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Rte 100 Corridor: before & after the Hurricane

Green Energy Times ran a special feature in our current Aug. 15, 2011 Issue that highlighted many of the businesses along Route 100 that have taken sustainable measures that help to set a standard for our future – outstanding examples to follow.
Along came Hurricane Irene causing unbelievable devastation to our beautiful state… Unfortunately, Rte 100 was one of the hardest hit areas.
We followed up with many of these businesses to find out how they are and to see what we could do to help.  Following are the stories from the feature section and then the follow-up information that we received back from or about them and of their needs.

Kingsbury Market Garden

284 Route 100 Warren, VT

Kingsbury Market Garden (284 Route 100 Warren, VT ) is a unique agricultural venture. The historic farmstead on Route 100 in the Mad River Valley was conserved by the Vermont Land Trust in late 2007 and sold to the VT Foodbank (VFB) the following year. The conditions of the sale were the following: the owners would grant public access along the property to the Mad River Path, they would protect permanent riparian buffers through no till practice, and the remaining acreage would be used to produce food in an ecologically responsible manner, a portion of which would be distributed to food shelves and meal sites throughout the state of Vermont. The farm is now in its 2nd year of vegetable production. Bound by our lease with the VFB, we must provide 30,000# of produce to the Foodbank annually. Having accomplished that, we are allowed to run our own for profit business off the farm.

Our business is twofold. We wholesale vegetables to local restaurants and stores and we manage a wonderful little farm store/bakery, right on the premises. 95% of what we sell is either produced in our fields or in the surrounding region. Our tractors and irrigation pump run on B100 which is supplied to us by Nava Biofuels in Northfield, VT. Our hearth ovens are powered by the energy collected through two solar trackers. Our walk-in cooler utilizes the Freeaire System which harnesses cold air from outside when the mercury drops. We ha


ve four movable greenhouses which allow us to extend the growing season by almost 5 mos. without any energy – save the sun. We have plans to build a Pain Mound System which will warm the radiant floor of ourstarter house. We will soon be bringing in aged manure which will be combined with vegetable waste to produce our own compost.

We put away stores of food allseason so that we can cook with our own ingredients year round. And we arestocking the local food shed with a significant amount of highly nutritious calories.

Vegetables are our currency. The sun gives us power. Our waste gives us nutrients.The farm store is open Th, Fr, Sa, Su 11-6.

September 2, 2011   7:09 am

Thanks so much for the kind and encouraging words.  We were hit hard but are still open and hanging in there.  We are all lucky to be safe and still have homes.  The force of the river was phenomenal. There are pics on the farm’s FBook page.
Warmest regards,

The Impact of Hurricane Irene on Kingsbury Farm and Kingsbury Market Garden

By Sunday afternoon, the Mad River was raging through the southern portion of Kingsbury Farm.  Three of our four high tunnels were flooded and we were forced to cut the end walls in order to let the water pass through.  Having previously gone through a series of questions from the state about how our movable high tunnels would fair in a flood, we were actually prepared to do this.  Each anchoring system is strong enough to hold 10 times the weight of a high tunnel structure and that has proven true.  By Sunday evening, we were already on the internet researching health issues and regulations associated with flooded produce.  Several Cooperative Extension sites offered rough guidelines and left us with the impression that flooded produce could not be harvested for 4-6 weeks post flooding but then would be deemed safe for consumption. With that knowledge, we immediately realized that our pepper and heirloom season had been brought to an abrupt end but found comfort in the fact that our fall storage crops could be harvested on schedule in mid October.  By Monday afternoon, we had received news which contradicted this assumption.  According to USDA guidelines, any produce which has come in contact with flood water is considered to be “adulterated” and therefore, illegal to sell.  There may be an exception for winter squash but we are currently awaiting a definitive ruling on that crop.  Additionally, it is deemed unsafe and illegal to plant an edible crop into soil within 60 days of flooding. Thus, we are unable to sew our high tunnels to late fall/ winter greens (rendering them economically useless to us for the next 7 months).

Let us now discuss the impact of the storm on the actual farm land.  There was significant scouring of topsoil in our south field and high tunnel field.  We had just prepared that ground to sew winter cover crops and winter greens.   When beds are prepared for sewing, they are tilled which leaves the soil loose and “fluffed”, a state which is extremely vulnerable to erosion. That said, we lost a significant amount of topsoil.  Beds that were convex by about 8 inches on Saturday are now concave leaving 6 inch depressions.  The tire tracks are actually higher than the beds.  We also lost a significant amount or river bank just south of the swimming hole.  We currently estimate the land loss to be 75′ wide x 200′ long x 10′ deep (150,000 sf of earth).  Originally, we had a 75′ buffer between cropped fields and the river; now the crops literally hang over a ledge above the river.  This portion of the farm will continue to erode until it is stabilized.  We have already called FEMA, 211, the VLT and the Natural Resource Conservation Agency to inform them of the damage.

It is still difficult for us to calculate the economic ramifications due to this violent storm.   At present, we have plenty of unharmed tomatoes between the Eastern most high tunnel which did not flood and our heated starter house by the farm store. Our most recent succession of salad greens is on high ground and was untouched by flood water. We have well over 4000# of carrots in storage and all of our onions are currently drying in the upper level of the barn.  The autumn cold crops are on high ground and are therefore safe.  Potatoes are also on high ground which did not flood, however we are crossing our fingers that late blight will not set in (as it has already ravaged much of the region).  We have 1000# of unadulterated tomatoes harvested and stockpiled in our proofing room.  Our plan was to sell them to restaurants this week but many of our markets have also incurred great damage from the storm and are in no position to buy produce (American Flatbread, Green Cup, Mint, Pitcher Inn).  We have not yet had the opportunity to discuss the situation in detail with our partners/ landlords at the Vermont Foodbank.

It is surreal to look upon the acres of intact produce at Kingsbury Farm and accept that the food cannot be sold or even eaten.  We have to change our mindset and game plan drastically.  The task at hand is no longer “how do we get all of this stuff out of the ground and sold”- it is  “how do we get this stuff plowed in and put to rest”.

We offer our sincere gratitude to all of you who have offered help to us in the last 24 hours.  We need to wait until things dry out before we can begin the cleanup of fields and high tunnels… at that point, we may indeed call upon helping hands.  We know that a lot of you have been out and about helping local businesses to clean up and get open again…By helping them, you are in turn helping us by restoring our markets.  We thank you for that!

The best way to help us right now is to come down to the store and shop.

Thank you,
Kingsbury Market Garden

About Kingsbury Market Garden
The Kingsbury Market Garden is a Farmer Foodbank Fellowship in the Mad River Valley.  We lease the conserved farm and infrastructure from the Vermont Foodbank (VFB) in exchange for 40,000 pounds of produce to be dispersed to food insecure Vermonters through VFB network partners.  In addition to meeting the aforementioned terms of the lease, we also operate a farm store and bakery open to the public.   We sell homegrown produce  (currently in transition to become certified organic), regionally grown fruits, regionally produced cheeses, naturally leavened breads and pizza shells, farmstead soups, tarts and other humble specialties made on the premises in a state certified kitchen.

We accept SNAP benefits, Visa, Mastercard, checks and cash.

802 496 6815  · ·

Seasoned Books

Sandy’s Books & Bakery is a little place with a lot of heart and soul. Located in scenic Rochester village along Route 100, the combination bookstore and bakery hot spot has become a gathering place for locals and travelers alike. Sandy’s has been operating for about 10 years, growing from a book only enterprise to include the food and agricultural aspects they have today. It’s a quirky place with reggae music in the background and a “May All Be


Fed” proclamation over the kitchen door. It’s downright comfortable. The food is all made from scratch, a fusion of rustic and nouveau, with lots of local producers involved. The book part of the business specializes in materials on Yankee ingenuity, rural enterprise, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. The values purported in such books are realized throughout the business such as the organic garden out back to supply ingredients for the kitchen. Owners Sandy Lincoln and Larry Plesent live in an off grid PV system, hand-built house up in the nearby hills.
September 2, 2011  5:09 pm
Hi Folks,

Many thanks for the emails and well wishes from everyone. We are all alive and well in central Vermont!

Hurricane Irene came through and dumped nine feet of water on us in a single day. Water levels rose slowly for several hours, and then jumped dramatically higher. Within 15 minutes overworked culverts failed, and then were tossed aside like candy wrappers. A hundred bridges collapsed in Central VT including 15 covered bridges that had stood for nearly 150 years. Our little town of Rochester (pop 1200 on weekends) was completely cut off from the outside world. Electricity failed, but our town’s well made water system worked continuously through the crisis. The sewer plant shut down and sewer mains were washed aside like the overwhelmed culverts that, once gone, left ten foot deep gashes across our main roads, secondary roads, and driveways.
One of our friends lost their home when it crashed down into the raging brook. I had dropped off one of their daughters (who works for my wife at her Bakery) just an hour before.

Fording tire deep water, downed power lines and trees (I drove with a chainsaw to get around the first day) I evacuated my wife and a neighbor from the Bakery just as downtown was cut off by rising water and moving gravel. I made 4 trips across a swollen brook crossing ferrying people and supplies. Walking to a nearby friend’s house to dry off, we had a beer and a chat. When I went back to the brook I found myself staring down into a 12 foot ravine! The entire area I had just been driving on was gone. Sobering thought.

Yet another ravine blocked the way to our warm and dry, solar powered paradise. We hiked a solid mile to home, but enjoyed hot showers and a video while most of our town stood dark and the storm slowed through the night until the winds arrived. Our mountain house sustained no damage at all, but the road was trashed. Whole sections of town were cut off from the center, where some services (fuel, water some generated power) existed. Anyone with a working front loader, dump truck, excavator or backhoe (or just a strong back and a shovel) jumped in to help. I removed 5 trees from the road heading down the mountain.

The valleys were hit hard. There is a power transmission line running 28 feet above a cornfield. I saw the power line in the water with my own eyes. Eight homes I know of were destroyed. I photographed a 7.5ft water mark in one friend’s kitchen. Many houses had extensive water damage and a thick layer of clay coating the first floor. The town cemetery washed out and coffins floated in the water and lodged on rock piles willy nilly.

Our town was completely alone. Everyone squared away their families as best they could and got to work. People, who cooked, cooked. People who ran heavy equipment jumped in. Organizers organized, volunteers volunteered, and everyone shared what they had. We kept the Bakery open, making French bread and bagels and soothing frayed nerves. People who had money paid. People with credit wrote it down. Everyone who worked or was devastated could eat for free.

I learned what anarchy is during those three days. Anarchy is not rioting in the streets. Anarchy is not pillaging and looting. Anarchy is when your buddy jumps out of the truck and starts directing traffic while something is going on, and then leaves when the operation is completed. Anarchy is feeding people because they are hungry and giving them showers because they are dirty. Then you continue doing what you were doing before you stopped doing that and did the thing that needed doing at that moment.

I confess that I was more than a little disappointed when FEMA, Red Cross, National Guard, State Police, the Governor and the Bethel volunteer fire department showed up to check in on us. We appreciated the attention, but we just didn’t need water, air and rope rescuers anymore and we all had to stop walking around town drinking our beers in public and driving our ATVs on the main road. CVPS power showed up with a dozen Canadian line trucks in tow. Despite the talk from the State Troopers scaring the old ladies by telling them they would be cut off for 3 to 6 months, the intrepid crews had power going within 24 hours. We all cheered when they drove by.

Farmers in Brandon dropped off produce, musicians from Ripton wanted to know where to send money to. I drove over the mountain on newly restored roads (single lane only) and went to the Soap Factory for the first time that week. The air of normalcy was unnerving. People waited for the ATM, went shopping, and drove right by without waving.

I missed the crisis, the camaraderie, the shared sense of danger and challenge, and the town work party atmosphere. The danger had passed, months of cleanup and insurance claims remained. No one lost their life and no one got hurt, and we met a lot of people we never spoke to before. Soon our town will appear normal too. I hope it won’t be too normal.

All the Best,  Larry Plesent and the Soap Crew

A Solar Story

I am siting at my desk on a perfect high summer eve. Everywhere there are people. At the South end of the property a wedding party of a hundred or more are watching a first dance and celebrating the union of two families with the hope that love will nourish and last. At the North end, where the nineteenth century horse barn has evolved into a twenty-first century wood-fired bakery, another hundred or more people gather for simple pizza made with near-by ingredients. Out on the field kids run and shout and play and come when called because the calling is for food and drink that hopes to keep a promise; a promise that it’s not only a joy to eat, but too, that it’s nutritious, and that it’s making was not a taking from the world or the generations that will follow.

The truth is, providing for so many people’s needs on any given day takes a great deal of energy. The lights, refrigeration, and the many machines necessary in a modern competitive economy require about 100,000kW/yr. at Lareau Farm. Historically 1/3rd of that electricity came from nuclear, 1/3rd from Hydro Quebec, and 1/3rd from fossil fuels.
This energy mix is unstable and in conflict with both our economy and our ecology.

Last August, after a great deal of reflection, for the propriety of
the choice is not wholly self-evident, we chose to install twelve AllEarth Renewables solar trackers on 1.5 acres of our North hay field. We now produce a little bit less hay but about 80% of the farm’s total energy requirements.

I do not know if this technology is the ultimate solution, I suspect it is not, but I believe it is an important step toward a necessary realization that our modern lives, with all of it’s many wonders and benefits, will not prevail unless we move toward more ecologically responsible forms of energy.

Sunshine Valley Berry Farm is a 10 acre, certified organic berry farm, located on Rte 100 in Rochester, VT. Owned and operated by Rob Meadows and Patricia Rydle, it was established in 1999 and has been proudly certified organic since 2001. They raise blueberries (2500+ bushes), raspberries (3 acres), blackberries (1 acre), and sour cherries (1 acre). This Pick-Your-Own (PYO) enterprise offers healthy food on a local basis. They sell a small quantity of pre-picked berries out of our farm store, and weekly at the Waitsfield Farmers Market.

Rob and Patricia see their Pick-Your-Own farm as a community event and resource. The berries are not merely a food, but also a sense of enhancing the community experience in Rochester, as well as reaching out to draw others into the Rochester community. Keeping the farm organic is an environmentally healthy choice on many levels -for the land, for the berries that grow on it, for the people who pick and eat the berries, and for the branch of the White River that flows on their land, bordering the farm, thereby affecting many environs, far beyond the scope of their 10 acres, and beyond Rochester itself. 802-767-3989

The aftermath
From our inquiries, we understand that American Flatbread was hit hard, but they are slowly recovering with their spirits high.
We anxiously await word from Sunshine Valley Berry Farm, but have no news to share at this moment. From what we can surmise, it seems that they are in a very hard hit area, but are praying for the best for their incredible farm and all of their hard work to be able to provide their healthy organic berries to the surrounding communities. If you have ever been there, you will understand what an amazing wonderful experience it is to fo there – where you see row after row after row of the most incredibly delicious fruits available…
There are many other places along the rte. 100 corridor that we shared stories about that we have not mentioned here because we have nothing to report: Yestermorrow School, Mad River Valley Energy, Crossett Brook Middle School with their solar installation.  We hear that Moretown, Waterbury and Duxbury did not fare well… We wonder about Houseneeds, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Green Mountain Club – the Green Mountain Forest is closed and also in need of many hands and hard work to assure that it is safe to hike in.   If you know about any of these places, please let us know so that we can share it with others and also of their needs.
We wish all of you the best under these horrific circumstances.  Please lend a hand to help these businesses get back on their feet.  Support them when they are open and let us know if you have any news to share.
– The staff at Green Energy Times

6 comments to Rte 100 Corridor: before & after the Hurricane

  • The Green Mountain Club Headquarters made it through Irene with no damage. The damage reports to the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail system are still coming in. It will be some time until we know the full extent of the damage as the Green Mountain National Forest remains closed. No one is to enter the National Forest or use the hiking trails until further notice. Folks who are interested in volunteering on the trails are encouraged to volunteer in local communities (if you are able) with flood relief efforts to help our friends and neighbors get back on their feet first – this is where the greatest need is. Once the National Forest is open and once we have a sense of the damage we will update our web site with any volunteer opportunities. Information on trail closures, etc. can be found on our website as well as our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Thanks. Pete Antos-Ketcham, GMC Staff.

  • Patricia Marland

    From Rochester, NY … Is there something we can organize to help? After all, we have the same name … maybe we could be “sister cities”? I LOVED your stories about how the people came together to help one another. Same thing happened here when we had a horrific ice storm some years ago. I expect that help will be needed WAY past the current crisis. Please let me know if my idea of “sister cities” develops any traction.

  • Patricia – thank you for your kind words and offer to help as a ‘sister city. I have forwarded your comment to some businesses and people who live in the area.. as well as seeing what your comment may bring out… What a great idea. As strong as this community is, I am sure that they can use and will appreciate this. I am very concerned with Sunshine Valley Berries…. have not heard what actually happened to them and hoping for the best, while fearing the worst… Let’s run with this and make this happen.. Thank you so much..

  • Thanks for thinking of us at Yestermorrow. Our campus survived the storm with very little damage. We had to postpone classes for one day due to the road closings but were back up and running on Tuesday. Unfortunately many of our neighbors on the river side of Rte 100 did not fare as well, and we have been out volunteering with many local clean up efforts and thinking about how we can utilize our design/build skills in the rebuilding effort.

  • Thx for letting us know, Kate. And thx for your helping others not so fortunate out. Re-building with our future in mind is so important. We hope that many take advantage of the Weatherization $ that is available until 2012 that can mean going that extra step to insulate heavier, better windows and more efficient roofs.. Climate change is warning us, so let’s be ready for it and do all we can at this opportune time.. Let us know how we can help. One thing I thought of is for OG gardeners to share their extra harvest with places like Kingsbury Farm Market and also Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT was hurt badly, as well. They, too are solar powered… If we all collected up our extras and sent them over to these places, it could help to replace their loss. Maybe you could help to organize this over your way. Thx for what you are doing to help!

  • Patricia – we heard back from the folks in Rochester, VT. Hopefully you can connect with them and take this further. Here is what they said: “This is a very nice thought! Thank You. We have two funds raising money to rebuild. Both are administrated by the same committee. See Town of Rochester – facebook for more info. Thanks!”

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