Iowa Public Television


Vegetable Farmers Feel The Heat

posted on August 10, 2012

Vegetable Farmers Feel The Heat

While corn and soybean farmers are the most visible of those enduring the harsh weather another group of agricultural entrepreneurs also are victims of the heat.

Joel and Jai (Jay) Kellum of Mineral Point, Wisconsin sell their certified organic produce through farmers markets and direct marketing using the Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, model. But this year, after 15 years of hard work, the Kellum’s had the difficult job of watching the majority of their crops wither away and die.

Joel Kellum, King’s Hill Farm: "Without cooler temperature they were destined to just dry up and die in the field, same thing is happening to every corn and hay famer around here and their cultural techniques are tested and true for generations."

According to USDA, there are more than 7,800 Farmers Markets in the United States. Private groups, like Local Harvest, estimate the number of CSAs at more than 4,000.

Like many CSA operators, the Kellum’s, deliver boxes filled with a variety of vegetables to their customers every two weeks during the 5 month growing season. The Kellum’s have 190 members who invested $400 each at the beginning of the season to receive the bounty from their King’s Hill Farm. With their output slashed to nearly nothing, the couple sent their members a letter stating there would be no produce this year.

Joel Kellum, King’s Hill Farm: "It is so dry down beneath, being 14 inches behind means we need 14 inches of rain to get back to normal."

Despite the disappointment of this year’s non-existent crop, the Kellum’s plan on returning to the field next year. To help pay for next season’s seed, the couple plans on holding a fund-raiser in September.

Jai Kellum, King’s Hill Farm: "The hardest part was reading all the letters of support back from our csa members and realizing that we had the right to be sad."

Tags: agriculture organic vegetables