Blueberries Photo Cody Chan

With this summer’s extreme rainfall, many local farmers are losing significant portions of their crops and struggling to salvage what they can.

Waitsfield farmer David Hartshorn noted that this growing season was challenging right from the start, with strawberries the first to feel the stress last spring. “Right from the get-go that was a struggle because it was dry, and then we had the big freeze (in May),” Hartshorn said. Pollinators were not showing up, either. But Hartshorn and his team forged on, and “with a lot of diligence, we had one of the best strawberry years we've ever had, even though we picked 2,000 quarts in the pouring rain.” The farm produced about 3,700 quarts total, with a strong pick-your-own showing despite the weather.





“We brought them inside and flipped them into dry containers and dried the old containers,” Hartshorn recounted. “It was quite a chore, but it was a fantastic berry season.”

Not so for the blueberries, though. “Blueberry season was just nothing but rain, and it was a horrible season.” Hartshorn noted that he found the blueberries sour this year, and pick-your-own also drops off as the raindrops start to fall. The heavy rain also knocked berries that were already saturated to the ground.

“And then the fruit fly came in and capped it off,” Hartshorn said. As an organic operation, the farm relies on botanical treatments – and in a rainy year, those treatments get washed of.

"Maybe 800 pints total,” Hartshorn said of this year’s blueberry crop. “There should be thousands of pints. It just wasn’t a year to do it."

The next crop is corn, and while this year’s corn is getting high marks for flavor, Hartshorn said, “we’re throwing away 50% of the ears right now to the worm, and they just didn’t size up because they were sitting in water, so you can count on a 50% reduction in sales right there."

In short, Hartshorn said, "Been a real struggle this summer to put anything out for anybody.”

Pumpkins are next, and powdery mildew is, inevitably, coming on strong as the year’s farming challenges just drag on. But Hartshorn takes a broader view.

“Remember last year, now, every weekend was sunny, every crop last year was great,” he mused, adding, “and what a difference a year makes."