The link at the bottom of this post is to an extraordinary book excerpt about the physical and emotional effects of a hailstorm by the owners of one of the first certified organic farms in the Midwest. As a market organizer that has been through my share of disaster and recovery spells, I can tell you that concern and awareness quickly fades among those not immediately affected long before the producers actually completely recover. You can see that in the annoyance on shoppers faces two or more seasons later when they inquire about their favorite products and are told that the farm is not ready to return. You can see the lack of empathy on legislators faces when they are asked what is to be done for small family farms or boats to help them rebuild. Truly, the aftermath of any disaster on any community food production needs to be shared more widely and for longer periods than it is usually.
In this passage from her book, the farmer explains beautifully what happens both to the people and the plants of her farm; the depth of emotion is naked and exposed:
This is just wrong. June is supposed to be bursting green and lush, the bounty of the universe in full evidence. This is squalor and violence. Instead of spring-fresh, the air is a stench of decay and rot. I can intellectualize. No one is hurt. We won’t starve, go broke, or lose the farm. Many plants will recover. But when I stop distracting myself and notice how I feel, I am vulnerable and exposed, like I have been beaten by a merciless sky and left to survive on my own wits. I know this is just emotion, but I feel completely isolated despite so much support. I look for reality. I know it’s out there somewhere. I can’t see it. I don’t understand the purpose. Maybe there is none. Maybe hail just exists.