Yesterday, I posted links for anyone in the community affected by this weeks’ flooding. But as the floodwaters begin to recede, we begin to assess the extent of the damage done. It’s become immediately apparent that our Lowcountry local partner farmers, fisherman, and delivery agents have all been affected by the flood as much as our teams and as much as ourselves. Hanna Raskin posted an article on Monday comparing the flooding to a shipwreck.
SC Department of Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers addressed some of the concerns facing our state in his weekly radio address. While it’s early yet to even begin a full assessment, I did reach out to some friends and colleagues to see things through their perspective.
I spoke with Catherine Schopfer over at Anson Mills. She indicated Glenn Roberts saw flooding in the parking lot, a mudslide and a good bit of silt covering things now. So much so she indicated you could probably make pottery. That said she shared that the actual mill and warehouse sit on an elevated slab and had avoided any significant damage. Catherine indicated Glenn was already hard back at work and milling. That’s Glenn Roberts for you.
Sara Clow down at Grow Food Carolina indicated that while they stayed relatively dry in the warehouse, partners throughout the hundred mile radius of the Lowcountry have all been pretty disastrous affected. I asked if anyone had heard from Sidi Limehouse and she said she’s seen him yesterday and that he was good. She expressed concern about farms along the Edisto river, which is expected to crest today. We’ll know more over the course of the next few days as reports come in.
Ambrose farms posted several pictures of several devastated fields- one image showed a field of beans intended for Charleston completely under water. In an email today, April Clough said their arugula was a total loss, but they’re still pulling baby corn, okra and have a good bit of blueberries and peas left frozen- at least something that we can work with as chefs. If you’ve been out there, you know that the beautiful black dirt on Wadmalaw is due in part to historic silting. Guess this is one of those events. We’ll keep checking back in on Pete and Sam- they’re friends.
Brian Ward out at the Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center on 17 indicated they’d been able to control some of the drainage in the fields at the research station. It sounds to me as though any losses were negligible. Most importantly, the African Runner Peanuts stayed dry and are slated for harvest in about 3 weeks. Sadly, Brian suspects that may not be the case elsewhere in the state. He suspects fall brasicas (collards, broccolis, cauliflowers etc) will be strongly impacted, and that farms in the Midlands and along watersheds are most at risk for failure. Much will depend upon the type of soil and the relative age of the plant. From corresponding with Brian, my understanding is that while most larger farms will carry flood insurance, declaration of a national emergency may enable smaller farms access to aid. If things are able to dry out, there is still time that could allow for a crop before a hard freeze.
I reached Nat Bradford to check in on him and his family. He sent me a picture of his son (oddly enough named Noah) in the middle of an underwater collard patch he had to swim to get to. Corresponding with him today, he indicated Sumter residents were happy to see the sun and that waters had receded and the field had begun to dry out. You’ve got to love the Bradfords for the simple fact that the glass is always half full!
Lindsay Brooks from St. Jude Farms indicated that SC DNR has closed local shellfish beds for an indeterminate period as they wait for waters to clear. This could be a week; it could be 30 days. While that means that local beds are closed, she was optimistic about operations as St. Jude has other beds in and around Beaufort that were not affected and are not closed. She sent me this great link from the Charleston City Paper yesterday on the closing of shellfish beds.
Last and certainly not least, I spoke with Scott Blackwell of High Wire Distillery. Though they experienced a small amount of flooding through a neighbor’s roof, it sounds like High Wire has escaped relatively unscathed. It’s a huge relief to me to know that The Hooch is safe- when all this is said and done i’m going to be ready for a cocktail, and probably a bigun!
I’ve got a few other inquiries hoping to learn what I can regarding the state of this year’s rice crop and the extent of any challenges they may have had with the grow out of historic Purple Ribbon Sugar Cane down on Sapelo Island. So far it sounds as though the Beaufort / Savannah areas were largely spared, but that’s not the case around the ACE basin, the Midlands or Pee Dee. I’ll continue to report what I find. If you’ve heard any news about SC farms, please share in comments.
Keep your farmers and providers in your thoughts, and please buy local to support them.