Story written by MN350 member Claire Curran
Gone are the days of gentle rain, or so it seems. These days, it’s either suffocating drought or devastating thunderstorm, leaving farmers scrambling for solutions. This has certainly been the experience of Dayna Burtness, lead farmer at Laughing Loon Farm. This is Dayna’s first season; she’s rented 5 acres of land from Seeds Farm and has started a successful organic farm. Her veggies can be found on your plate at restaurants like the Common Roots Café and The Craftsman Restaurant. But, this could have easily been Dayna’s first and last season.
On June 14ththe skies opened releasing a downpour of rain. Eight inches quickly poured, creating a 50 foot wide
river, drowning the majority of Dayna’s crops and submerging the greenhouse under 4ft of water. A few days later, a hail storm ravaged what crops remained and poked holes in the green house. Hail storms and torrential downpours in June? This weather is certainly out of character for summers in Minnesota or at least it should be.
Farmers around the country are experiencing firsthand the effects of global climate change. Dayna fears this weather is the new normal and that farmers around the world will have to adapt to unpredictable, unstable weather conditions, hoping they will still manage to make a profit. Climate change is already a startling reality for farmers, especially organic farmers who have little governmental support. For farmers like Dayna in Minnesota and around the country, climate change is not a debate.
It’s clear; storms, droughts and other natural disasters are damaging our global food supply. But where does it start? Where do these storms come from? As Dayna can tell you, more and more research is showing the link between food production and climate change. It’s easy to think only of gasoline, cars, and factories as sources of pollution, but raising livestock and food production plays an equally significant role.
That’s why Dayna is farming in the first place. For her, organic farming is what makes sense. She knows that farming isn’t about profit or just putting food on the table. It’s about an ethic of land stewardship, of living in harmony with nature. It’s about working hard without the assistance of chemical fertilizers because that’s what’s best for the health of the whole planet. It’s about nourishing her global and local community.
In the days, weeks and this first month after that devastating storm, Dayna and the folks at Laughing Loon Farm have been surrounded by a caring community of fellow farmers, neighbors and perfect strangers who flocked to the farm to lend a hand. Donations from over 100 individuals and businesses poured into a PayPal account, saving Dayna from taking out a loan or opening a new credit card to make much needed repairs to the irrigation system. Friendly farmers brought over extra crops to be transplanted. The weather may have ravaged Dayna’s farm, but her community didn’t leave her to drown. Dayna probably won’t make a profit this year but her crops are bouncing back.
For organic farmers like Dayna these kinds of accidents are particularly tragic because they know that food production plays a large role in climate change and though they may try to nourish the earth with sustainable, organic farming practices, the damage has already been done. They are experiencing consequences of generations of damaging agricultural, governmental and business practices. Building a world without climate change isn’t as easy as buying
organic food but it’s certainly a great place to start. Climate change touches nearly every aspect of our lives and once we see those connections and connect those dots we can choose to support farmers, businesses and governmental policies that are building a healthier environment. We can all be a part of the solution.
As climate changes, organic methods look like the path to adaptive agriculture by Ron Meader, MinnPost