We caught up with farmer Ian Fels in the midst of a vegetable plant-out at CSA@Work partner farm Mezza Luna. He had just put lettuce, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower in the ground and has a packed planting schedule in the upcoming weeeks on his Snoqualmie Valley farm. Spring is always a busy time, but this year’s soggy weather has compressed his pre-season farm work into fewer days.
A late season
According to the National Weather Service in Seattle, the city measured 44.7 inches of rain between October and April, making it the wettest such period since records began in 1895. Unrelenting rain may wear on many residents, but for folks like Ian whose business patterns and workdays depend on weather, the deluge has significantly delayed his operations. “Last Tuesday it rained 1.5 inches,” said Ian, “and small sections of our field flooded.”
Ian usually starts seeds in his propagation room in late February or March. He practices succession planting, which means that he plants seeds every few weeks so he can expect a continuous harvest as the season progresses.
However, this year he has not been able to pull the vegetable starts out of his propagation room to plant in the soggy ground. Not only is the room getting crowded, but the young plants are catching up in size to the older plants. Once that happens, the benefits of succession planting are lost. Delays in planting means that his harvests will be delayed, as will his sales.
Variable weather conditions have affected farmers for millennia, but shoppers today can simply opt to buy produce from other places that have not broken rain records. Choosing to buy local food helpss local growers, reduces our carbon footprint, makes for healthy meals and grows community.
To support our King County farmers is to experience the delayed season with them. Try shopping the farmers market to see what is available and ask growers questions about their farm, or sign-up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
King County employees can sign up for the CSA@Work program, which conveniently connects CSA programs like Mezza Luna to 13 King County worksites. Mezza Luna will deliver to CSA subscribers at the Environmental Lab and Columbia City Center for Health.
It doesn’t hurt to keep fingers crossed for sunshine.