[Market-farming] 2017 summary/update

karen sutherland karen at rootsfarm.info
Sun Dec 31 18:01:32 EST 2017


A quick update and sincere thanks to the many who have sent their good
wishes after Hurricane Maria -- 18 September 2017 -- now 3.5 months ago but
still with us constantly in almost all conceivable and many inconceivable
ways.

Nature and beauty are returning to this oh-so-devastated island.  Basically
all 1st growth rainforest is gone, but being replaced by pioneering species
so green is again the dominant theme in this part of the island. (I
understand that other parts still look/are? dead.)  Impact on wildlife not
fully known but our 2 indigenous parrot species and other birds have
clearly taken a beating.  Weather continues to be freaky -- uncommonly
rainy and windy for this time of year.

The human recovery is happening, slowly, accompanied by extreme suffering
and stress. Most houses are still without roofs and many of the aid gifts
of tarpaulins are now flapping and shredding with the continuing  violent
weather.  Jobs are mostly still on hold as businesses try to regroup and
families despair of having income to fix what is broken and pay off the
mortgages and other loans they still owe on the damaged houses, cars,
businesses, farms.  Food remains an issue for many in this formerly verdant
land (even if one includes the imported mprocessed and chemicalized
products as "food.")  Electricity has been restored to a small section of
the country, most of the rest of us are without, with the wealthier using
petroleum burning air- and noise-polluting generators.  Water has been
restored to 80% of population.  Supplies in stores are still scant and
capricious and wait times to do/buy anything enormous. Port functioning,
but still frustratingly clogged. No wifi -- only expensive data packages
for cell phone for connectivity.

Like almost all Dominican farmers, we have had our farm -- a loving but
exhausting labor of 17 overworked, hopeful years and heavy investment (now
debt)  and a joy of just maturing both common and exotic fruit trees --
reduced to rubble.  Herculean effort to get a short term crop garden
replanted was successful for output but current economic and market
conditions make much of our produce unsellable. Like a trophic cascade, the
ripples from MARIA impact everywhere and every when.  Folks don't have
refrigeration to store vegetables and prefer to spend their few $ on
belly-filling high carbohydrate "provisions."   Because no tourism
happening and many of our expat snowbirds have not returned, market is
further decreased. An increasing number of heartsick Dominican farmers have
allowed their land to be tenant-farmed by poor Haitian immigrants who care
not for the land, environment or seemingly the consumers and crowd the
market with heavily sprayed foods at unsustainably low prices.   Government
aid for agriculture, other than some seeds and seedlings, has not yet
materialized despite lofty talk.

But is not entirely hopeless. The Dominican people go on, grateful for life
and whatever they have.  Externally, the human landscape is still full of
smiles and laughter.  Like yawns, this is contagious and healing in
itself.  There is a crisis-fueled goal of building back better --
resilient, sustainable.  (Whether the aid-givers will support this rather
than supporting domestic corporate wellbeing and whether the assistance
acceptors can resist Trojan horses remains to be seen.).

But what I really want to say to all of you is that this can happen
anywhere as a result of weather or terrorism or ?? and it is sane to
prioritize  relatively simple survival strategies like an alternative
energy source (with some storage, if possible) to at least  power
communication and connection and any necessary medical devices.  Have a
(rotating) stock of food and water for people and animals.   Have important
information (e.g., first aid, phone numbers, how long to boil water for
safety, etc., etc.) on paper --not just electronically stored -- and
preferably stored in waterproof containers.   (It is truly amazing how much
is totally disrupted by our dependence  on electricity and Internet.)  Have
extra critical medications and nutritional supplements.  Have seeds!

What I realize, despite rigors of life  as a dirt farmer, is how very, very
privileged I have been.  That situations like this are common to those less
privileged, to most of the world.  And that my privilege was derived by a
system which exploited wherever and whenever it could leaving vulnerability
and disruption behind its profit taking.  Dominica is now playing the role
of canary in the global warming mine.  Wishing the world could be
influenced by those who care more about life than profits.

Wishing that all of you will be spared this, that you will go on growing in
ways that support life, and that you will enjoy health and happiness in the
New Year and beyond.

Karen


-- 
Karen Sutherland
Roots Farm Organic Produce
  fruits, roots, vegetables & herbs
Cochrane, Dominica
767-449-3038 (before 7 P.M.)
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