November 8, 2013

Post Flood Recovery

By Stacy Hoelting, Culinary Arts Student

The infamous 100-year flood that damaged and destroyed thousands of homes throughout the Front Range of Colorado and left many towns desolate, also completely demolished entire farms and crops for the remainder of the growing season. One of these particular farms, 63rd St. Farm in Boulder, a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm experienced absolute ruin when the constant rainfall forced the overflowing river close to the property to completely flood their crops. With the farm under six to twelve inches of water at a time when harvest was at its peak and an additional nine weeks left of vegetables, the farm was forced to shut down their CSA for the remainder of the year. Being that Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts works closely with the farm for their Farm To Table® Experience, many students were wondering what might happen at this particular point in their curriculum.

Amanda Scott, owner and operator of the farm, claims that the Health Department has deemed the water to be contaminated with human pathogens and she has taken her own responsibility to have tests done at DU as well to confirm these contaminants. As a result of the standing water that was in the farm’s fields, Scott refuses to allow anyone to become ill who comes in contact with the farm, so she hasn’t accepted outside help for cleanup just yet. Considering this fact, students were not allowed to work on the farm and instead focused on learning about how to develop the contaminated soil into clean, well-functioning soil for future crops.

While learning the emotional account of the farm undergoing the flood from Scott personally and seeing the damage that the flood has done to the thousands of vegetables and the soil, one can only imagine the physical, mental, and emotional frustrations and hardships that the farm operators are undergoing. It seemed that Scott and her farmhands had finally begun acceptance, stating, “Being a CSA farmer, we have to understand that, technically, Mother Nature has taken over and there isn’t anything we could have done about it, so we have to accept that we are done this year. Being a business owner and caring about the people who have supported us, I can’t just call it quits. I want to keep those relationships and thank them for all of their support.” In hopes of showing appreciation of support and building on those relationships, 63rd St. Farm is planning a Farm-to-table dinner for their CSA members on October 12th, complete with beverages, a live band, and all food prepared by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts students and chefs.

Until that time, Scott will be preparing for next year’s growing season two months early, by drying out the soil, tilling, and awaiting a hard freeze this winter to kill any potential pathogens. On the positive side of the spectrum, the farm did save their turkeys and chickens, carrying four chickens at a time and two turkeys at a time, running them to safety. CSA members will have their Thanksgiving turkeys come November, and in all, 63rd St. Farm seems in high hopes, knowing that “compared to all that has happened and what everyone in the Front Range is going through, everyone on the farm is safe and the house is still standing.”