Today, News Cut blogger Bob Collins visited Laughing Loon Farm in Northfield where volunteers are helping farmer Dayna Burtness clean up after floods and hail destroyed some of the farm’s crops.
In the June 14 flood in Dakota, Goodhue and Rice counties, a third of Dayna Burtness’ Laughing Loon Farm was washed away. But there was still a chance the first-year full-time farmer could make a go of it at her herb, flower, and vegetable farm in Northfield , which supports local restaurants and St. Olaf college with produce.
Then a hail storm hit three days later and she knew she was in big trouble. She lost thousands of dollars in equipment and ready-to-be planted vegetables, most of the peppers, the eggplants, and many beds of beans, beets, spring mix, and spinach. Even where some vegetables appear to be making a go of it today, Burtness is counting it as a loss because she doesn’t know what pollutants were in the floodwater and hers is a farm that stresses organic and sustainable practices.
It was a quick fall from lofty heights. Just a few weeks ago, her work fed a president and his guests at the Bachelor Farmer restaurant in Minneapolis on a presidential swing through the Twin Cities.
There’s still a little bit of the farm left on the land she rents, but the race is on to save the young crops that are left on land. Much of the topsoil has washed away and a nearby creek left only a pile of sand.
"I did some crying and puking," she said today, the first day she would find out if her plea for help would be answered. It was.