseases made damages that we will see then,” Voiland noted.
Red Fire Farm plans on pulling out their winter squashes next month, followed by root vegetables in October and November. If you would like to make a donation to the farm or any local farm in your area, you can CLICK HERE for more information.
To make a separate donation directly to Red Fire Farm, you can mail to 184 Meadow Road, Montague, MA 01351.
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