I am determined to get back to writing again in the next week, but for now I will share my latest piece that just ran in the fall Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association fall newsletter.
For those of us farming in Maryland (and most everywhere else) climate change is hitting home. Whether it was the release of the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, this summer’s drought, last summer’s flooding, or learning the new word “derecho”, we have all been facing pretty regular weather drama. My children know exactly how to handle a tornado warning now and it seems we are popping into our hall closet on a regular basis. We have suddenly made the shift from fighting impending climate change to scrambling to adapt and it is pretty overwhelming.
On our farm, we are thinking about extending the growing season both to avoid farming during the hottest part of the year and to spread out our risk over a longer growing season. We recently joined Heron There Farm to start a CSA in what we used to think of as the “off season”. Other Maryland farmers have been doing this for years but it might become essential for the rest of us to follow suit.
One way farmers can help each other is to share notes about adapting to climate change. I have so many questions. Has anyone found the most bolt resistant lettuce? Which generators work best to run essentials like irrigation during our increasingly common power outages? Do we need to increase our vigilance against new plant diseases and weed varieties and if so, how? How can we be better prepared both for warmer temperatures and extreme weather events? Does everyone else worry about their hoophouses when the winds pick up or has someone figured out the best way to secure them? What about using our proximity to Washington to help effect national policy on farming and climate change?
Adapting to climate change while running farm operations is overwhelming but working together could help us protect our farms and build a stronger farming community at the same time. In the meantime, here are a few resources. There are many more to be found.
- Climate and Farming: climatechange.cornell.edu
- USDA Zone Map: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2012/120125.htm
- More on the Zone Map: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/rethinking-the-new-zone-hardiness-map/