JOHNS ISLAND, S.C.– Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in South Carolina. Many Farms across the state were destroyed by the floods, but there is a way you can help.
Farm Aid is a national organization that helps farmers. Right now, they are accepting donations for farmers across the Lowcountry. The money will go to local farmers who lost crops during the floods.
Click here to donate to Farm Aid. Make sure to specify in the comments that you want your donation to go to either Lowcountry or South Carolina Farmers.
Nikki Seibert-Kelley is the Director of Sustainable Agriculture for Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit that partners with local farmers to teach them the best practices to run a successful farm.
She says yes, some local farms were destroyed by the amount of water we saw earlier this month, but they’re not focused on that. They’re thinking about what’s next.
“People who get into farming, are passionate about it and they love it,” Seibert-Kelley says. “And they’re not going to let something like a flood stop them.”
Local farmer Harleston Towles has a plot of land on Johns Island. He agrees with Seibert-Kelley. “We’re all probably naturally optimistic. You gotta be. Something can always go wrong.”
Majority of his crops were killed by water. “It just wiped out the whole side of the beds,” Towles pointed out. “Stunted the growth of all of them. They’ll probably never come back.”
He lost a number of plants like carrots and radishes. “They’re going to be soft. You got yellowing on the leaves. It just makes them unmarketable to some degree.”
His loss has a large impact on farmers markets and local restaurants who make their menus around crops like his. “Restaurants are completely dry with local produce.” Towles said. “They’re like ‘hey, you got anything?’ And we’re like, nobody’s got much of anything.”
Seibert-Kelley explained that like any business, farming has many risks. They weather just adds another layer. “There’s the risk you have with market fluctuation, labor and all of those other issues as well,” she listed. “Then they also have to face the challenges of weather.”
Towels says experiences like these teach you and you learn for next time. One of the things he learned, “keep your soil covered.” He went on to say even that is difficult because some plants do not grow well if they are covered in plastic. Events like these he says teach you and you learn for the future.
Vegetables like carrots would have carried though the winter months, but now Towles clients will not get his until next May. He says restaurants who were depending on those vegetables are now having to get creative.