Erin Brethauer

Waiting for a bright day

Posted in Farming in the Blood, North Carolina by erinbrethauer on July 31, 2009

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It’s hard to tell who’s more eager for sunshine to hit the fields at Cane Creek Valley Farm: the farmers Jeremy and Amanda Sizemore, or the heavy green heirloom tomatoes that are hanging from the vines.

“I can’t believe the rain’s been holding out for this long,” says Jeremy Sizemore Friday morning around 10:30 a.m. as he walks along the rows looking for the ripened heirlooms, “It’s awesome.”

This is only the second day the Sizemore’s have been able to pick their tomatoes because of the constant rains.  Yesterday, they picked 30 boxes worth of heirlooms and today they got to 40 boxes until the rain forced them to pack up and head to home base to pack 56 CSA boxes.

“Last year at this time we were two weeks into picking,” says Jeremy, “I didn’t figure we’d have these plants because of all the rain.  I kept spraying.  That’s the only reason they’re still here.”

Because they run an organic farm, the Sizemore’s are limited in what they can do to protect their tomato plants from blights brought on by the heavy summer rains.  Mostly they can use organically approved sprays and then hope for the best.

The tomatoes now are so ready to be picked that they are weighing down the rows and, in some areas, causing rows to fall over into the mud.  Jeremy and his childhood friend Shannon Byrd pick up some stakes and a rock and set to work fixing the fallen plants.

“We’re doing this cave-man style,” muses Jeremy who forgot his hammer but found a nice flat rock to pound down the stakes.

Fighting Mud & Flood

Posted in Farming in the Blood, North Carolina by erinbrethauer on June 20, 2009

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Jeremy Sizemore of Cane Creek Valley Organic Farms is having some pretty long days with all the storms moving through Western North Carolina. Because parts of his fields are uneven, little reservoirs of water are gathering in between rows of tomato plants threatening to either drown the plants or spread disease. Jeremy and two farm workers spent all day Thursday making little drainage ditches by hand to ease the flooding.

From Reporter John Boyle:

He and his wife, Amanda, fought through nine inches of rain in May, a record, and so far this week they’ve seen torrential downpours of two inches and one inch. Both of those rains came in less than two hours.

“For us, it makes things worse,” Jeremy Sizemore said. “Anytime it’s a wet season, it makes everything, disease-wise, 10 times worse. Organic growers would rather grow in a drought.”

This is part of a bigger series on farming in Western North Carolina. Reporter John Boyle and I are following three farms through a growing season.